105.022 A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia
These days, I’m finding a significant amount of delight in the darker corners of Lange. Things like the guilloché Lange 1s, solid backs, steel examples, first gen Datos, early MiGs, obscure Cabarets, but particularly Lange’s simplest offering: the Saxonia. Lange broke its own rules in the early years, one of the brand’s founding principles was one watch, one movement, each model should have a dedicated calibre fit to purpose. But the 102.001 and 102.002, cry shame, had a square calibre from the Arkade hiding behind the solid back. This is like lifting the engine hood of your M5 only to find it’s a washing machine with some speakers attached; unholy. Or asking Terminator-era Schwarzenegger to go for a run; all show and no go. It was in 1997 that Lange corrected this fault and put a round calibre in a round case to create the Saxonia shown here.
This, the 105.022, is what many consider the real first Saxonia, or at least the first that honors all the principles Lange stand for. Even though that L941.3 was based on the 1815’s L941.1, it was still its own entity. It was also in 1997 that the Saxonia received an automatic movement. That Sax-O-Mat, while widely lauded as one of the finest automatic calibres ever produced (particularly on a value basis), is not the purist’s experience that manually-wound exhibition caseback provides. There’s an utter confidence in this early design, 34mm with a bold brand signature straight across the center of the dial that works well. Lange haven’t attempted the same dial design since. Lange’s design doesn’t rely on history, it simply works.
Still today, the 105.022 and 105.021 are fantastic relatively accessible entry points into Lange, though they are beginning to enter what we’d call ‘highly collected’ territory. They’ve climbed from the 10K range five years ago to mid 20s in a few short years, thanks to a few higher profile sales and excellent scholarship on Lange’s early years. Mainly though, they’re attractive for their daring dials, almost winged with that signature and the tiny diamond indices on 5s. Quirky and German don’t get thrown together often, but here we are. Let’s hope that it ages better than the Isetta and continues to hit harder than jägermeister cold brew (a hero’s start to a weekend).
This example appears quite well cared for, which is the case strangely for the majority of watches out of Japan, it must be a cultural thing which I absolutely respect. The case is lightly worn with tiny hairlines but not one significant mark. The dial is unblemished, hands perfect. It comes with its full set, papers and all, from a well-regarded Japanese retailer.