While one can comfortably ascertain the Datograph as the iconic chronograph, par excellence by A. Lange & Söhne, there are other ways in which one can enjoy what it mostly offers, and at a more “affordable” price.

Indeed, some might say that the 1815 Chronograph has had the dual reputation of being either, perhaps unfairly, the “poor man’s Datograph” or more correctly, a pure expression of what a high end manual winding chronograph with column wheel and horizontal clutch, should be. That being said, of course, no one who can afford an 1815 Chronograph should ever be considered cash strapped by any measure.

Leaving that aside, it is true that there are connoisseurs whose taste tends to the austere, preferring to have their watches be as devoid of as much flash as possible. For collectors of such a persuasion, the date function, often seen as a practical addition to a watch, becomes an unnecessary obstacle to the enjoyment of its true functions. In the 1815 Chronograph especially, whose raison d’être is felt through its name, only the functions of time and chronograph are the ones truly relevant and therefore “pure”.

While I’m not one to dismiss a date function for the sake of purity, I can see a place for such a notion to be important, and for that the 1815 Chronograph is the perfect watch. For such collectors, it would be this watch, notwithstanding the iconic status of the Datograph in the brand’s line-up, which would be on their consideration list. After all, it gives the best of everything that A. Lange & Söhne can offer in a chronograph movement, but in a package that suits a more specific criteria of how a watch should be.

In fact, in comparison to the Datograph, the 1815 Chronograph is essentially the same watch but without the date module, responsible for A. Lange & Söhne’s iconic Outsized Date. In removing this module, what has essentially happened is that one gets a watch that can be thinner (at 11mm) than the original Datograph (at 12.9mm) or the Datograph Up/Down (at 13.1mm).

Without the date, whose components are on the dial-side of the movement, one still gets the superlative view of the Calibre L951.5, which is essentially the same view you get from the back of the Datograph, or the one that when first presented, elevated A. Lange & Söhne to the upper echelons of watchmaking.

A. Lange & Söhne Black Dial 1815 Chronograph

For June 2017, what we have with the new 1815 Chronograph is a version with a black dial and white gold case that thankfully is not limited. Previous to this was a version that was introduced at Watches and Wonders in 2015, a boutique edition, with solid silver white dial, blue numerals and Pulsometer scale, which hearkened back to the original 2004 version with a slightly larger 39.5mm case (as opposed to 39mm for the former).

In my view this black dialed version is the best variation of the 1815 Chronograph so far largely because it looks remarkably like the iconic Datograph with black dial of dreams, with its Tachymeter scale looking like the 1815 Chronograph’s Pulsometer scale. The differences apart from the lack of a Big Date, are the lack of panda sub-dials (for black dialed Datograph versions only) and power reserve indicator (as seen in the Datograph Up/Down) and the inclusion of the signature Arabic numerals on the dial of the 1815 collection.

The result is a watch that feels like a Datograph, but one that seems simplified and purer in intent.

Helping the appeal of this watch is without doubt its case material, which is white gold as opposed to the platinum used for the black dial Datograph’s.

In summing, its largely a matter of personal preference. The Datograph and the 1815 Chronograph both represent the best of A. Lange & Söhne and provide collectors a choice between an icon, or its stripped-down variation.

Coming in at a price of €49,000, the 1815 Chronograph in this iteration. Just for context, the Datograph Up/Down goes for €74,400.

A. Lange & Söhne Black Dial 1815 Chronograph
A. Lange & Söhne Black Dial 1815 Chronograph

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