Blog: The Date Window
Date: 16 August 2019Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2019 all rights reserved.
I make additions and corrections to this web site frequently, but because they are buried somewhere on one of the pages the changes are not very noticeable, so I decided to create this blog section to highlight new material. Here below you will find part of one of the pages that I have either changed or added to significantly.
The section below is from my page about Dials and Hands.
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me via my Contact Me page.
The Date Window
Who invented the date window, the little window on a watch dial that shows today's date?
I am pretty sure that Rolex would like us to think that it was them. I must have read this somewhere because I used to repeat it, and I wouldn't have made it up. Today the Rolex web site (accessed 15 August 2019) says ‘The year 1945 saw the birth of the Datejust, the first self‑winding wrist chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial.’ This is not quite the same as saying that Rolex invented the date window in 1945, but without the qualification ‘self‑winding wrist chronometer’, which many people would see as just a fancy way of saying wristwatch, it would say that the Datejust was the first watch with a date window.
However, the advertisement from the Watchmaker & Jeweller, Silversmith & Optician for October 1930 clearly shows a wristwatch with a date window; a ‘Marlys Date Watch’ in fact.
In small print the advert says ‘Patents applied for in all principal countries.’
Fabrique d'Horlogerie Marlys S. A. of La Chaux-de-Fonds was granted a Swiss patent for ‘Mécanisme indiquant le quantième du mois pour montres et pendulettes’ or mechanism indicating the date of the month for watches and clocks on 15 December 1931, the priority date being 16 July 1930.
The same device was granted a French patent under the title ‘Mouvement d'horlogerie à quantième’
An application for a British patent under the title ‘Date indicating mechanism for watches and small pendulum clocks’ was also lodged, but this was allowed to become void.
Marlys seem to have been particularly interested in dials. A patent was granted to them in 1928 for ‘Instrument permettant de reconnaître si un tour d'heure est correctement placé sur son cadran’ or an instrument to recognize if a time lapse is correctly placed on the dial. This was a device for checking that dials were laid out and divided correctly. The purpose was for dial makers to be able to see if a dial printing machine was working properly, or by watch manufacturers to check that dials sent to them were free from defects.
Marlys appear to have been an assembler of watches. Movements of Marlys watches are marked ‘FEF’ for Fabrique d'Ébauches de Fleurier.
The British agency for Marly's was taken by Adie Brothers who then traded under the style ‘Adie-Marlys Watch Company’ at Craven House, 121 Kingsway, London.
Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2019 all rights reserved. This page updated August 2019. W3CMVS.