As you're probably all aware, I've been bitten by the simple gold dress watch bug, too (though I am in my late 30s). I finally had a chance to visit some boutiques while visiting family in Singapore, and had the opportunity to try on many of the watches discussed here, including the AP Jules Audemars Extra Thin, newer variations of the AP Jules Audemars Self-Winding, AL&S Saxonia Thin, AL&S Saxonia Dual time, AL&S 1815 (40mm, Up/Down, Chronograph), Lange 1, various Breguets, and PP Calatravas. I didn't get a chance to try any Vacherons, but maybe next week.
My favourite of the lot was the AL&S 1815 40mm in rose gold. The blued hands, subtle detailing on the dial (e.g. 3-dot marks at 3, 6, 9 and 12), rail-road track markers, recessed small seconds, three-quarter plate and beautifully finished swan-neck regulator just blew me away. The warmth of the red gold was also very pleasing, really taking a bit of the edge off the famed Glashutte austerity. The 1815 has a lot of heft on the wrist, yet feels incredibly balanced and slips nicely under a shirt cuff. Surprisingly, the 40mm watch sat nicely on my 6.75" wrist (I had gone in with reservations, fearing that the watch might be just a bit too big, with such a narrow bezel); probably something to do with the shape of the lugs. I had expected to be wowed by the AP Jules Audemars Extra Thin (open-worked rotor and movement detailing are simply stunning), Lange 1 or 1815 Chrono (the depth to the chrono movement and fineness of the finishing is simply superlative), but somehow the simple beauty of the 1815 time-only just sung to me. Just enough visual interest to the dial that I could wear the watch on more casual occasions, yet enough German austerity that it easily pairs with a suit and tie. The Saxonia Thin and AP JA Extra Thin felt just that little bit too formal for my needs/life style, with only 2 hands and very plain dials. Now the (long) wait until enough investments have matured that I have a little bit of spare change! Here's a photo from watchprosite.com (my own iPhone photos just didn't do the watch justice):
Interesting! I am glad to hear back on your "decision." I think that the AL&S 1815 Small Seconds may very well be the best of the bunch, for similar reasons to yourself. I love the VC Small Seconds, but it certainly lacks that reassuring heft that the Lange has. The Calatrava (5227) has a similar presence, something that I feel other watches in this price range are lacking. However, the 5227 is $10,000 more than the Lange, and $20,000 more than the VC. By the way, did you have a chance to check out the "new" 38.5mm version? That may work even better on your wrist.
It is funny that all this comes up this weekend, as yesterday I went to my semi-local Lange / Patek AD. I tried on the Lange Saxonia Thin, and really, really did not care for it too much. It felt very nice on the wrist, but it looked like a darn dinner plate. And the movement felt a bit small for the case size. I would like to get a chance to see the 38.5 1815 and Saxonia before too long, that might be the direction I end up going. Who knows. I seem to vacillate on a daily basis. Fortunately, I too am in the saving zone. It is not very easy saving up for a purchase this large, especially with NMWA only a click away!
The "time-only gold" watch segment has a ton of really, really great options. Very hard to ween the choices down.
I think one of the greatest things about the AL&S 1815 series is the versatility. I think you are right--in about 75% to 80% of situations, not only would the 1815 be a good choice, but it would be a GREAT choice. I feel it would look at home wearing a suit, or wearing shorts and a polo. That is very important to me.