Not too long back, during a watch cocktail event, one collector lamented about small date displays on watches. The combination of his deteriorating eyesight, as well as a minuscule date indicator, had stopped him from purchasing new watches that comes with a date function. Well, this is not exactly a new problem – even a young chap like the author have this problem at times too.
This problem have plagued quite a number of collectors, especially those who suffer from Hyperopia (also known as long-sightedness). This means that near objects are usually out of focus, making reading the date a challenge.
Much of this problem is resolved with a larger date display. It is also known as the “Big Date”, or what Lange, who showed one of the earlier examples in 1994, calls the “Outsized Date”. The complication is similar, except the fact that the date indicator features a large aperture, and the numerals can therefore be larger. Some of the watch manufacturers also split the date disc into two, due to the space constraint within the movement. Some have both discs on the same plane, others at two different levels.
So, on that note, we have decided to do a recommendation article on Big Date watches. What are some of the watches that we have recommended? Let’s find out!
Glashütte Original Senator Chronograph Panorama Date
First up, we have the new Glashütte Original Senator Chronograph Panorama Date, from this year’s Baselworld.
This 42mm watch is Glashütte Original’s take on a sporty and versatile timepiece, which is a tad different from their usual collection. What is particularly interesting is in its design. The Senator is rather sporty when it is mounted on a rubber strap, which is accentuated by the case dimension and the contrasting light blue indices on the dial. On the other hand, when it is fitted with a leather strap, the timepiece suddenly takes on an alter ego, with a slightly refined and elegant look.
Driven by Glashütte Original’s Calibre 37-01, the in-house column-wheel movement was first debuted in 2014. Some of the features include a flyback chronograph function, a big date indicator, and a power reserve display. It also has an respectable power reserve of around 70 hours, and the finishing is excellent. Retailing at US$14,600 (approximately S$19,700), we’d say that the Senator Chronograph Panorama Date definitely gives its competitors a run for their money.
Ulysse Nardin Classic Perpetual Ludwig
When Ulysse Nardin launched the original Perpetual Ludwig in 1996, it was considered as a technological marvel. Not only does Ulysse Nardin allows the various indicators to be adjusted by a single crown, but what makes the watch even more special is the fact that all the indicators can be adjusted bidirectionally. That was certainly revolutionary back in those days.
Recently, Ulysse Nardin had produced an updated version of the original Perpetual Ludwig. The new watch – named Classic Perpetual Ludwig – is largely based on the original model that debuted more than two decades back. It features the same mechanism, with the same dial layout. However, there are some differences too, such as a larger case size (an increase of 2.5mm to 41mm) and a slight update to the dial design.
The timepiece is powered by the Caliber UN-33, based on the ETA 2892. The finishing is rather nice, especially with the winding rotor that features the anchor emblem that is surrounded by blue enamel. Overall, we feel that this is well-made and elegant timepiece. The price tag of the stainless steel variant is S$30,500, and we think that it offers great value for a such a significant and well-made timepiece.
A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Moonphase
On the note of big date displays, A. Lange & Söhne is certainly one of the brands that will immediately come to mind. They are probably one of the few watch manufacturers that had incorporated this complication into most of their watches, and had popularised it tremendously over the years.
What we particularly like about A. Lange & Söhne and its big date display is how they have managed to seamlessly assimilate it into the design of the timepiece. Besides the legendary Lange 1 and the Datograph, we feel that the Saxonia Moonphase is another watch from their repertoire that captures this point perfectly. The Saxonia Moonphase, in our opinion, is an example of a perfectly symmetrical timepiece. The nicely-centred date display and moonphase indicator balances the look of the dial, and we were especially amazed by how the big date aperture did not stick out like a sore thumb. It is definitely a stunning watch.
Powered by Lange’s Calibre L086.5, the self-winding Saxonia Moonphase boasts a decent power reserve of around 72 hours. The finishing, as per the usual, is sublime. It also features a highly accurate moonphase display, which is said to require a correction once after every 122.6 years.
The watch is retails at €28,500 (approximately S$45,670).
IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month
The flagship Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month is one of the latest addition to the new IWC Ingenieur line-up, which is touted as the largest, heaviest, and most expensive timepiece in the current collection to date.
The new Ingenieur collection from IWC goes back to its original design – which features a rounded and less aggressive design. This is unlike the last few generations of the Ingenieur, in which it features a sporty angular case, inspired by Gerald Genta’s design back in 1976. The highlight of the collection is of course the flagship model – which features both the perpetual calendar and the flyback chronograph function. What is also interesting about this piece is the digital display – which adds a cool touch to this complicated timepiece. While we understand that the digital display is not something that is particularly new, but nonetheless, the novelty factor is pretty much still there for us.
The 45mm red gold watch is fitted with IWC’s Calibre IWC 89800. One of the reasons for the watch’s thickness is due to the perpetual calendar module, as well as the stacked wheel design. It also features the signature Pellaton pawl-winding system, and it has a decent power reserve of 68 hours. Finishing is decent, although it is definitely not exceptional. However, with a price tag of CHF 49,500 (approximately S$68,570), the watch offers collectors an excellent price proposition as compared to its competitors within the same realm.
H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Perpetual Calendar
The hallmark of any H. Moser & Cie timepiece is simple: clean, functional, and quality. The Endeavour Perpetual Calendar probably encapsulates all these values. After all, it is a perpetual calendar watch, and probably one of the simplest looking one as well.
What we particularly like about this watch is how the manufacturer had managed to combine form and functionality into a highly legible timepiece. For those who do not know about this piece, it will be difficult to believe that it actually features the perpetual calendar complication. That is not a surprise, considering that many perpetual calendars are highly complicated in its aesthetics, and watchmakers usually cram a plethora of indicators on the watch dial itself. But H. Moser & Cie took a totally unconventional approach, by making it as uncluttered and minimalist as possible. The end result is simply phenomenal.
Together with the big date display, the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar is pretty much the perfect piece for someone who wants a legible timepiece. On top of that, the finishing of the watch is excellent too. And don’t even get us started on the blue fumé dial. The 40.8mm watch is priced at S$83,790 for the white gold version, and we reckon it might be something interesting for collectors to consider.
Greubel Forsey Quantième Perpétuel à Équation
Finally, we have the Greubel Forsey Quantième Perpétuel à Équation.
Greubel Forsey is often considered by many as the crème de la crème of horology, with outrageous pieces that are exceptional in terms of its execution – be it in the technical bits, or the finishing of the watch. The Quantième Perpétuel à Équation, also known as the Computeur Mécanique, is one of such creations from the atelier.
As the name suggests, the watch is in fact a mechanical computer. Its features are aplenty, which includes an inclined tourbillion, perpetual calendar, power reserve display, and a 24 hour display. In addition, the watch can also indicate the seasons, the equinoxes, the solstices, and the equation of time. What is even more remarkable is that all the indicators are coordinated by the central mechanical computer – which is fitted with numerous individual discs that are stacked co-axially atop each other.
Priced at S$1,075,350, the white gold Quantième Perpétuel à Équation is one of the most expensive Greubel Forsey watches to date. However, this is an extremely remarkable timepiece, and we do not need emphasis on the level of finishing lavished on the watch. The price is seemingly out of reach for most of us, but if you do have the opportunity to get your hands on this, we would highly recommend the addition of this superlative piece into your watch collection.
In this week’s article, we have selected six watches with the big date display. All of them are at least five-figures in their price tag – which is not really a coincidence. This is because there are not many outsourced movements that comes with the big date function, and hence it is not prevalent for watches at the entry-level price range. However, we still do see some entry-level watches with this complication in the market occasionally, with brands such as Breitling and Bell & Ross coming to mind.
Interestingly, four out of six watches in today’s selections are perpetual calendars. One of the typical feedback from customers is that the various apertures on the perpetual calendars are too small, and it is understandably so because watch manufacturers have to include a multitude of indicators on the dial itself. Hence, it is refreshing to see how the brands have tweaked the design of such watches, and moving away from the standard layout. The Moser Endeavour Perpetual Calendar is hence one of our favourites, with its unusual minimalist approach.
So, what are some of the timepieces with big date display that you have owned, and what are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comments section below!