The Date Window Must Die!

Citizen Limited Edition Tsuno Chrono - new watch alert!

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! 

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day DateAs 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?

Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph with date window

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.

Et voilà! Ignorability FTW!

TAG Heuer Formula 1 with date window

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! 

Seiko Watch Prospex LX Antartica Divers Limited Edition

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 . . .

A. Lange & Söhne GRAND LANGE 1 with date window

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. 

Waltham pocket watch on stairs

Meanwhile, the best date window is the one that isn’t there. Know what I mean?

6 thoughts on “The Date Window Must Die!”

  1. 1000% agree. I will go no date everytime if given a choice. And power reserve indicators are a scourge. A growing, spreading scourge. Every last one looks like a #$*%$# fuel gauge. I don’t need a fuel gauge on my watch. Grand Seiko Snowflake – “the dial is perfection” they say. NO IT IS’NT. It’s got a fuel gauge on it. At 8-o-clock FFS. *deep breaths*. Ok. I feel better now. Thank you for the opportunity to vent. Keep up the good work. 🙂

    1. I bought a GS Snowflake thinking I could live with the power reserve indicator. I lived with it all the way home and back.

  2. I like the date window, I use it quite a bit. I think you can put the power reserve on the back of the watch instead of on the dial (like Panerai). How do you like chronographs when you dislike the date window?

  3. I suspect this article is bait. The date window is a godsend for those for whom the date matters. Documents need dating and it is so convenient to just have the date their with a glance at the wrist. The aesthetic concession is more than tolerable as opposed to sitting in a waiting room chair filling out patient forms that need signatures and dates and either putting the pen and paper down, standing up to get the cell phone out, waking it up, then reversing order back to dating the form, OR shouting out to some poor receptionist “Hey, uh, what’s today’s date” like a fool.

    As I’m also hammered by appointment and shipping notifications all the time, it is so convenient to find out when the mentioned date is compared to now without requisite electronic screen shuffling.

    On the aesthetics and symmetry, I always found the date wart to be a 3-D monstrosity, but at least it serves a purpose. I see too many watches with pathetically tiny date windows, usually located at unseemly inboard locations, that seem to be there only to annoy. They are both uncomfortably illegible and a blight on looks. I am biased against contrasting date window frames after seeing the nearly seamless, matching integration of the day and date on the dial of the Timex Easy Reader. I’m torn on the angled ~4 o’clock positioned date windows. They blend in so well, but the number is off the level. It always seems like it fell over to me.

    The odd thing here is that the author is left handed, so a date window on the right side, for quick viewing by the majority, is largely out of his sight whenever in long sleeves.

  4. Heck, these days, I often realize my watch has wound down only after I return home from a(n infrequent) drive, and it’s reading incorrect time— I don’t use a winder. The normal reflex is to glance at my phone for the time.

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