Coronageddon destroyed my concept of time. My social life and entertainment options – movies, live music, plays, restaurants, museums, art galleries, indoor skydiving, pinball arcades, track days, etc. – are gone. Where I once needed to know the date for a quick schedule check, one day now bleeds into the next. Wait. It’s Thursday? You know where this is going, date window wise . . .
I need a day complication on my watch like a Naval officer needs a sextant on an aircraft carrier. With the adoption of the smartphone and smartwatch – both of which keep your schedule with timely reminders, relevant info and directions – the date window was already on its way out. Now it’s nothing more or less than decoration.
Wait! Decoration’s a good thing, right? As our man AJ pointed out, watches are now jewelry. The date window ties us to horology’s evolution, its noble past. Why do we still have it? As Tevye explained when defending Jewish orthodox practice (e.g., burying a fork for four days if you drop it on the ground), tradition!
As my father used to say, tradition, shmadition. Date windows are a finger in the eye of my number one watch-buying consideration: symmetry (followed by minimalism, class, accuracy and other stuff). Exhibit A: the Rolex date wart. There it is. There it isn’t. Guess which one I own.
Yes, yes: Rolex sells what people buy. It’s all well and good to call a date window an annoyance or, indeed, an abomination, but watchmakers have a higher calling than aesthetics: sales. People buy watches with date windows. Next?
Next up are watches like the recently reviewed Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph that tuck date windows between the four and five indices.
In this case – as in many non-chronos with the date window in its traditional place at the 3 o’clock – Norqain makes the best of a bad situation. They leave out a window frame, make the window’s background the same color as the dial and keep it small.
Watchmakers go to considerable lengths to not let the date window screw-up their dials. The TAG Heuer Formula 1 gets mega-props for making the date look like an indice. Clever!
Then there are watchmakers who don’t give a damn, really. The Seiko Prospex LX Antartica Divers Limited Edition above features a date window that’s more or less the same size of the other indices, that calls attention to itself with contrasting colors and a window frame.
There’s a lot of that style going ’round in the name of legibility – it’s pretty much the de facto standard for the DW genre. Don’t get me started on power reserve indicators . . .
Other watchmakers have decided to make a bug into a feature. As I said (more or less), a watch needs a date window like a tank needs a kick stand. But if I have to have a date window, it’s go big or go without.
I’ll have this one please. The white gold A. Lange & Söhne GRAND LANGE 1 gets it right – golden ratio and all. The second I find a spare $50k I’m all over it. Last year’s Watch of the Year – the Odysseus – was also more than merely tolerable in the DW size and placement thing.
Meanwhile, the best date window is the one that isn’t there. Know what I mean?