Alright, the day has finally come. I’m going to talk about one of our favorite hot button topics date windows. Yep, that’s right folks: I, Cara Barrett, love a good date window. Not only do I love them, but also I think they are the second most useful function of a watch (after telling the hour and the minutes, of course).
Do you know how often I check my watch for the date? At least 10 times a day, no joke. And when I’m wearing my Daytona, I stillcheck 10 times a day and am disappointedthat my watch doesn’t show me what I’m looking for. By now, most of you have already scrolled down to the comments section to express your disdain for me, my opinion, and any of my calendar-inclined compatriots so, for those of you still reading, I want to clarify that there is a big difference between a good date display and a bad one. I have seen a lot of bad ones in my time, and often they read as cheap afterthoughts. But a good one? Oof. Here is a list of some of the best examples of a date display done so right that even the most passionate of date-haters can get onboard.
A. Lange & Shne Lange 1
I’ll start with the beloved A. Lange and Shne Lange 1. Lange has managed to create a well-balanced and thoughtful date display with two apertures. It was first seen at Lange’s launch, all the way back in 1994, appearing on three of the four debut models, and it was inspired by the clock at the Semper Opera house in Dresden. Since then, it’s become a signature of the brand, something instantly recognizable. Both tasteful and easy to read, you can’t argue with the oversized rectangular cut-outs and characteristic Lange typography. Here you can see it in the Lange 1 Moon Phase that was released back in 2016 with its new caliber L121.3 movement. It’s not restricted to Lange 1 models, however, showing up in the cult-classic Datographtoo.
H. Moser Endeavour Perpetual Calendar
The Endeavor Perpetual Calendar is in many ways the centerpiece of H. Moser’s collection. The classically-styled watch doesn’t look nearly as complicated as it is. The month is indicated by the tiny arrow-shaped hand at the center, and there’s no day of the week indicator at all. The oversized date window is one of the more deceptively complex parts of the watch though. The large type makes it highly legible at a quick glance, the edges of the aperture are nicely finished to blend with the rest of the dial (and effect that is amplified by the close color matching of the dial and disc), and it jumps instantaneously at midnight in a fraction of a second. You can read more about the Endeavor Perpetual Calendar here.
Ochs und Junior Perpetual Calendar
Ochs und Junior is not your average watch brand and their Perpetual Calendar is no different. I have always been drawn to their unusual designs and in particular I really appreciate their non-traditional approach to displaying the date. On the Perpetual Calendar (and all of Ochs und Junior’s other date-equipped watches, for that matter), the date is discreetly displayed by a series of holes that circle the dial. A colored marker fills one hole at a time, showing the date. There are no numbers and no single aperture. It takes some getting used to, but becomes easy to read very quickly. This would be a great watch for those who shun the traditional date display but are still looking for the functionality. You can read more about this watch here.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin ‘Jumbo’ Ref. 15202
While I was reluctant to include the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak on this list, it would be incomplete without the legendary watch. The Royal Oak has been sporting adate window since 1972 when the very first A-series left Le Brassus. The thing that is so well-done about the Royal Oak’s date window is how the size and style have remained consistent throughout the years. The Royal Oak Chronograph’s four o’clock placement, the lone aberration, isn’t nearly as stylish or chic. This year’s Extra-Thin ref. 15202 (pictured) also color matched the date wheel to the dial for ultimate discretion, ensuring that your date-hating friends won’t send you to the stocks.
Basically Every Rolex
And, finally, Rolex. King of the Cyclops! Ruler of magnification! The first date window was seen on a Rolex in 1945 when the Datejust was unveiled. It was red, not magnified, and served its purpose perfectly. Fast forward 72 years though and the date window has received many minor improvements along the way, most notably the Cyclops magnifier that makes the date more legible. This year’s new Sea-Dwellerin fact added a Cyclops, but not without a healthy dose of controversy. I get why purists are upset the Sea-Dweller has never featured a Cyclops before but if it’s pure utility you’re after, it’s strictly an improvement.
The main takeaway here is pretty simple. When an afterthought, sure, a date window can ruin an otherwise great watch. But, love them or hate them, a date window adds functionality and, like all other aspects of a watch, can add a great deal when executed with thoughtfulness and creativity.