#TBT: Little big date watch Angelus Dato 12
The charm of Angelus extends beyond big diameter chronographs with the Angelus Dato 12.
Angelus “Must Haves” for Collectors
If you’re serious about collecting vintage chronographs, Angelus has some serious candidates to consider, but today we will discuss the Angelus Dato 12. Regarding the chronographs, though, notable examples include the Angelus L.E. chosen by the Hungarian Air Force or the Angelus Chronodato introduced in 1942 as the world’s first chronograph with a full calendar (day-date and month). The title‚ “world’s first” always helps, and the model quickly became popular. Balazs did a marvelous job covering the Chronodato and the whole 21x Angelus movement family. If you missed it, you could find the articles here, here or here.
Angelus Holy Trinity Vol. 2
If you’re lucky (or determined) enough and manage to hunt down decent examples of all the 21x movement models, we might have another challenge for you. The Angelus DATO family that features variations of caliber 25x that have one feature in common – a pair of apertures under the 12 showing a digital date and day. The holy grail of the trio is the Chrono-Datoluxe with a 252 caliber, the world’s first series chronograph featuring a digital date display. You will sooner find Fidel Castro’s lost Rolex GMT-Master than a perfect Chrono-Datoluxe. Anyway – NO SHOT, NO GOAL.
Spotlight on the Angelus Dato 12
Coming back to the Angelus 25x family. Besides the holy Chrono-Datoluxe grail Angelus also made non-chronograph calendar models sharing the same digital date display. The Datoluxe with cal. 256 came with a moon-phase and today’s piece, the Angelus Dato 12 with a 255 caliber came without one. One remark here: saying ‚without moonphase ‘makes the Dato 12 sound like it is missing something, but the opposite is true. For those of us who like date watches with a clean design, this is one hell of a hidden gem that never gets as much attention as its bigger brothers. And it has a lot of bigger brothers.
In my daily drill full of long repetitive meetings, I find glimpsing down at a dial featuring the 37th day of the month a reminder to always think out of the box.
Understanding the Date Mechanism
The date experience is very similar to the Big Date Bucherer chronograph with a 211 Venus caliber we reviewed. In the Bucherer there was only one aperture, and the date was produced by two discs rotating against each other. The date on the Angelus Dato 12 very similarly consists of two Arabic numerals, each one on a separate disc. But as you can see on a movement comparison drawing, the discs on the Angelus Dato 12 are concentric. It means that the final date is much smaller, but creates space for another disc that displays the day of the week.
There is one detail that makes both the Venus cal. 211 (other family members includes the Venus 216 and Venus 221) and Angelus cal. 255 undoubtedly irreplaceable. Every time the date hits the last day of the month and you expect it to roll over back to 01, you will encounter an unexpected surprise. Instead of the first day of the month you’re confronted with a 32, 33… or any number up to 39 and then a 00 smiling at you from the dial. I am not aware of any other caliber with such a precious flaw. I grew so fond of that experience that I became addicted to it. When the month is about to change I always reach for either the Bucherer or this Angelus Dato 12 to make the month last a little longer.
Philosophical or Horological Wonder?
Some of you might shake your head in disbelief when seeing me praising a seemingly malfunctioning workaround or half-way solution for the date changing problem. Correct. But in my daily drill full of long repetitive meetings, I find glimpsing down at a dial featuring the 37th day of the month a reminder always to think out of the box. To break boundaries, to surprise, to act in unexpected ways. For me, the Angelus Dato 12 embodies an age-old truth – never underestimate. You look at the watch, and you could write it off as being BORING. But just like with people, there is always a moment we can surprise ourselves or the people around us. This is what the Angelus Dato 12 is all about for me.
Buying the Angelus Dato 12
I found my Angelus Dato 12 with a British dealer that I was in touch with regarding another watch of his, an Enicar with a Valjoux 72 if I remember correctly. His name was Scott, and in our conversation, he just casually mentioned that he brought something in from a trip to Hannover. When he showed it to me, it immediately caught my eye as I was already looking for one just like it.
Thoughts on the Dial and Hands
Before I finally confirmed my purchase, I got in touch with expert Joel Pynson as I was not sure about the authenticity of the spade hands on this Angelus Dato 12. Having an experienced Angelus collector and author taking a look at my watch, I took advantage of the situation and also asked for a 2nd opinion on the dial. “The case is fine, and the dial seems fine. I’m not sure about the hands, so I sent an e-mail to a friend to get his opinion.”
Mr. Pynson got back to me after some time confirming that both he and his friend agree that the dial looks original, but they both can’t confirm the hands. The truth is I have never seen such a combination with the Angelus Dato 12. At the same time, it is important to note that the color of the hands fits the markers. Also, the length of the minute and second hand seem to precisely match the minute track of the dial. If you might have any illuminating information or references on the matter, feel free to share.
The only Reason to Cry
While it is not visible at certain angles, it is there. A problem. You can see two deep scratches between the 12 and 1. It seems to me that the watchmaker held the dial too firmly in his pliers. This would usually be a no go for many collectors and I too would not consider a with a dial in such condition under standard circumstances, but this Angelus Dato 12 with 35 mm in diameter cast a special spell on me. Whether the dial is damaged or not, seeing such a terrible scar makes us all super aware of the cruel reality. There are so many butchers between watchmakers that sometimes you just want to cry. So sipping on a glass of Weninger’s Welschriesling while writing these lines, I toast to all the amazing watchmakers that take care of our vintage pieces with patience, love, the highest care and sense of responsibility.
If you read my articles, you already know I like to question stereotypes and disrupt the routine. My watch collection is nothing if not quirky. This is the reason why I love another little detail about this Angelus. Typically, the Angelus logo sits on the top of the dial. This time, the premium position is occupied with a funky day / date display, meaning the Angelus branding was moved above the six. The Angelus Dato 12 font selection is in line with other Angelus models and even for me as a hater of such typography – I do like it here. It contrasts perfectly with the simply styled Roman numerals. I am not very fond of the decorated lugs though as they make me feel older than the watch itself.
Daily Wear and Final Thoughts
Time is very easy to read on the Dato 12 and the same can be said for the date reading, despite the fact that the window isn’t huge. The fact that there are no other distracting elements on the dial make that possible. The day and date can be set easily with two buttons on the left side of the case. Each change comes with a satisfying click and precise turn of the rotating disc. Accompanied on a quality strap fitting the slightly salmon-ish tone of the dial, the Angelus Dato 12 is a unique partner to accompany you on a chilled out day. To turn this idea into reality, get ready to lose anything ranging from 800 to 1500 euros.