The perpetual calendar is a wonderful thing and Lange does perfect things with it, but it’s always seemed a little fussy, a little high maintenance. The annual calendar by contrast has a pragmatic – shall we say, Teutonic – feature that seems to fit Lange down to the ground, as if it’s saying, “Oh, of course, if turning the crown once a year is too fatiguing, do throw away money on a perpetual calendar. I’ll be right over here when you decide to be sensible.”
Surely, by the numbers, Lange does some more perpetual calendars that it does annuals, and you can find them in just about every product family, from the replica A. Lange & Sohne 1 to the 1815, all the way up to the Grand Complication. The annual calendar sits within Lange’s collection in a somewhat similar position to the one it holds in watchmaking history as a whole, which is to say that it’s still relatively rare. In contrast to its perpetual calendars, Lange currently makes just two annual calendars: the 1815 Annual Calendar, and the Saxonia Annual Calendar, of which the grey dial boutique limited edition you see here is a variant.
When the fake Patek Philippe introduced the first wristwatch annual calendar – the reference 5035 – it was a fairly controversial move; the annual calendar was, as Cara mentions in her 2017 coverage of the 1815 Annual Calendar; considered by some to be a mere dumb-down perpetual, and therefore inappropriate for the elevated image so assiduously cultivated by Patek.
Let’s say, as has always been true in top-end best replica watches making, how you do what you do, is at least as important as what you do, and an annual calendar, like any other complication, is as elevated (or not) as the maker chooses to make it. Lange makes a rather elevated annual calendar. Aesthetically this is a departure from the more austere look and feel of the existing Saxonia annuals, which are available in rose gold, white gold, or platinum, but all with a silver dial.
Lange describes this as a grey dial, but it’s actually a slightly warm grey, and it sets off the white gold case quite nicely. Besides, it seems to add a shot of extra luminescence to the hands, markers, and date windows, which in oblique light glow against the dial like red-edged clouds at sunset. It’s a bit more dramatic execution than the silver dial regular production models and overall, has a more structured as well as more overtly seductive feel.
In general, the replica Lange seems pretty smart to me about releasing limited edition, new dial treatments of staple collection models. They don’t do it too often and as a rule, they’re thoughtfully done – you get the sense that a higher level of care and consideration goes into such things, when Lange does them. This combination of dial and hands is on one level just a cosmetic change, of course, but it does something very particular, which is add a very attractive new variation to an existing aesthetic, in a way that is an organic part of the larger narrative continuity of the model as a whole.