Omega consteallation watches with cream dial steel hands and case and day date windows at 3 o'clock position
Edward Howkins, Jan 1 2020

A Brief Overview of Day-Date Watches

A Brief Overview of Day-Date Watches

Have you ever lost track of what day of the week it is, or what date it is? It’s very easy to lose track of the day and date during the last two weeks of December. Luckily, watchmakers have a solution for you – the Day-Date.

The Watch Collectors' Club Blog will give you easy to understand guides to each of the additional functions that watches have. The first was on Chronographs, or stopwatches. This blog is the second in the series and will be a brief overview of two functions that combine to make a really useful tool, a Day-Date watch.  

What is a day-date watch?

Simply, a watch that displays the time, the date of the month and the day of the week. The most common way for the day and date to be displayed is through little windows on the watch face. Another common display type is the use of pointers (another set of hands) that point to date and day painted on the dial.

History of the Day Date

Calendar functions, such as the date and the day of the week, have been used on pocket watches since the late 19th Century. The first record of a day and date function being used on a wristwatch was a patent by the Swiss Watchmaker A. Hammerly in 1915. Shortly after this patent, lots of Swiss brands started to add day and date functions to their watches. However, these “day-date” wristwatches were quite different to what you would purchase now. You had to manually adjust the date and day indicator at the start of each new day.

Rolex claims that it was the first watch manufacture to introduce a self-changing date, with the introduction of the Datejust in 1945. This functionality was combined with a self-changing day indicator in the Rolex Day-Date, which was released in 1956.

The day-date is a very popular type of watch, and many brands now sell them. The Rolex Day-Date remains the most recognisable, and probably the most popular.

Rolex Day-Date

Rolex Day-Date

How Day-Date Watches Work

A date and day window are relatively simple additions to a watch movement.

There are two ways that the function is added to a watch – by dials or by wheels (gears).

If you can see a single day and date that is shown through a little window, then there are two small disks that sit underneath the watch dial, on top of the movement. They move one position every 24 hours, changing nearly instantly at midnight.

If the date and date are static and there is a little hand that rotates to point at the correct day and date, then there are additional wheels in the movement that turn once every day, and adjust the day and the date pointers. 

The date will always count to 31. In the months with fewer days, the wearer will need to manually adjust the date themselves. You can follow our guide on how to use your watch crown. A date-date watch might also have a little button on the side to allow the wearer to adjust either the day or the date.

Calendar watches are a more sophisticated version of the day date, with mechanisms included to ensure the date displayed is correct without requiring adjustment. You can find out more in our guide to Annual Calendars and Perpetual Calendars.

Breitling Premier Day-Date

Breitling Premier Day-Date

Why You Should Consider Buying a Day-Date Watch

The day-date is a really useful function for a watch to have. It turns your watch into a mini-calendar, and provides you instantly with the answer to the question: “What day is it today?”

It is an elegant function, and watches with this functionality are often great for smart casual wear. The date is shown in either a small window or sub-dial, or around the outside of the dial. The day is typically shown in a small box near the 12-o'clock marker or on a small sub-dial. Watch dial design can be very simple as well as very complex, but date and day watches offer a simple classy and elegant option.

Many brands offer the day functions in different languages, which makes them very interesting for collectors. See the picture below for a Spanish day watch.

Omega Constellation Day-Date

Omega Constellation Day-Date

The Watch Collectors' Club is here to help you explore all kinds of watch, and love the many calendar watches that are available, including day-date watches. They provide a really useful function and are typically stylish watches that can be worn for all sorts of occasions. We at The Watch Collectors’ Club do not think there is a best day-date watch, as there is a huge range available and everyone has different taste and budgets. We erun monthly events where you can see many watches, including day dates. All the details can be found on our Watch Meetups and Events page. You can also keep an eye on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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