One obvious difference between the two watches is the absence of a viewing window in the back of the Calatrava. Why did Patek Philippe omit it? The answer comes into view when one opens the case and discovers that the Caliber 215 is gorgeous, but also quite petite — slightly less than 22 mm in diameter. A similarly small viewing window might have been a disappointment. The self-winding Calatrava models, by contrast, do have exhibition casebacks, perhaps because their Caliber 315 SC, at 27 mm in diameter, is significantly larger than the 215. Even though Caliber 215 ticks unseen in the dark confines of a windowless case, Patek Philippe has given it the fine finishing and decorative flourishes associated with the best Geneva watchmaking: Geneva waves, beveled and polished edges, polished screw heads, satin-finished transmission wheel and ratchet wheel, polished flanks on the gears’ teeth, and a Gyromax balance. The movement also bears the Geneva Seal. The layout of the bridges hearkens back to the days of Patek pocket watches.
The Saxonia isn’t as shy; it shows off its movement through a sapphire caseback. Its movement, Caliber L941.1, doesn’t completely fill the case, either, but at 25.6 mm in diameter it is appreciably larger than the Patek caliber. The white gold rim around the window in the caseback provides room for the company name and watch serial number but isn’t unduly broad. The three-quarters plate, a tribute to the plates used in Lange’s 19-century pocket watches, is made of nickel silver and adorned with Glashütte waves. It is dotted with ruby jewels in gold settings, which are held in place by blued screws. The screw balance is affixed to a cock with hand-engraved embellishments and, on top, a swan’s neck fine adjustment mechanism. The edges are beveled and polished; the heads of the screws are polished; and the pallets, the escape wheel and the cover plate of the escape wheel are polished.
Unlike the Calatrava’s movement, the Saxonia’s is equipped with a stop-seconds function, which stops its seconds hand when the crown is pulled out. This feature makes it easier to set the watch with to-the-second accuracy. Winding and setting both watches is easy. The Calatrava clicks nobly while it is being wound, whereas the Saxonia is nearly inaudible.
The crowns on both watches are fairly easy to grasp. Very little force is needed to operate them. The somewhat larger crown on the Calatrava, combined with this watch’s slimness, means the winding button lies very close to the wrist. If you like to wear your watch low on your wrist, the crown might press uncomfortably against the back of your hand. Furthermore, the domed back gives this watch a tendency to shift position. The Saxonia fits more comfortably on the wrist, not solely because its crown is smaller, but also because its back is flat and its lugs are mounted very low. All this helps to prevent slippage on the wrist.
Both watches have hand-sewn, crocodile leather straps with cut edges and are of excellent quality. The Patek Philippe strap shines with glossy clear lacquer, while the Lange one has a matte finish.
Each strap has a simple prong buckle, in keeping with the watches’ overall minimalist design. A folding clasp is more elaborate and doesn’t necessarily enhance wearing comfort. Patek Philippe facets its prong very beautifully, but merely bends it around the crosspiece. The polished buckle is a good match for the watch and is instantly identifiable as being from Patek Philippe. Lange mills its prong from a solid block of precious metal and reinforces the buckle with an additional crossbar. The strap is guided through the buckle so that it scarcely needs to be bent; the clasp and strap fit closely on the wrist. The name “Lange” appears on the buckle in clear, capital letters.