740.056 A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon
I’m old enough in watch years to just remember a time when old Swiss men on the internet would call Lange ‘not as serious’ a brand as Patek Philippe. The comparison is useless, the two manufactures approach watchmaking with such distinct philosophies. But, if there were any remaining doubt, surely this ref. 740.056 puts it to the grave. I’ve often called the Datograph calibre L951.6 the finest chronograph movement made at scale. By contrast, this is arguably the finest very complicated movement made not in any scale, 100 examples to be precise. Look, when Alp over at Langepedia calls a watch his ‘one ring’, referring to Gollum in LOTR, you should pay attention. He knows things, as far as I’m concerned he’s the Galdalf here and this is the Lange to rule them all.
Very keen readers of Hairspring will note there have been a bit fewer ACM highlights recently, but it’s time for good old fashioned check in with the very top of the market. See, as we’ve grown and they’ve grown, the portion of our audience which overlaps has become huge. Therefore, it simply makes sense to feature watches which readers probably won’t have seen from smaller outlets. But I have a few notes to add here, and it’s not every day you get to dive into a 740.056; I have things to say. And I wish to celebrate their team’s continued successes.
Have a look at a 5270 very closely. That is the archetype. No informational display here reads remotely traditionally, and yet the dial is totally uncluttered. It’s not just a different approach, but balanced. I particularly love how elegantly the power reserve carries on from the arc of the tachymetre. It reads Datograph first, complication second. The Dato Perpetual Tourbillon came out in 2016, and felt like a declaration of not just ability but victory lap for the Datograph and its offspring as a whole. The salmon dial, or more accurately solid pink gold, came a few years after and is the one for me.
The movement is simply a marvel, as you will expect. But most importantly, to my sensibility, the tourbillon is not dial-side. This makes the 740.056 (and 740.046) infinitely more attractive than a Pour le Mérite and just about anything comparable. That’s half the appeal of Laurent Ferrier’s entire brand for me, very few watchmakers do the hidden tourbillon anymore . Allow me a motoring analog. On a podcast, designer of the Mclaren F1 Gordon Murray revealed that during development, the created a test mule BMW M5 wagon . . .with the 6.1L V12. That’s the hidden tourbillon: discreet, but ungodly levels of R&D lurking beneath. How is that not sexier? And remember this is Lange. So they’ve assembled those 729 German silver components twice.
Speaking of R&D, you see that pusher at 10? That’s not a split seconds, but something else. Because this is a manually-wound perpetual calendar, its wearer may need to set it often. That pusher advances all calendar functions by one day, totally in-step. Those fantastic Germans carry on the long-lived tradition over there of actually considering how an object is used, in detail. Oh, and the tourbillon’s jewel is a diamond, not ruby. I’m starting to understand how Smeagol fell out of society and became possessed.
This example is lightly worn, nothing more. I see only very light marks on the white gold, most at four, six, and eight. It comes with its full set from our friends in London.