Hands on review of the Lange & Söhne Datograph Up / Down Lumen
It is maybe a way to illuminate the long winter nights but Lange & Söhne is used to unveil its "Lumen" watches at the end of the year. The Datograph Up / Down Lumen, which was presented in the last quarter of 2018 is the fourth watch of its kind from the Saxon manufacture and is, like its predecessors, very successful.
The name Lumen (not to be confused with the old appelation Luminous) applies to watches that undergo a special treatment of the dial. The traditional dial is replaced by a semi-transparent glass that works the opposite of sunglasses. Indeed, it lets pass the ultraviolet but blocks a large part of the visible light. Thus, the luminescent material present on different elements of the watch can be loaded permanently while the dial continues to provide a sufficient level of opacity and contrast. The whole remains legible and offers a wide range of chromatic renderings.
To this day, I consider Lange & Söhne's Lumen watches, all released in the context of limited series, as the embodiment of the most daring stylistic approach of the manufacture. A Lumen watch, given the very special (and extremely changing!) nature of the dial, offers a technical and contemporary aesthetic.
The Lumen approach is this time applied to Datograph Up / Down. The latter was introduced in 2012, replacing the original version of the Datograph unveiled in 1999. It differs in its enlarged diameter (41mm against 39mm) while keeping a similar thickness (13.1 vs 12.8mm) and the replacement of Roman numerals by indexes. In order to preserve the perfect aesthetics of the first Datograph and in particular the equilateral triangle made up of the large date and the two sub-dials, Lange & Söhne proportionally enlarged the diameter of the counters but also the window at 12 o'clock. Finally, the display of the power reserve was very discreetly added at 6 o'clock. Given these reasons, the Datograph Up / Down managed to retain the spirit of the original Datograph while offering a more slender style.
I must admit that I was very skeptical at first when I learned that a Lumen version of Datograph Up / Down was about to be released. But I was finally convinced by the result. I explain it for two reasons. The first reason is that the luminescent elements highlight the specific lay-out of the Datograph's dial. When the watch is put in the dark, the luminescent elements emerge briskly including the two sub-dials and the big date. The typical equilateral triangle appears in a new context.
The second reason is that the dial has a multitude of renderings all as attractive as each other. The Datograph Up / Down Lumen offers a spectacular range of gray, from anthracite gray to very light gray. And as the luminescent material also offers a very wide range of colors, from blue / pale green in slight darkness to an intense bright blue / violet in total darkness, the dial of the watch appears then in constant variation.
It should not be forgotten either that the original Datograph has redefined the standards of what should have been a high-end chronograph. So finding it again with a different but respectful style that highlights the technical dimension of the piece is great news. Under the semi-transparent dial we can feel the movement that remains, almost 20 years after its presentation, one of the most beautiful chronograph movements of the industry.
It is obviously bridges side that the show offered by the movement becomes even more enjoyable. The L951.7 caliber and the L951.6 caliber of the "classic" Datograph Up / Down look like two drops of water. But it bears a different reference because it is very slightly modified. It has 3 additional parts (454 vs 451) and has a greater thickness considering the management of luminescent elements (the Datograph Up / Down Lumen has a thickness of 13.4mm). In any case, the pleasure to observe it is the same. The quality of the finishes, the architecture with multiple depth effects, the decorative techniques make this movement a real pleasure for the eyes. And as in use it is always so pleasant (the triggering of the pushers and the winding experience are very smooth and fine-tuned), Lange & Söhne demonstrates once again its mastery of the complication.
The following 3 wristshots show the variations of the visual rendering of the dial according to the light conditions:
Of course, its performance remains the same, namely a frequency of 2.5hz for a power reserve of sixty hours. I really like these low frequency calibers that have an incomparable charm. The listening to the ticking of these movements is magic!
Similarly, the feelings on the wrist are similar. The Datograph Up / Down is a heavy watch and I appreciate this feature. However, it must be ensured that it is well positioned on the wrist because if it moves, it can be uncomfortable.
I was then seduced by the Datograph Up / Down Lumen. It is a great way to evolve the Datograph while retaining the ingredients that make it successful. It also brings new proof that when Lange & Söhne is more daring and offers less classic dials, its watches become more exciting thanks to the drop of originality they contain. Now the challenge for the manufacture is to be able to adopt this kind of approach outside a "Lumen" context.
The Datograph Up / Down Lumen is available with a platinum case in a limited series of 200 pieces at a price of 95,000 euros including tax.
Thanks to the team at the Lange & Söhne boutique located rue de la Paix in Paris.
+ the multiple visual renderings of the dial
+ the successful luminescence effects
+ the quality of the finishes
+ the pleasure provided by the L951.7 movement
- the weight of the watch is significant which requires a firm position on the wrist