White metal, black dial. This is what so many look for when considering a high-end chronograph. The Datograph Up/Down, a staple of high-end chronographery (is that a word? no, but it should be) hit on that, and the platinum case plus black dial coupled with arguably the sexiest damn movement in all of watchmaking made it a quick classic. But the Datograph isn’t perfect for all; nay, some prefer its slightly thinner, slightly more slender little brother, the 1815 chronograph. I am, in fact, one of those people, and an original 1815 chronograph in white gold remains part of my core collection to this day. I am, not shockingly, wearing it as I write this story.
This watch features the very same chronograph caliber as the Datograph, but is 1.5mm thinner because it does not feature the outsized date complication – it’s essentially a Datograph without the date. And that concept was taken one step further today as A. Lange & Söhne unveiled an 1815 chronograph with a black dial.
But this isn’t just a black dial version of the current 1815, it’s a black pulsation dial, or a tweak to the boutique edition 1815 that was introduced in September of 2015. Now that watch, of course, was inspired by the very first 1815 chronograph from 2004, which had a pulsation dial in silver with a white gold case and a black pulsation dial with the rose gold variant. This is the first time Lange has offered a black pulsation dial in a white metal case, and the combination is one that is hard to ignore. What makes the piece even more compelling is, quite frankly, the other side to the watch, which has been described by our own Kevin Rose as "A little city back there." The caliber is simply spectacular, and there isn’t a single person that would dispute the claim that this chronograph is among the finest ever produced. With this new watch, nothing has changed, and you’ll still have the wonderful view from behind.
But while this new black dial chronograph definitely gives you Dato vibes, this dateless Datograph remains very much an 1815 family member. We don’t have the power reserve indicator or the applied hour markers. The case is gold, not platinum, and the size remains 39.5mm instead of 41mm. It is a very compelling offering indeed, and one that will surely attract the attention of many high-end chronograph buyers because, well, how could it not? Furthermore, it’s less expensive than any competitive in-house watch from Patek or Vacheron (we reviewed the Datograph versus the Harmony Chrono versus the 5170G here).
I think an even more interesting comparison for this new reference would be to the original 1815 chronograph, which I also happened to be wearing while viewing this watch for the first time. The watches are all but identical physically – both 39.5mm in diameter by 10.8mm thick and both in white gold. The watch tends to sit higher on the wrist than the sub-11mm depth might indicate because of the lip that encases the sapphire caseback. It’s not too thick on the wrist, but it’s certainly not svelte either. Naturally, it is is thinner than the Datograph Up/Down, which is 13.1mm thick.
The mechanical differences between the first generation and the second are small but important – the power reserve was increased considerably to 60 hours from the 36 found in the first generation. Physically, the dials are almost mirror images of each other, though this new black pulsation dial uses the larger diameter sub-registers found in the second generation, non-pulsation dials (as seen here).
You see a slightly different font used, and a different signature at six o’clock on the old versus new, and it should be noted that this is not an exact copy of the original rose gold 1815 chronograph dial – that had the smaller sub-registers and they were an off-white color where as this is all black. Here is my first generation watch versus this new black dial second generation watch.
The new 1815 Chronograph with black dial will not replace the non-pulsation dial version, and it will also not be a boutique exclusive – meaning this watch will be available at any authorized A. Lange & Söhne dealer. The price on this watch will be the same as the other 1815s, at $50,300, and it will be slotted nicely against all other major high-end chronograph competition. You can find more information on the Lange 1815 chronograph here.