Head-to-Head: Patek Philippe Calatrava 6000R VS A. Lange & Söhne Grand Langematik
by Owen Davies ; @86imaging | June 07, 2017
This month I’m comparing two watches for special occasions from special manufacturers. The Patek Philippe Calatrava 6000R and the A. Lange & Söhne Langematik are pretty far removed from your average daily wearer and I’m interested to find out which of the two is best.
As usual, I’ll be comparing the watches in three main categories—design, movement and wearability—and choosing a winner. Now, I’m going to be upfront and say that I absolutely love both of these watches and was very excited to put them through their paces. I think this may just be the most difficult head-to-head decision I’ve had to make! Let’s get into it.
Starting with the Calatrava 6000R. My first thoughts are that the dial seems a little busy. This is due to the date display being spread around the outer ring of the dial instead of a more traditional date window. This wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but because the Calatrava features Arabic hour markers, which aren’t much larger than the date ones, it makes the dial difficult to read at first glance. The rest of the dial is fantastic though. I love the brown-burst finish, the sector-style layout and the small seconds dial positioned at 4 o’clock is also nice touch.
The date hand with a crescent moon tip reminds me of vintage triple calendar watches and is a nice throwback to that era of watchmaking. Finally, the rounded 37 mm 18k rose gold case, in keeping with the Calatrava range, is simple and elegant and is complemented beautifully by the brown crocodile leather strap and folding clasp.
The A. Lange & Söhne Grand Langematik (which our editor reviewed in detail here) is much bolder in its appearance when compared to the Patek. The black dial is less cluttered with only simple baton markers denoting hours and minutes. The sword-shaped hands stretch across almost the entire width of the dial, making the watch appear larger than its 40 mm case suggests. This brings us to the main feature on the Grand Langematik—the date window. Whereas most watch manufacturers tend to almost hide date displays on their dials, A Lange & Söhne proudly position them front and centre. The large two-digit aperture is bold, yet it still retains an elegant look and really gives the watch a unique appearance. When coupled with the large sub-second dial at 6 o’clock, it makes the Grand Langematik very noticeable.
The case of the Langematik measures 40 mm in diameter and features much broader lugs than the Calatrava. This gives the watch a modern look and a bit more presence on the wrist. It comes on a black croc-leather strap and a tang clasp that bears the word "LANGE", carrying on the bold theme of the rest of the watch.
In the first of what I imagine are going to be three closely contested categories, my winner is the Grand Langematik. Whilst I also really like the Calatrava for its more traditional styling, I prefer the bolder overall effect of the Lange, and I find the dial much easier to read. If Patek had switched the Arabic hour markers for batons or dots, I think it would balance the watch better and make it much easier to read at a glance. This may not be a problem for some people, but as these two watches are so closely matched it really comes down to the small details.
Inside the Grand Langematik beats an L921.4 calibre self-winding movement. The calibre, made fully in house by A. Lange & Söhne, has a frequency of 21,600 VPH and a power reserve of 48 hours. It’s beautifully hand finished and features a solid gold and platinum off-centre winding rotor, which can be viewed in all its glory through the sapphire exhibition case back.
The movement inside the Calatrava 6000R is quite similar to the Lange. As with all Patek Philippe watches, it is in-house, in this case the calibre 240 PS C. It has the same stats as the ALS movement and also features a solid gold off-centre winding rotor. The finishing is at the same high level as the Langematik, if a little more restrained and can be viewed through the sapphire crystal case back.
Patek and Lange are very prestigious brands, so I would expect the highest quality watchmaking from them both and thankfully neither disappointed. Both of these watches feature the horological holy grail of an in-house movement and are evenly matched on paper, therefore I’m calling a draw for this category.
Unsurprisingly, this is the category I was looking forward to most with these two watches. Starting with the Calatrava, I found it to be extremely comfortable on the wrist. The 37 mm case size is a great fit and feels very refined on the wrist. The case is only 7 mm thick so I wasn’t at all worried about accidentally knocking it on a desk edge or door frame. The deployant clasp is snappy and is easy to operate, making removing the watch a breeze (though I’m not sure why you would ever want to take it off!)
Being a time and date watch, functionality is relatively straightforward. The watch can be hand wound with the crown at the closed position and the time is set by pulling the crown out. Setting the date is done by using the small pusher at 10 o’clock. This can be tricky if you need to set the date in a hurry, say, if you’re on the way out in the morning, as a special tool is needed to depress the button. This is common feature in many Patek Philippe watches and does keep the shape of the case, but I would prefer to be able to set the date using the crown.
The Langematik is also very comfortable to wear. At 40 mm by 10 mm it’s larger than the Patek, but it’s still slim enough to not worry me when wearing it. The 18k rose gold gives the watch a lovely heft to it and makes you feel like you’re wearing something special. The tang buckle isn’t quite as sophisticated as the Calatrava’s deployant, but it’s finished to a great standard and it’s easy to operate.
Setting the time is done in the same way by pulling the crown out, but the Langematik has a nice hacking seconds function that stops and resets the second dial to 60. This means you can accurately set the time and synchronise it with another source. The date is set using a pusher in the same place as the Calatrava, but it’s larger than the Patek’s, allowing it to be set without the need for an additional tool. This is very useful when you need to set the watch in a hurry and you also get a satisfying click each time the date is advanced.
Again, this was a difficult choice; both watches are incredibly easy to wear, even on a daily basis. I like the more subtle shape of the Patek, but the boldness and weight of the Lange is too tempting for me. Add this to the easier date change and the neat little hacking seconds function and I’d pick the Lange nine times out of ten.
As I said at the start, this was probably the hardest decision I’ve made in this series so far. These are two fantastic watches and to be honest, I would be more than happy with either of them, but this is Head-to-Head and that means we need a winner!
With two wins out of three, the A. Lange & Söhne Grand Langematik is the champ here, but by the smallest of margins. I prefer the bolder design of the Lange and the big date window is a fantastic feature. The main issue I had with the Patek is the dial design—I just think there’s a little too much going on for its size. There are other references in the Calatrava range, namely the 5296G and 5296R, that have far better dial designs, which I would almost certainly pick over the Langematik.
I think A. Lange & Söhne are probably the only manufacturer able to produce a watch of high enough quality to beat Patek Philippe in a head to head. So while I would gladly be a part of the rich heritage associated with both companies, the Grand Langematik is my pick today.
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