The big date: striking date complication watches

EDGAR celebrates one of the more simple, yet striking complications: the Big Date.

Matthew Priest April 20, 2015

Timepiece complications can be, just that, complicated. However, some of the most striking are often the simplest, and nowhere is this truer than with the date complication.

Here are five flawless examples:

Chopard – LUC Lunar Big Date
Undeniably masculine, the Lunar Big Date from Chopard’s impeccably elegant LUC collection is one of our very favourite timepieces. As you would expect from a collection that boasts the initials of the watchmaker and founded Louis-Ulysse Chopard, every detail about this piece is painstaking pored over – from the 18-carat white gold case, to the moon-phase complication (so accurate that it will only be wrong once every 122 years), to the Roman numeral markers.

As stunning as the moon-phase is, the most appealing aspect is the timepiece’s Big Date window. Big and bold, the two-disc date window is easily legible, and the COSC-certified self-winding L.U.C Calibre 96.20-L movement – visible through the exhibition case-back – puts it near the top of our list. 

A. Lange & Söhne – Lange 1
The fact that A. Lange & Söhne is one of the most respected brands in watchmaking despite only forming in 1994 speaks volumes for the German horologists. The Lange 1 was the brand’s first timepiece and upon its launch it would set the bar for a new type of aesthetic in the haute-horology market.

While the 38.5mm casing houses a 72-hour power reserve and a movement built of German silver, the real beauty of the Lange 1 is in the design of its dial. The off-centre main dial and subsidiary seconds dial are carefully made so as to not overlap, while the off-centre, Lange-patented oversized date is a quintessential Lange trademark. The brand took inspiration from the Five-Minute Clock of the Semper Opera House in Dresden. A truly striking piece. 

Blancpain – L-Evolution R chronograph Flyback Grande Date
Known for producing some truly beautiful and elegant timepieces, Blancpain could not have gone in a more different direction with its L-Evolution collection. The dynamic and avant-garde designs of the models distinguish them by combining innovative movements and cutting-edge technology – particularly the carbon-fibre casing and calibres equipped with three series-coupled barrels ensuring an eight-day power reserve and guaranteeing a constant supply of energy to the movement.

Unlike most models, the Big Date function on the L-Evolution is located at the bottom of the dial and contains contemporary digital numerals that are a nod to the world of motorsport. A logical direction for such a progressive collection. 

Girard Perregaux – Vintage 1945 Grande Date
Named after the year it was first created, the Vintage 1945 has more than a few notable nods to its namesake. Designed in an Art Deco style, the curved rectangular case creates a sleek look and feel. The large jumping date movement (under the 12 o’clock) is displayed in a single window, but what is hard to believe is that the movement is actually made up of two adjacent spinning discs – a patented mechanism for Girard Perregaux – which change within five milliseconds.

Contrary to usual practices, one of the two discs is transparent with the numerals inscribed on its back making the appearance of the numbers as side by side, but without any line of demarcation. The Vintage 1945 Large Date, comes with a moon-phases complication and is available in either pink gold or stainless steel. 

Glashuette – Senator Chronograph Panorama Date
At last year’s Baselworld Glashuette Original debuted its Senator Chronograph Panorama Date watch. The handsome timepiece oozes elegance with its Roman numerals, blue hour and minute hands and subtle Big Date window, or Panorama Date, as the company refers to it. The date display is different from the brand’s other collections as it sits in the lower half of the dial above the 6 o’clock, where the date is normally at the 2 or 3 o’clock position.

What separates the Big Date display on this timepiece from others is that both of its disks are on the same plane. The date window therefore needs no middle bar to conceal the fact that one digit is more deeply recessed than the other, leaving a sleek display. The date takes about 30 minutes to switch and ends almost exactly at midnight.