And no it’s not a mistake in your social calendar unless you’re VERY optimistic! It does of course refer to the description of my favorite type of watch, which shows “at a glance” (and that’s important) not only the time, but additionally, the Day, the Date and the Month – and crucially all at the same time. An example of a quartz Triple Date Calendar is the Dugena Moon phase shown here –
For me the Triple Date Calendar function really means I should look at just two types of watch – Quartz Analogue and Mechanical. The true Triple Date Calendar model was of course a term used to describe this complication in mechanical movements, but technical advances mean quartz can now also provide the same function. However regardless of watch type one of the important aspects of triple Date is the dial, because that must be clear enough to allow you to glance at it and quickly determine Triple Date information. Just one glance and you should know not only the Time, but also the Day, the Date and the Month – instantly. However, this is most certainly not always the case and if nothing else the Triple Date function shows up who can or cannot design a watch dial.
The quartz Android Ambassador model as shown above is a most stylish modern model. It doesn’t however use apertures, using sub-dials instead, which I’m pleased to see are a decent size and very clear to read. The sub-dials show the Day and Date, the Month this time being indicated by the center pointer to the outer Month track. In addition and unusually this also indicates the year/week number. The hands may obstruct sometimes, but this is a consequence of analogue hands and these are particularly good, as they are luminescent, which I’ve discovered are in fact surprisingly rare in a Triple date Calendar watch.
Remember what I said about dial design. The two models illustrate this pretty clearly – both may show the same information but the Android is certainly much easier to read. Had the Dugena larger apertures it would have been so much better. I have to hand it to Android though as there are not that many good quartz Triple Date Calendar models around the low £100’s which it is (or was).
The concept of the Triple date is all about information – what do we want to see on our watch? or maybe what do we need to see? The answer for me is a practical one really and Time, Day, Date and Month just about says it all. If I don’t know the year, then maybe I have other issues to worry about and my General Practitioner may be able to help! 😉
Here’s some Triples that I personally like –
An absolute Classic Triple Date Calendar is this Jaeger LeCoultre and this is a vintage one – as I said these are easier to come by than modern, though you will be surprised at the high prices these can command. This is a mechanical movement of course, so the workmanship required to manufacture such a complication is considerable and Jaeger LeCoultre are in a class of their own.
Another rather rare vintage model is the Mercedes Benz Chrono and for me one that I dearly love to own. Mechanical of course with an automatic caliber Valjoux 7751 with a full Calendar (perpetual). Looks like a sub-dial Triple Date until you spot the 2 apertures in the sub-dial @12, a Date pointer center driven, 24hr time, Moon phase etc. and yet totally readable – one of my favorite models.
One of the most iconic Triple Date Calendar watches in my opinion is this classic vintage Movado, which is as good as they come. I actually had two some years ago, but sold one on – (I know I was ill at the time!) and now these are becoming more difficult and more expensive to find.
So what type of watch can be called Triple Date Calendars –
Digital? – No – not strictly Triple Date Calendar of course – but today with the digital revolution, to find a model that displays all this information and almost anything else you want to know is common. Most Digital models do show the 3 basics, such as the low priced Timex AE1200W (shows time, Day, Date, Month in standard view AND features a Perpetual Calendar till the year 2100). Radio Controlled quartz models of course are Perpetual by default. But Digital models in general can be the cheapest option of all if what you want is data overload.
Quartz – Yes – Analogue models are becoming more common now especially from mainstream Brands such as Casio, Seiko and Citizen. But on modern analog models, unlike the classic vintage models must be looked at carefully for good dial design, which is paramount. All too often they seem tempted to display in a “new” way – often with silvered hands and indices, poor layout and poor clarity as a result.
However there are a few decent ones around including the Dugena and the Android already featured. Quartz Ana-Digi may models again have the data, but not always presented simultaneously and a push button selection may have to be made, such as Calendar. More often than not the standard view will feature a 24hr time sub-dial (goodness knows why?) World Time, a selector dial and so on, which for me just adds to the dial clutter. The whole point of Triple Date Calendar dials is their readability.
And that is a real bugbear of mine – so many quartz analog models seem to go out of their way to make the dial cluttered and virtually unreadable. And if we’re talking about Triple Date Calendar “at a glance” – then forget it!
Mechanical – Absolutely – When it comes to mechanical Triple Date Calendar watches however, these are not quite so common, and in fact there are more vintage models than modern ones. And this is simply because technology overtook the very skilled and technically difficult process of manufacturing them and offered a cheaper electronic alternative. It’s all about cost and also whether the Brand has the technical skill even to make such a model.
So all that said, foe me the Mechanical Triple Date model is almost the ultimate – almost – except for one small problem. Most models don’t have compensation for the short months. In other words – they don’t have a Perpetual Calendar – So every so often unlike the digital models, you have to reset your Date depending on the month (also on leap years). UNLESS of course you start looking at the very best classic Brands.
As in the case of the Patek Philippe shown above, it also features a Perepetual Mechanical Calendar as well. BUT unfortunately these are really NOT common – no Sir! And if you do see one, you’ll need to make a choice between it and that new car! I think the Patek Philippe models starg at around shown is around $15k to “the sky is the limit” – so not your everyday model.
Here are a few more models I like –
This Eloga model is particularly special and rare, in that it has incorporated a disk with the Date printed. The crown @10 is used to manually align the day against the date and the progressing pointer then reads the Day and date correctly – a wonderfully elegant solution (I’ve also seen a Landau with the same dial system).
Then there is the classic 3 sub-dial configuration of the Blancpain above, one of my favorite Makers and kept just about as simple as possible to aid clarity – I love it.
I think I prefer the aperture display system I suppose owing to age – the older you get sub-dials become tricky to make out, whereas windows with words within them are certainly easier – if large enough of course. And this year I hope to get myself 2 Triple Date Calendar watches – or that’s my aim anyway – as I believe these are the most wonderfully artistic of all the models out there, especially if mechanical and include the Moon phase as well. And of course they tell you what you really want to know – “at a glance”