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A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Flyback 403.032

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A. Lange & Sohne was first founded in 1845 as "Lange" by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in Glashutte, Germany, and they as a company produced some of the finest wrist and pocket watches of the era. Due mainly to bitter feelings, in 1948 after WWII the Soviets "expropriated" (see: took) Lange's assets and Lange ceased to exist, and Walter Lange fled the country to escape forced labor in uranium mines. After the end of the East German govt. in 1990, Walter Lange - with the help of Gunter Blumlein and a number of high-end switch watch companies (eg, IWC and Jaeger Le Coultre)- started up his great-grandfather's company, now calling it A. Lange & Sohne (literally A. Lange and sons. Especially fitting, as the Lange family has produced a large number of legendary watchmakers). After four years of rebuilding, in 1994 A. Lange & Sohne produced their first line of wristwatches, especially notably the Lange 1. Here is a photo of the first line:

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In the year 2000, A. Lange & Sohne joined the Richemont group, mainly due to Richemont's love of obtaining every penny used worldwide to purchase a watch. This was largely a strategic move, and A. Lange & Sohne is completely independently managed (meaning that Richemont isn't making any calls - just making some money by owning 90% of the company). The current CEO is Wilhelm Schmid, previous CEO of BMW and particularly big watch enthusiast. Thank goodness, right? Apparently he's a really nice guy interested in producing amazing and beautiful technological marvels that you wear around your wrist to tell the time.

 

Now to the point!

 

The Datograph Flyback - which is the watch I'm reviewing - was first introduced in 1999, and has been released in a number of styles over the years, being one of the more popular A. Lange & Sohne watches.

 

As for my watch:

 

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So far I've noticed a +7 second drift over 24 hours, which isn't terrible for the very first day after a long journey. I'm sure that in a week it'll be doing much better all on its own, and then I can start fine-tuning it and hopefully get sub-second results. It has an ST19 movement, so I'm sure that it's not too much a pipedream.

 

From some calculation, I've found that the mainspring is quite an amazing one at 66 hours' capacity, plus or minus about 3 (there's only such a large error because I've had the watch for roughly 25 hours now, and mainsprings are... interesting physics-wise, but I used some values found in a research paper and did a little calculus and ta-da! Numbers.)

 

The chrono seconds hand (center) and chrono half-hour hand both have minor problems with centering. The seconds hand, if sitting at 12, has the tendency to "slip" ~1/3 second. After testing, this doesn't affect the chrono's timekeeping, just the positioning. The hand is effectively loose, and tilting it too far while not in operation either left or right will make it flop a little. The half-hour chrono hand seems to go off 1/6th of a tick every 6 minutes, but a reset of the chrono time reliably sets it either to perfectly realigned or 1/6 of a tick counter-clockwise.

 

However, overall it's absolutely amazing. There are few issues at all design-wise (42mm instead of 39 mm, XII instead of ||, date window a little low and smaller), and details as small as the near-microscopic umlaut in Glashutte are amazingly precise and clean. The lume on the minutes and hours hands is easy to soak light and shines incredibly brightly (a test with an LED flashlight made the lume glow visibly strongly in a well-lit room in the daytime). The rose gold is absolutely stunning, and from some very fun experimentation, I've found it to be 14K rose gold, plated to 0.92 - 1.08 microns in thickness. The purity I calculated with a spectrometer reading and comparing to known ranges for popular rose gold mixtures, and I found 14K to match damn close enough to call it. The thickness of the plating was determined by abusing the fact that rose gold is made rose by copper, and using magnetic induction calculations (you know you're doing something right when you build a transformer with a watch as a 'component'), and I double-checked my answer by mildly abusing lab materials to do a ghetto beta backscatter experiment. As a note, strontium-90 makes lume glow like a motherfucker. It was somewhat awesome, and I'm terribly upset that I was too caught up with it all to get pictures of the monstrosity I set up with a friend. It actually ended up with less error than the induction measurements, and the error bars lined up well enough that 1.00 + or - 0.08 microns is a fairly solid measurement in my book.

 

The above measurement was much thicker than I was expecting, as it implies much more attention to the overall quality, which I greatly appreciate. And it was especially satisfying to discover after nerding the hell out about measuring it.

 

The glass face definitely has an AR coating, but it's hard to tell if it's a sapphire crystal or not. Although I do not have access to a diamond tester, I did some of the ghetto tests. The tapping test was inconclusive - it was fairly high-pitched, but it's also a thin glass, so it was hard to tell. The thermal conductivity of sapphire crystal is 42 times the thermal conductivity of glass, and as such should *feel* colder than glass at the same temperature (with pretty close heat capacities, sapphire and glass are good enough candidates for this method), and as far as I can tell the glass face is almost certainly sapphire glass. Thank goodness, because that's what I wanted and I was worried that replacing that was going to be a PITA. The caseback glass, however, is most certainly mineral glass and most certainly not AR coated. Oh well, the main viewer of that is my wrist, so it's not a major issue.

 

My biggest issue with the watch is actually that the ST19 has no hacking mechanism, and it amusingly enough seems well enough built that none of the tricks that I know of worked to slow or stop the seconds hand. But my defense against it was putting the minutes hand perfect compared to the actual time, so the minutes are correct and if I REALLY need the seconds, then the sub-minute markers can get me within 6 seconds of correct if I work for it.

 

Here's a gallery of photos of the watch:

(http://imgur.com/a/e92Fn#0 for direct link)

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myaz

Interesting. Can you 'splain, in English as opposed to theoretical differential equations speak, keeping in mind that I'm not a rocket scientist, how magnetic induction calculations using the watch as a transformer component allowed you to determine the thickness of the gold plating? Amazing that you have access to a spectrometer for hobby purposes. I'd sure like to hear more. Thanks for the review.

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marre

Has anyone bought the 39mm datograph from watch international? I know they had them earlier for around 220 dollars. Since they are more true to size I'm wondering if they are as good/beautiful as the 42mm?

Also, anyone knows if watch international still has them, if so for how much?

 

Thanks.

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baires

I'm also looking for a Datograph flyback. Is there only one rep of it, so it would be the same watch whichever TD I use, or are there several reps of different qualities?

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Mcloughlind

Was the gimble pin left or right handed? ;-)

 

Nice work and a lovely watch!

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bushero

Humorous review with some good bits. Excellent photos.

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teamehe

Have to say that is a beautiful watch!!

 

Was it purchased from one of our TD's?

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missa146

Great review, very precise. Good to read some science-backed reviews

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