Pure & Simple: Patek Philippe Calatrava vs. Lange Saxonia

A Lange & Sohne Saxonia front

The Saxonia’s lancet-shaped, rhodium-plated gold hands contrast well with its black dial.

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.






About Jens Koch

Comments

  1. Nick Lerescu says:

    Excellent article filled with many useful details. Having visited both manufactures, with an Advantage Tours group of high grade watch aficionados, I concur with the author regarding the amount of time dedicated to finishing the movements. In my opinion the lack of an exhibition back at Calatrava is a pro rather than a con. Final thought: Every time one sees a comparison between two luxury watches, one of them is a Patek. Coincidence? I think not.

    Nick Lerescu

  2. Jonathan Ziegler says:

    Great compare + you assumed the bold position of granting the photo-finish to Lange.

    However, I am curious why you did a two-off comparison and did not include the Piaget equivalent, the Altiplano? Despite it being a micro-rotor automatic, it certainly has a similar price-point and perhaps could have been included.

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