A COMPARISON OF THE KEYLESS WORKS IN A PATEK AND A LANGE
BY WALT ODETS
There has been
much discussion about the relative qualities of the Lange
and Patek. Both are obviously very finely made watches.
I have also felt that there are certain failures of craft in the
Lange that I do not find in Pateks. I thought it would be
useful to simply illustrate some differences between these two
watches in the hope that others would draw their own conclusions,
whatever they might be. I must provide context by saying
that I am illustrating the area I find weakest in the Lange,
the bottom plate and keyless works. I have not
seen comparable weaknesses anywhere in a Patek.
works of a Patek caliber 240 (above) and a Lange
caliber L942.1 (below) are illustrated left.
of parts and fineness of craft is better in the Patek.
Below, I will comment on some of the details. Both
photographs have previously been used in Horologium reviews.
the edges on the bottom plate are shown for the Patek (left)
and Lange (right). The Patek edges are crafted
with a fineness, precision, and polish that is lacking in
Two critical components of the keyless works, the
clutch return lever (2) and pull piece (3)
are illustrated. The edges of these parts and their
functional form is much more finely made in the Patek (left).
In this particular Lange, the form of these two parts allowed
the pull piece to ride over the soft lobe of the
clutch return lever (right, 4).
The hand setting position could not be securely engaged
in this new watch. Note (left, 4) that
Patek is also using a shaved spring to hold the pull piece
flat and prevent the problem encountered in the Lange.
The keyless works cover in both watches are well-made.
But again, the edges on the Patek (left) are more
finely and evenly cut, and more finely polished.
The point in making
this comparison is not to use a single area of the Lange
to condemn it, but to illustrate the kinds of detail differences
in craft that make one watch more esteemed than another by those
who pursue craft in a watch. Because magnification in many
Horologium articles has made it difficult for some to judge the
significance of issues, the comparison of two watches, comparably
magnified, provides some insight.
In general, the Lange is an extremely well-made and well-finished
watch. Lange cases are of uniformly excellent construction
and quality and, in my opinion, better than most of Patek’s cases.
While the top plate of the Lange is not better crafted than those
of Pateks, it is certainly more elaborately and expensively made.
The color and sheen of the nickel silver plates and bridges (which
is, however, a less expensive construction than the rhodium-plated
brass used in Pateks); the use of screwed jewel chatons; engraving
of the balance cock; the use of decorative screws on the balance
wheel and a swan’s neck spring for the regulator; and perfect
finishing of the top plate and most visible components all provide
a feel of quality and substance, and have gained Lange a wide
following. The bottom plate and keyless works, however,
depart to some extent from the standard of craft exhibited in
the top plate and most other parts of the watch and offer an interesting,
if fairly subtle, contrast. In the instance of the watch
illustrated, a functional problem also resulted. Although
I am not aware of another instance of this problem, the construction
of the keyless works should probably be improved.
© 2020 Bourne in Time Inc.