I always like to wait a bit before I review a watch. I like to give the watch community plenty of time to digest, analyse and come up with their own opinion about a watch. The Datograph Up/Down Lumen is one of those watches that, very recently, took the world by storm. A lot of people fell head over heels for it, while a very small minority didn’t really take to it. I find myself in the latter cohort.
The Datograph Up/Down Lumen is the fourth piece that A. Lange & Söhne has added to their Lumen series. For those of you who don’t know what Lumen is, it’s basically a coating on a semi-transparent sapphire crystal that filters out a lot of the visible light surrounding us, but not the part of the colour spectrum that is needed to charge the luminous pigments with light energy. Thus, the concept of the Lumen product is that the darker its surroundings, the clearer the displays are. A very cool concept in theory, but in practice, and specifically with the Datograph Up/Down Lumen, I’m not too sure.
Truth be told, I’ve only really grown to admire one collection from A. Lange & Söhne as vicariously as others have grown to love their entire lineage of timepieces. I find myself drawn to the Richard Lange collection over all the other Lange families. I think this is to do with the fact that each and every Richard Lange piece seems to take on a genome that is very much against the Lange grain, so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, I do admire the Lange 1, the Zeitwerk, the Saxonia and of course the 1815. But, were I ever in a position to pull the trigger on any of these pieces, I would definitely be aiming for a piece from the Richard Lange collection.
Anyway, onto the watch itself. The Datograph Up/Down Lumen is a playful iteration of one of A. Lange & Söhne’s most infamous pieces. Its case dimensions are still very typical of the Datograph. The platinum case measures 41mm in diameter and a thick 13.40mm in height. This is, by no stretch of the imagination, a small watch. The Datograph has long been hailed a feat of German engineering, and its external architecture is an apparent reflection of that fact.
Now let’s look at the dial. Very quickly, and just reiterating from what we know in the press release, the dial’s outer ring is finished in polished German silver, while the inner segment features coated sapphire crystal throughout. The hour and minute hands are filled with luminous material and the chronograph seconds hand is coated in the same. The large date window features two display elements, one a luminous tens cross and the other a black printed unit disc made of transparent glass which seems to float above the luminous background. The sub-dial registers are luminescent as well, and can be seen in the darkest of environments very clearly.
The luminescent material used in the Datograph Up/Down Lumen shines a ghostly green in environments with little to no light. It’s a cool spectacle, sure. But I personally don’t feel it fits the aesthetic of the Datograph Up/Down Lumen that well. Lange states that the Datograph Up/Down Lumen’s dial is vibrant and harmoniously balanced, and despite what you might think, I couldn’t agree more. It all seems to work well, the smoky transparent sapphire crystal, the green tinge of that Lumen. It’s all pretty cool.
But my disdain for the Datograph Up/Down Lumen is very simple, and to an extent quite conservative. This is an entirely unnecessary piece, and it seems fairly misguided for the Datograph collection. Now, I could be calling on some subconscious bias, in that I don’t actually like the look of the Datograph, but in the instance of the Datograph Up/Down Lumen, I can’t fathom myself ever wanting to purchase it (were I ever in that financial position, of course). I don’t like the semi-transparent sapphire crystal. It looks cheap and flimsy, something you’d expect from a micro-brand produced watch. I don’t like the green luminescent material. It reminds me of a cross between the Green Lantern and the Hulk with a sprinkle of the Matrix. It doesn’t look right, and furthermore I don’t feel as though it was overly needed.
The Datograph Up/Down Lumen does have a massive plus side though: its movement! It’s powered by the Lange manufacture calibre L951.7, which is a manually wound calibre made up of 454-components, has a lever escapement and has been finished to the delectable level we’ve all come to love, expect and enjoy from any movement from A. Lange & Söhne. I won’t delve too deep into the movement’s characteristics, but if Philippe Dufour himself blessed this movement, then I’m sure it’ll do just fine for you and for the Datograph Up/Down Lumen.
Sure, I have no doubt that the The Datograph Up/Down Lumen will sell through its limited run of 200-pieces (if it hasn’t already), but I just can’t seem to agree with it. I like the thought process behind it, but A. Lange & Söhne have so many other ways to improve and diversify the The Datograph Up/Down. The addition of a Lumen piece is, in a way, kind of off-putting. But hey, that’s just me.
The A. Lange & Söhne is available now for a cost of $100,500USD (which converts roughly to $140,000).