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.

 

 

The keyless works of a Patek caliber 240 (above) and a Lange caliber L942.1 (below) are illustrated left. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The precision 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.

Finishing of 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 the Lange.


 


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.


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