A rare, extremely attractive and charismatic platinum chronograph wristwatch of the famous German brand A. Lange & Söhne, founded in 1845. Reference launched in 1999. Estimated production period: 1999–2005. Case in platinum 950, diameter 39mm, thickness 12.8mm, sapphire caseback, 18k white gold signed crown. Black solid-silver dial, silvered sub-dials, gold rhodium plated and luminous hour and minute hands, applied indexes and big-date window frame in rhodium-plated gold. Caliber L951.1, hand-wound, hairspring with Breguet overcoil, power reserve up to 36 hours. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, small seconds hand at 8 o’clock, big date indicator at 12 o’clock, flyback chronograph with central seconds and precision jumping minute counter at 4 o’clock. Black leather strap, A. Lange & Söhne platinum 950 double folding clasp.
The Datograph Ref. 403.035 was introduced in 1999 as the first wrist chronograph by A. Lange & Söhne. Considered probably the most iconic and well-known of all A. Lange & Söhne Datograph wristwatches, the present reference features a platinum case, a black dial with silvered sub-dials, and solid-platinum A. Lange & Söhne double folding clasp. Especially for the Datograph watch, Lange developed the L951.1 hand-wound caliber with a unique (and probably yet to be reproduced by any other brand) combination of functions with a large date display, a jumping minute counter and a flyback function in a high-end caliber of traditional design with side clutch and control from the column wheel.
Ref. 403.035 is the longest-lived of all seven Datograph references ever issued by the brand, being produced from the launch of the collection in 1999 until the introduction of an upgraded Datograph Up/Down in 2012, and it is believed that Ref. 403.035 was actually still produced until 2013. Langepedia.com mentions that exact production numbers are still unknown, and estimates the total production of all Datograph references being fewer than four thousand pieces. Acollectedman.com believes that the Ref. 403.035 makes up about two-thirds of all Datograph production, of which three-quarters are from the earlier ‘Meter Dial’ version.
The unique combination of the classic chronograph complication with flyback function, jumping minute counter and big date strengthened the reputation of A. Lange & Söhne as a leading master of modern chronograph wristwatches.
The ‘Meter Dial’ is an early version of the Datograph, distinguished by the inscription “Meter” in “Base 1000 Meter” on the tachymeter scale at the periphery of the dial, while a later version produced from around 2006 and starting with a case number around 155000 had this inscription in a modified form: “Base 1000 Meters”. Accordingly, later versions should be referred to as the ‘Meters Dial’. If such a dial appears on a watch produced prior to 2005 and the case number is less than 155000, it’s fairly likely that the dial has been replaced during service. Based on Acollectedman’s estimate, the total production of the Ref. 403.035 ‘Meter Dial’ is approximately 1500 to 2000 pieces.
The caliber L951.1 of the present reference is regarded as one of the most beautiful chronograph movements of the modern era, with an outstanding quality in the finishing of the parts and once praised by the independent watchmaker Philippe Dufour, the acknowledged guru of traditional fine finishing. Particularly noteworthy are the design and high-end finishing of the chronograph mechanism of the present reference, featuring bridges in untreated German silver, multiple levers and flat steel springs that control the chronograph functions via the traditional column wheel. One should note the four jewels in screwed gold chatons, a typical high-end feature for Lange wrist- and pocket watches.
The design advantages of caliber L951.1 undoubtedly include a large balance with adjustment eccentrics, a hairspring with Breguet overcoil, beautifully curved levers and flat springs (especially the chronograph intermediate wheel lever), and the presence of steel parts with black polishing – these include the caps on the escape wheel and fourth wheel shafts, a column wheel and various other parts. In addition, the gold chatons received mirror polishing. Overall, the meticulous finishing with straight grinding, Glashütte stripes, perlage, blued screws, polished bevels, a swan neck micrometer regulator, and engraved and gilded inscriptions, in addition to those already noted above, makes the movement incredibly eye-catching, while the traditionally hand-engraved balance cock makes this watch feel like one of a kind.
Reasons to bid
The ‘Meter Dial’ is an early version of the Datograph Ref. 403.035, considered to be one of the most charismatic and desirable wristwatches of A. Lange & Söhne. Therefore, the present lot would be an excellent purchase for the collector who desires a rare, extremely attractive and charismatic platinum chronograph wristwatch from a world-famous traditional watch brand, the undisputed market leader in German high watchmaking. The unique combination of the classic chronograph complication with flyback function, jumping minute counter and big date strengthened the reputation of A. Lange & Söhne as a leading master of modern chronograph wristwatches. The fine finishing of the movement’s parts and its exquisite and clearly very complex design will impress the heart of any connoisseur, and A. Lange & Söhne’s reputation in these aspects should be recognised as impeccable.