What's Ticking

The Great Date Debate

Published on Jan 23, 2018

Quartz or mechanical? In-house or off the shelf? Rolex or Omega? While everyone has their opinions about the aforementioned, nothing is more polarizing or hotly contested as date windows. The topic of date windows on a watch has been debated for years, but Rolex’s 50th-anniversary redesign of the Sea-Dweller sparked outrage, joy, and a firestorm of comments from everyone when it was debuted last year. Though many articles and observations have been made about the beautiful date function of a Lange 1 or the “swing and a miss” of the Tribute to the Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC, no watch is more squarely in the crosshairs of the date window debate than the Rolex Submariner. Since Rolex offers both the 116610 “Date” and the 114060 “No Date,” this isn’t some theoretical what if discussion.

Most people fall into one of two camps, “it’s the second most important complication behind telling time,” and “it completely ruins the aesthetics of dial.” Both have their merits, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked down at my wrist to grab the date at a quick glance. Despite the digital age we live in, with phones sitting in our pocket that can tell the time and date, the ability to quickly glance down at my watch and tell the date is immensely helpful. A common argument against date windows are “how often do you use your watch to tell the date?” and I see the validity of the question. The most prominent counterpoint is you don’t even realize how often you are using it–until it’s not there.

But what about the aesthetics camp? As a student of design, I can’t argue with the fact that the 114060 is more symmetrical. A common arguing point for the aesthetic camp is the fact that the original Submariner lacked a date function, as it was a simple tool watch which didn’t need the additional date complication. The lack of a date function at 3 o’clock is replaced with another lumed baton, just as the original Submariner references were configured. But uniquely, Rolex’s addition of the cyclops on their watches, starting with the Datejust in 1954, has made the cyclops a hallmark of Rolex and the Submariner.

So where do I fall? Well, I don’t own a Submariner (yet), but if I did, I’d have to go with the 116610 “Date.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve instinctively looked down at my Speedy to grab the date, only to have to pull out my phone to eventually figure it out. Despite the 114060’s beautiful symmetry and historical “correctness,” to me, the 116610 is the more iconic Subby. Where do you land on the debate? Are you a Date or No Date fan, leave your opinions in the comments below.

Author Bryan Braddy
Training consultant by day, horophile by night; Bryan has been obsessing over watches since he was gifted his first watch back when he was a child. Bryan’s passion for watches is fueled by the stories told through the battle scars in a case and the faded aluminum of a bezel.

Comments

I agree with the date being the second most important complication. Dating papers, checks, or else is seemless with a date complication. Our mind is busy loading all the resorts of information. A watch is once more a useful tool thanks to this ability to remind you the date. For an everyday timepiece, it undeniably makes sense and to me, surpasses the design argument. In the context of a more dressy piece, I totally get it: balance is better and the watch is elegant without a date window breaking the symmetry even more than the crown already does.
Salutations,
JRB

I do like and own both date, date date and time only watches. I have never been a fan of the Cyclops. The no date sub, just beautiful! I have been told that if the crystal is domed inside and outside this would alleviate the need for a cyclops.

Personally for me, I would take the symmetry of a clean dial and no date each and every time. As the author says there are others ways of getting a glance of the date by other means. I have never looked down at my speedy or black day and wished I went for a date window, Other colour dials perhaps, but not a date. Great article.

What I don’t get is making the date window tiny, moving it inboard, and leaving the hour marker or numeral in place. (Like most current Timex calendar watches.) That seems wrong.