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Hands-on – Some Thoughts on the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus in Titanium

hands-on-–-some-thoughts-on-the-a.-lange-&-sohne-odysseus-in-titanium

The A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus is a surprising watch on many levels. Dubbed the ALS you can wear on a daily basis, it’s a rather Germanic take on the luxury sports watch, with a different approach to the concept than, for instance, the Royal Oak, Nautilus or Overseas. More complex, less integrated, not that thin… far less Genta-esque, in fact. It truly has its own personality and, even though it came as a surprise in 2019, it has become a success for the brand. Building on its popularity, the Saxon brand decided to release its first limited edition (as if the regular steel version was easy to get!), the Odysseus Titanium. And yes, it is a stunning watch on many levels. Probably the best of the collection so far. But it’s also a watch that has provoked comments.

The A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus, as presented in 2019

It might sound a bit cliché to start this article by already saying that the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Titanium is a stunning watch. Truth is, this watch really is that stunning in terms of looks, execution, and design (even though the latter is personal). I wasn’t the biggest supporter of the Odysseus when it was released in 2019, with its steel case/bracelet and blue dial. It took me some time to digest this watch, which clearly was an entirely new take in Lange ‘s vocabulary. Over time, I changed my mind regarding the Odysseus, even though I’m not entirely convinced by the steel model. And I can’t really put the finger on the reason why I still have doubts. It really is an intangible feeling.

The introduction of the limited edition titanium model changed my perspective on the Odysseus. The different material, the new textures, the novel dial colour… really change the watch and elevate it to a different level – in my books. Having seen, touched and worn the watch during Watches & Wonders only confirmed what I had imagined when I saw the images before the fair: the Odysseus Titanium is superb. And it makes me sad since there’s an elephant in the room, a major issue with this watch. But more on that later.

As a quick reminder, let’s go back to 2019 and the launch of the inaugural steel model. What is the Odysseus? In the words of our founder Frank: “It’s a new Lange, in a round case, for the first time in a non-precious metal, a Lange that is robust, sporty, waterproof – and not just showerproof – and that is worn on a metallic bracelet, somehow integrated to the case.” While we could have expected Lange to create a watch as a direct competitor to the Royal Oak or the Nautilus, the reality is that the Odysseus plays in a slightly different league. It’s not entirely the same concept, and it doesn’t comply with all the classic codes of the luxury sports watch category. The case is not shaped, it’s thicker and more robust, and the display is complex. Sure, it’s a steel watch from a high-end brand, but not at all similar to the Genta-related watches.

Following the launch of the steel/blue version, the brand then released a white gold model worn either on a leather or rubber strap. And this year, it was time for the first limited edition, made of an even more surprising material for ALS: titanium. What’s new here? Besides the obvious new material, this limited edition changes the way the case and bracelet are finished and adds a new dial colour and texture. And the result is quite different from the steel model, visually and on the wrist. However, the specifications and movement are identical to the classic Odysseus steel.

With the new Odysseus Titanium, we still have the typical Lange case, with its bold rounded bezel and strong, pronounced lugs. The entire watch is made of grade 5 titanium, and retains the same shapes and proportions as before – 40.5mm in diameter and 11mm in height. There’s still the lateral module on the right side of the case to integrate the day/date correction pushers and the watch retains its comfortable 120m water-resistance. The crown screws down and so does the caseback with a sapphire crystal.

Looking at the Odysseus Titanium in detail, you can see that almost all the parts are the same as the steel model. However, they are now executed in grade 5 titanium. But of course, titanium is different from steel on many levels. First of all, it is about 40% lighter than stainless steel, resulting in a watch that feels very different on the wrist. The steel model was nothing but overly heavy (about 160 grams), this titanium model is much lighter at about 105/110 grams. Personally, I loved this sensation on the wrist; however, I know some collectors won’t appreciate it and prefer (need) to feel the weight of their watch. A certain heft tends to contribute to the luxurious feeling you have of your watch.

Then, titanium has a different colour than stainless steel, specifically when finished in a matte way. Polished titanium is bright and very cold in colour. But A. Lange & Söhne has given the Odysseus Titanium an entirely different finishing. All the brushed surfaces of the steel model have here been sandblasted, resulting in a fine, grainy matte surface that absorbs light and gives the watch a darker grey tone. These matte areas are combined with thick, finely polished accents, accentuating the contrast. When you look at the watch closely, the attention to detail and refinement is obvious. The level of finishing is, as you’d expect from Lange, outstanding and truly impressive. The Odysseus Titanium is a very special object to observe and touch. Besides the visual beauty of the watch, it also offers a unique tactile experience.

The other important update on this titanium edition concerns the dial. The display, with its Zeitwerk-ish inspiration, remains the same. Central hands for the hours and minutes, small seconds at 6 o’clock and, what relates this watch to the rest of the collection, the two windows at 3 and 9 o’clock to display the current date (an outsize date, of course, with two discs) and the day of the week. This display was certainly the most polarising element of the Odysseus when launched, but I still believe that it makes sense and gives it the necessary ALS identity. No evolutions are to be noted to the hands and applied markers, which are still made of polished white gold and filled with luminous material.

Compared to the steel version, the Odysseus Titanium brings first a new texture, at least for the hour chapter ring. While the steel model had a classic concentric pattern, this new limited edition comes with a wave texture. The central part of the dial retains the same grained surface as the steel version and its multi-layer profile. The other change concerns the colour, with a colour named “ice-blue” – a soft, desaturated grey-blue tone that matches the cold colour of the titanium. This new colour creates a softer look, with more consistency, and less contrast. It is attractive, fresh and original, yet retains enough elegance to be qualified as something made by Lange. Again, this is personal, but I really loved the colour in the metal, and how it blends with the rest of the watch.

Just like the case, the bracelet is made of titanium and has the same matte, sandblasted surfaces with polished accents. The multi-link profile feels less obvious here due to the different textures, and the way the bracelet plays with the light is rather different from what you experience with the steel model. The bracelet is still equipped with the folding clasp with safety pushers and a micro-adjustment system – you can enlarge it up to an extra 7mm by pressing the pusher embossed with the Lange signature, while still wearing the watch on the wrist.

Inside the case, the movement is entirely identical – the in-house calibre L155.1 Datomatic that was conceived to be more resistant and more adapted to the sporty vocation of the watch. For instance, it is wound by a central rotor (for better efficiency and more resistance to shocks) and it beats at 4Hz, while most ALS watches run at 3Hz. The higher beat rate gives more stability to the balance when experiencing shocks and should increase accuracy. The movement features a cam-poised balance with four poising screws and an in-house balance spring. It is also equipped with a transversal balance cock for better shock resistance. The power reserve is rated at 50 hours. Other than that, it’s typical Lange, with high-end decoration, double assembly and a hand-engraved cock. The finishing includes stripes, bevelled edges, blues screws and a skeletonised and partially black rhodium-plated rotor with a platinum mass.

Thoughts

I had the chance to see and wear this watch and, yes, it is a magnificent object. I’m not going to debate the design here, which is entirely subjective. But objectively, this edition is spectacular in most aspects of its execution. The titanium case and bracelet are crafted to an impressive level, with a refinement that you don’t often find in sports watches. I also think that this titanium edition looks better than the steel model, with subtler more refined colours that are fresher and more original. The blasted surfaces give it a low-key feeling that suits the brand and its clients. And although this is debatable, the lightness of the titanium case and bracelet is a massive plus for me.

But… As I said, there’s something about this watch that I don’t understand, and that is its price. The regular steel model, when it was launched, retailed for EUR 28,000 – it is now about 30k euros. The white gold version on a strap retailed for EUR 42,000 when it was released. This titanium version retails for EUR 55,000. I can understand a price difference between this titanium model and the steel version, due to the different material, a more complex decoration of the habillage parts and the exclusivity of the watch that makes economies of scale less prone to reduce the cost. But doubling the price isn’t justified. I would have understood 40k (that would have already been a substantial increase). Not 55k.

But after all, it doesn’t really matter since the demand for this watch largely surpassed its availability of 250 pieces, which are most likely all allocated as we speak. And since this is, in my books, the most compelling Odysseus in the collection, and one of the finest titanium sports watches you can find on the market, I’m almost forgiving this price increase… (but since I can’t afford one anyway, it really doesn’t matter).

Availability & Price

The A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Titanium Limited Edition (ref. 363.117) is limited to 250 watches only and is available from the brand’s official boutiques. Chances to get one are even smaller than with the already hard-to-get steel model and allocations are probably closed as we speak. It is priced at EUR 55,000 or USD 56,500. For more details, please visit www.alange-soehne.com.

https://monochrome-watches.com/a-lange-sohne-odysseus-titanium-limited-edition-hands-on-price/

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