Sunday Morning Showdown: The New A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Rate it or hate it? Whose side are you on? by Rob Nudds April 26, 2020 MIN READSunday Morning Showdown: The New A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus
In this Sunday morning column, two of our writers go head-to-head in an epic showdown for the ages. Strong opinions and hysterical hyperbole are welcome (so feel free to join in with the fun in the comments section below). And don’t forget to let us know which watches you’d like to see torn to shreds/effusively exalted next week. We’ll try and feature as many of our readers’ choices as we can. Are you ready for round two? Next up is the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus with a sumptuous new dial.
While you may still be drooling over the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk extravaganza we featured this morning, we’re coming right back at you with the second post in our SMS double-header. That’s right, there is yet more from the storied German manufacture for us to lust over. Following last year’s controversial drop of the Odysseus stainless steel sports model, Lange has brought out a range mate with a couple of interesting strap options to boot. But it would seem that not everyone is a fan. Cast your vote as Mike and Rob go hammer and tongs over the latest A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus release.
If you read our article on the new Zeitwerk model this morning, you’ll know I’m a fan of the brand. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out and cast your vote. But as much of a fan as I am, I was not entirely enthused when the new all-steel A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus debuted last year.
Yes, it was what we’d been waiting for. Yes, the teasers leading up to the drop were thoroughly on point. And yes, Lange delivered a package that was in no way phoned in. The massive day/date display was an unexpected addition. The protrusive “crown platform” down the righthand side of the case was an unanticipated flourish. And that bracelet? Well, as far as bracelets go, it was pretty much a work of art.
And yet despite all of this, I wasn’t blown away. There was something I wasn’t 100% sold on. After seeing the newest edition of the Odysseus, I realize that it was — as I had fleetingly considered — the dial texture. As much as I like a rough surface on my budget beaters, the mottled blue dial of the original Odysseus wasn’t my cup of tea.
But now we have an alternative. And it isn’t just a chromatic variant, oh no. The new gray-dialed Odysseus (in white gold) has a totally different finish. It is, for my money, exactly what the range needed to come alive. Aside from the fact the cool, slate gray comes off extremely on brand, the finish is far more luxurious. This is the luxury alternative to the steel model from last year. As such, it has a luxury price tag of €39,500. It may be sporty in style but, realistically, this is an investment model that will likely never see saltwater.
For that reason, the slick, turbine-style dial feels right at home, and finally makes the Odysseus a collection I’m totally on board with. But I believe our grouchy Floridian feels differently. Let’s find out…
Wow, it’s a rough day when a Manc calls you grouchy, but I guess I deserve it due to my often “glass half empty” view of things. When it comes to the Odysseus, though, you’re going to get served a full glass of empty!
Rob: That’s not even a thing…
Mike: It is now, Bobby, it is now. Look, I just don’t get it when these high-end dress watch brands decide to dip their toe into the shark-infested sporty watch category. Oh sure, there’s a market out there and product managers will happily trumpet the opportunity of new revenue streams. But just because a company can enter into a new genre doesn’t mean that it should. Case in point: the Lange Odysseus.
From high upon the Mount Olympus of finely crafted complicated dress watches, Lange decided to look down upon the detritus below. What it saw was a horde of well-heeled sport watch wearers who have the money but no interest in oak-paneled boardroom watches. So, the gods of Lange threw them a bone with the Odysseus. Unfortunately, I find that tidbit more on the level of a dog’s breakfast.
Let me give my view on Lange so that you don’t misunderstand my dislike for the Odysseus. Models like the Lange 1 are legends for good reason. They boast unique looks in a marketplace filled with Calatrava wannabes. Their movements are incredible and the finishing is second to none. In my view, Lange’s collection takes the current “Blah-tek” offerings to the woodshed and leaves them for dead. But the Oydsseus is a rare misstep.
I like the asymmetry that Lange normally brings to its dials, but on the Odysseus they chose to bring it to the case. I really like that look — on a $1,500 RAF military chronograph. Here, it looks Kickstarter. And then there are the proportions. I understand that integrated bracelets are all the rage right now, but why the hell are the lugs so wide? They dwarf the case and looks about 2mm too wide.
And don’t get me started on the dial. For a brand that’s all about subtlety, it’s as if they invited the designer of the Ulysse Nardin into the office and cribbed a rejected design. I have no doubt that everything on the Odysseus is finished to perfection and that the bracelet is as wonderful as Rob states. That being said, it would never find its way to my wrist. This watch is no bueno in my book.
Rob: Y’know, I think you did a pretty good job of echoing pretty much every concern I’ve heard in regards to the Odysseus. Is it off-brand? Was it necessary? Does it make any sense whatsoever?
Truthfully, I was as skeptical at first as you are still. And I’m not going to patronize you by saying you’ll change your mind when you get it on your wrist. But I do think that the opinions toward this watch design will soften over time. It’s a tough one to take because it is so different. But I think Lange did a smart job of keeping the watch recognizably Saxon (with the dial) while taking the appropriate risks with the case (and super-wide strap) to give it a sporty bite.
Yeah, you’re right: the bracelet was like a five-lane highway. I did not think it was a good look at first. But I actually love it now. I think this white gold version looks at home on the rubber or leather strap (and could you imagine the price of an all-gold bracelet to boot!). For once, I prefer the leather over the rubber, but I think that both accentuate the wideness of the lugs. I think the bracelet hugs everything together, giving it an integrated look that I really dig. As crazily expensive as it would be, I’d love to see this dial on a bracelet. I certainly think that’s a look I think will win over a lot of those on the fence. So what do you say, Mike? Feel like coming down to my side ay time soon?
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About the author
Rob’s first exposure to the watch industry was a part-time retail role for the Signet Group at the age of 17. An obsession with watches soon developed. Following an ill-advised BSc in Archaeological Science, he applied for sponsorship to undertake… read more
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