Rarity, perhaps more than any other trait, dictates the value of a luxury timepiece. The fewer there are of a particular model or reference, the more likely it is for that watch to be highly valued. Watch collectors spend countless hours searching for rare examples of interesting timepieces to add to their collections because otherwise, what’s the point. No one wants a collection of watches that anyone could easily acquire. The whole objective of collecting is to curate a unique and interesting group of things that are worth admiring and studying. Of course, the most extreme example of this—the collector’s holy grail—is a watch that is 1 of 1, or as we watch nerds say, a “piece unique.” That’s what we have here. This is the A. Lange & Söhne 820.036E Langematik Perpetual calendar reference in platinum with a black dial and full baguette diamond bezel, and it’s the only known reference of its kind.
The Langematik model is a part of A. Lange & Söhne’s Saxonia watch line, which is one of the brand’s founding collections. It was named as a tribute to the German state of Saxony, where the original Lange founder, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, first established German precision watchmaking. Though the Saxonia line was introduced in 1994, the Langematik perpetual calendar wasn’t launched until 2001. The timepiece is notable for being the first mechanical wristwatch to combine a perpetual calendar with Lange’s trademark big date. On top of its handsome good looks (and having what I would say is the coolest name in Lange’s catalog), it also houses some serious technical innovations, which we’ll dive into later. The Langematik continues to be an important part of the Lange watch lineup, and it was just recently commemorated with a few special edition examples to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
As mentioned, this specific watch is unlike its siblings as it is a unique version. It was produced on special request in the early 2000s. Its combination of platinum case, black dial, and baguette diamond bezel differentiate the A. Lange & Söhne 820.036E Langematik Perpetual Calendar from standard production Langematiks.
The obvious stand-out feature on this unicorn of a watch is the glistening 36 baguette cut diamonds that make up the bezel. I’m not normally one for bling, but I can’t argue with this flawless execution. The diamonds are integrated perfectly into the design. The case is 38.5mm of solid platinum and comes mounted to a double-sided alligator strap—most alligator straps have calfskin on the underside, but Lange doesn’t cut corners.
While the baguettes get your attention, I think it’s the dial of the A. Lange & Söhne 820.036E Langematik Perpetual Calendar that really draws you in. It’s a very deep black that makes the dial almost look endless, and because of this, it’s not apparent at first how many different levels there are. The hour track is raised up, and the subdials all have varying recessed portions giving the dial about four levels in total. This adds a lot of visual intrigue and helps delineate the multiple functions of the perpetual calendar. Another detail I really appreciate is the use of color on the AM/PM and leap year indicators. This is a very formal watch, and a more monotone look might have been a bit classier, but Lange chose form over function here, and it greatly improves the legibility. Little details like that remind you that while this is an ultra-luxurious watch, it’s still a German watch, and those German design principles are strongly held.
Inside the Langematik is the in-house caliber L922.1. This is an automatic winding movement with a 46-hour power reserve and multiple innovative mechanisms. The most notable of which is the patented ZERO-RESET mechanism, which allows for quick and accurate synchronization. The movement stops when one pulls the crown out to set the time, and the second’s hand immediately jumps to zero. This ensures that the minute hand is perfectly aligned to the minute marker and is ready to be synchronized. If you’ve ever waited for a seconds hand to do a full rotation before stopping the movement to set it, you’ll appreciate this functionality.
Additionally, the perpetual calendar complication will not require adjustment until March 1st, 2100, and the moonphase complication won’t need to be adjusted for 122.6 years. Plus, it tells the time. For those who are more concerned with aesthetics, the L922.1 has 43 glistening jewels, a beautiful 21k gold micro-rotor, and richly decorated German Silver baseplates, all of which are visible through the display caseback. Brains and beauty, what more can you ask for?
Versus The Competition
If you’re shopping at this level of the market, you’re certainly a serious watch enthusiast and wouldn’t drop $193,500 on a watch without cross-shopping it. The Lange is a unique example, but it’s not without spiritual peers. Here are some alternatives.
Consider this Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Split Second Chronograph reference 5004P. It’s a platinum perpetual calendar and, thanks to the case material, black dial, and diamond indices, it has a similar design ethos as the Lange, but with the addition of a split-second chronograph. It’s a rare timepiece but not unique. However, its added complexity could entice one to forgive that. With an MSRP of $275,000, you are looking to pay considerably more, but if you’re already the type of person who’s spending hundreds of thousands on a watch, I suspect that might not be a huge obstacle.
If the diamonds on the Lange attracted you more than the innovative movement, you might want to consider something a bit more flashy. This Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in white gold has a full rainbow gradient bezel of baguet cut sapphires and a dial completely covered in diamonds. It doesn’t get more blingy than this. Valued at around $218,000, this watch cost a bit more than the Langematik, but again, that difference might not be meaningful at this level. The real question will be, what do you want more, jewels or complications.
Any die-hard A. Lange & Söhne collector would love to have this watch, but that would be true of any unique Lange. What really sets this watch apart is its flash. After all, this is a platinum A. Lange & Söhne with a full bezel of baguette diamonds. It’s not exactly a sleeper watch. This is a watch for someone who likes nice things and doesn’t mind showing it.
Piece unique timepieces, while once a somewhat common occurrence, are now getting rarer and rarer. Brands just don’t commission 1 of 1 pieces like they used to, and modern examples like this one are extremely hard to come by. One should treat the opportunity to own this watch as a once-in-a-lifetime and act accordingly.