Amongst the ridiculous things we watch people obsess over, oftentimes I think of whether or not a watch should have a date. There are reasons for and against this and some of these reasons are purely personal and other practical. So I thought it would be fun to discuss the pros and cons of having a date functionality on a watch and what my personal preference is. So let’s dig in!
Why A Date?
Perhaps the only reason for having a date is practicality. No, we don’t need a watch to tell time or know what day it is, but it’s darn practical to be able to read the time and date at a glance without having to pull out my smartphone. So, it’s convenient but it is also practical because it saves me a few precious seconds each time I want to know what date it is. Especially at work or filling out forms at a Governmental office where I need to sign and date the document. Oftentimes, phones are not allowed in official buildings!
As someone who dives, it’s practical to know what date it is when filling out the dive log book at the end of the day. Because although I have a phone with me, it’s not always easily accessible. It might be tucked away in a dry sac or even worse, in my backpack. Just like knowing what date it is when traveling is also useful to make sure not to miss a plane or to check in at the hotel on the right day. I know, I can check my phone but seeing the date on my watch holds a different meaning.
But as you can see, having a date is very practical, at least to me.
I’m the type of guy who prefers to keep track of time looking at my watch instead of a phone or computer. That’s who I am and that’s one aspect of horology that attracts me the most. So it’s nice for me to be able to know what date it is by glancing at my watch instead of pulling out my giant smartphone or checking my computer screen. Talking about practicality: it’s also more respectful to check the time and date on a watch than checking your phone when speaking to someone or being at the office. But that ’s perhaps just me.
As you’ve noticed, all the pros for having a date on a watch have to do with functionality and practicality. I do have certain requirements on how to integrate the date window on a dial but that’s for another article.
Most of the cons of having a date on a dial have to do with design. The biggest criticism I hear coming from friends who are into watches is that the date window—regardless of where it’s placed on the dial—“destroys” the symmetry of the watch. It does disrupt the symmetry but to the point of saying it “destroys it?” I think that’s taking things a little too far, however I do understand where people are coming from. Obviously, people who are against dates on a watch do not have a need for it and I would speculate that these people collect watches not because they are practical, but because they look good. (I know, another topic for an article.)
Brands, however, have become better at hiding the date apertures or integrating them within the design of the dial. For example, putting the date at the 4:30 position and matching the color of the date wheel with the color of the dial. Or, beautifully framing the date aperture to match the design of the hour markers. There are ways to integrate the date aperture on a dial but if one is absolutely against it, then that’s how it goes. So, not having a date does guarantee symmetry which is something very important to some.
In other rarer cases, I also found out that people do not like date windows because they don’t need or want to be reminded of what day it is. Those who think this way are more of the type to be in “the moment” rather than rushing through life, and to them the only important piece of information they must know is what time it is. After all, for centuries watches did not have date apertures so I can understand where these people come from.
As you might have guessed, I am a date guy. I find having a date function very useful, especially for someone who has a tendency to forget what day of the month it is. I like having a date because it allows me to know where in the month I am, or how far or close to an event I am, or to count the days before my next vacation or to know when one of my favorite brands will release its new collection. To me, having a date makes a watch more useful, just like having a dive-time bezel which I can use to time many types of events. With that said, I do see why other people prefer not to have a date window in order to have a more symmetrical looking timepiece.Featured image: @mainspring.watch