For most of A.Lange & Söhne’s history—or more specifically since the brand was relaunched in 1994—they have produced almost exclusively dressy timepieces made of precious metals, and while dress watches are great, steel sports watches are very much dominating the watch collecting world. The most popular of these are very specifically steel sports watches with integrated bracelets and blue dials (you know who you are). This increasingly popular market segment has been dominated by more prominent, more established brands like Patek Phillipe and Audemars Piguet, and until recently, Lange didn’t have a competitor. Enter the Odysseus, reference 363.179.
Make no bones about it. This is Lange’s attempt to go toe to toe with the Nautilus and Royal Oak. But unlike many other brands who offer “me too” versions, this watch is an entirely original take on the stainless steel integrated sports watch. As a Lange fan, you would recognize the Odysseus as a member of the family even if you had no idea it was released. Key design traits like the font, hands, hour markers, and trademark big day and date are classic Lange. The 40.50mm round case shape is familiar but a bit more sporty. More than the case, it’s the bracelet that really pushes this watch into more casual territory. The Odysseus is still a classic Lange timepiece, just in jeans and a sport coat.
While visually, the Odysseus is on the dressier side of sports watches, Lange has gone the extra mile to ensure the case and bracelet can take a beating. It’s water-resistant to up to 120 meters—more than the Nautilus or Royal Oak, and 30m shy of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas—and has a screw-down crown. Its bold rectangular lugs and the ‘ears’ that flank the crown are some of the more sporty design elements. The ears actually act as pushers for advancing the day and date, all while giving the watch better lines.
The lugs integrate with the bracelet nicely though it’s not truly integrated as you can swap it for a strap if you wish. Like the rest of the watch, the five-link bracelet is refined but rugged and has primarily brushed finishing with polished flanks, beveled edges, and a nifty micro-adjustable clasp. The ability to adjust on the fly and maintain a perfect fit is essential if this watch is indeed going to be used for sporting activities.
The ready for anything attitude of the Odysseus continues to the movement. Inside beats the brand new Calibre L155.1 DATOMATIC made from the ground up for this watch line. This is an automatic movement with a shock-resistant balance, a 50-hour power reserve, and finishing to a level that only Lange can achieve. Capable of being jostled around, I think it’s also safe to say that this is the most beautiful sports watch movement ever made, and it’s probably not even close.
The blue dial is very on-trend, but Lange still makes it their own. The varied finishing, multiple levels, and the fact that Lange decided to go with a small running second hand rather than center all make this watch feel right at home in the Lange line up. The dial drives home the watch’s central theme.
Lange wanted to make sure this watch was instantly recognizable as one of their watches. However, in doing this, they also incidentally made it a sort of dress/sport hybrid that I haven’t seen before. While a Nautilus, Royal Oak, or even Datejust are all sporty timepieces that can be dressed up, they are decidedly casual compared to the Odysseus.
This watch looks like what I imagine a sports watch made in the ’30s would look like if they had the horological know-how. It’s a hate it or love it style, and I think that’s what makes the Odysseus so great. The watch world is flooded with designs meant to appeal to everyone. The Odysseus is a very particular luxury sports watch, and like the brand’s other timepieces, is built for the horologically educated. The person who decides to buy this watch knows exactly what it makes it special. The same can not be said for most of its competitors in this market segment.