In mid 20th century, a gentleman who lived in New York was the fortunate owner …
Two of the most classical luxury Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196j replica watches face to face, two iconic names that sound sweet to the ears of collectors and watch aficionados, two manufactures known for their capacity to create splendid, underrated and discreet timepieces with a great elegance and superb movements.
A complication is a pretty thing, but it certainly doesn’t improve the legibility of a watch’s time display. And since the time of day is the most frequently sought information on a watch’s dial, it makes perfect sense to concentrate on the bare essentials: hours, minutes and perhaps also a subdial for the seconds hand to show that the watch is still running.
Here is a comparison of two classical offers, the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196j versus the A. Lange & Sohne Saxonia, made by our friends of ceepo.co.uk. Even the presence of a date display can detract from the perfect harmony and clarity of a dial. The beauty of A. Lange & Söhne’s Saxonia and Patek Philippe’s Calatrava Reference 5196j resides in their simplicity. Absolutely nothing superfluous can be found on these gorgeously pure wristwatches.
Both A. Lange & Sohne and Patek Philippe are safe bets for those seeking a dress watch and it is time now to face them.
The two timepieces we tested are a far cry from the complicated creations for which both brands are famed. Each watch displays nothing but the time; each shows the passing seconds on an off-center sub-dial; and each has indices rather than numerals. The bare-essentials appearance of the dial reflects the simplicity of the movements. Neither has a self-winding mechanism. Both are therefore able to fit in very slim, elegant cases. Although the movements stick strictly to the basics, both are elaborately decorated by hand. The cases and other visible components are also of the highest quality. In a nutshell, they represent pure ticking luxury.
Patek Philippe, which was founded in 1839, is privately owned. This manufacture has created numerous spectacular timepieces in the course of its illustrious history, including the world’s most complicated pocket watches, which were built on commission from the banker Henry Graves. Patek Philippe was also among the first brands to produce wristwatches. The Calibre 89 pocket watch, which debuted in 1989, has 33 functions and remains the world’s most complicated portable timepiece (roughly the size of a grapefruit, it’s so large that the term “watch” seems like a misnomer).
Both watches look to the past for their design inspiration. The Calatrava reference 5196 bears the same final digits as the original Calatrava, the reference 96 from 1932. The polished fake Patek Philippe reference 5196j borrows its precursor’s dauphine hands, seconds subdial, faceted indices and wreath of tiny dots forming the minute circle. The diameter of the 96 was significantly smaller, so the rim of its seconds subdial was tangent to the periphery of the dial at 6 o’clock.
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.
It isn’t so easy to identify the Saxonia’s precursor. A model with this name was introduced at the brand’s rebirth in 1994. Like the current model, the 1994 Saxonia eschewed both numerals and automatic winding, but its rhombic indices differed from the indices on the new Saxonia. Like all Lange models launched since the firm’s revival, the Saxonia has lancet-shaped hands.
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.
When it comes to talk about the subject of money, both watches are priced approximately the same. The Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196j comes for 16.330 Euros and the A. Lange & Sohne Saxonia for 16.700 Euros. The choice of one of the watches has not to be guided by such matter but instead, by the sense of watchmaking and the feeling on the wrist that both bring, each with a very personal design and appeal.
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 copy watch.