#TBT Medana Special Calendar With A Rotating Crystal And Never-Before-Seen Day/Date Control
This might be the #TBT discovery of the year, featuring a surprising, witty, amusing, and even slightly naive watch. I am not hesitant to say that the watch you are looking at is one of the rarest of the rare. Meet the Medana Special Calendar with a day/date display and setup like none I’ve ever seen.
I don’t think much about what else could be out there for me to discover in the realm of vintage watches. On one hand, I don’t rule out the possibility that there are still many never-discussed old technical concepts. On the other, with tons of examples studied over the last five years, it’s extremely difficult to discover a watch with a complication or case construction that I’ve never heard of. It’s even harder to find a vintage watch with a mechanism that I can’t trace any record of.
I could not believe it when I saw this watch for the first time. The minute track is pushed towards the center to make some room for an unusual outer track printed in blue. It consists of seven sets of five numbers. Before I managed to find some sense in the order of them, I spotted seven weekdays printed in bright red. I instantly put it all together and realized that I was looking at a unique day/date display.
Wait, wait, wait!
In that exact millisecond, my eyes started to race over the dial in slight confusion. “Where the hell is the date pointer?!” Well, there is none, and I am pretty sure there never was. Okay, I took a few deep breaths so as not to kill myself from all that excitement. The next second, I started to inspect the case for an additional crown, pin, or some other controller that would allow the owner to align the blue date track with the weekday disc.
It isn’t on a disc; it’s on the crystal!
Then I realized that the weekdays were sitting higher than the date track. In fact, there weren’t any concentric discs at all! “Okay, there has to be just one explanation.” The names of the weekdays are printed directly on the crystal, which would also explain the shadows they cast on the dial. Well, that would mean that the only way you can change the weekday is to rotate the entire crystal. If you find this as hilarious as I do, you’ll want to also check out my Basis Alarm watch, which controls the mechanical alarm similarly.
Useless? Big time
At this point, you’ve probably already realized how ridiculous it is to have a watch that allows you to match the date with the correct day of the week but cannot specify the exact date. If you ask me, I find it naively silly. But I give it a 15 out of 10 for effort and the creative and fairly romantic “solution” to this showing this complication. It’s useless but also fascinating, big time.
The Medana Special Calendar brought back memories of my archive article about the top 5 watches with unusual magnifiers. Not so long ago, I stated that I would not want to face the challenge of sourcing a replacement Plexiglass crystal with a unique arch loupe for an Angelus Medical. No matter how impossible the task seems, with dozens of examples of the Angelus Medical out there, it is still probably more “doable” than finding a replacement crystal for this Medana Special Calendar. I have never seen another one like this before — ever!
I admit that reproducing the Medana Special Calendar’s crystal seems way more manageable than doing so for the Angelus Medical. Finding an original example, however, would definitely be harder for the Medana Special Calendar.
Why haven’t we seen another one before?
I don’t know. There weren’t many examples, I guess. Otherwise, we would be able to google some of them based on the very specific “Special Calendar” marking. The fragility of the Plexiglass didn’t help much either. It could break easily, and I can imagine that after an accident happened, a new owner would swap it for a simple crystal. What is most disturbing is the fact that I couldn’t find one single other Medana or non-Medana watch with an outer date track like this.
The flea market is alive
The example I have was found in NOS condition, almost untouched. There is no discoloration on the date track, and there is no damage to the weekday names either. There are no records available, but I’m guessing that the watch comes from the 1950s. It blows my mind that such a specific example survived 70 years without collecting one bruise. And did I mention my friend picked it up at a flea market in Italy close to where he lives? I love that these stories keep coming the moment you stop thinking you can find anything at a flea market today — #persistence and #dedication.
…and finger time. If you want to set the weekday properly, you need to press the crystal in the middle and rotate it slowly with your fingers. It doesn’t move easily, but you don’t need to do ten push-ups to get pumped up. The pressure seems perfectly okay, and you don’t need to worry that you will unintentionally change the weekday setting.
If you count the shiny gold details on the Arabic hour numerals, the dangerously fancy spider lugs, an original crown, and tiny sub-seconds, you get a pretty interesting watch. I know I won’t wear it much, but it will hold a special place in my watch collection. This brings me to another Medana with a tiny date window and running seconds disc, which confirms that Medana made some bold watches almost a hundred years ago.
The greatest recognition
I put the Medana Special Calendar among the most fascinating affordable vintage watch creations, alongside the sophisticated Mido Radiotime, dully simple Sperina Regulator, daring Tourist Everlight, or virtuous Sada Landeron 58.
What’s special about this find is the fact that I didn’t have to do anything to get it. It just landed directly in my Instagram box. The greatest recognition I get is not kudos from other collectors or likes on my posts. What truly moves me is that someone values my work in such a way that when they find an unseen piece, they remember me and give me a heads-up. Thank you, Simone, for finding this unique piece and keeping it for me so that I could share its genuineness with all the Fratelli.