#TBT The ASU Calendar — A Perfect Entry Into Complicated Vintage Watches
This is one of those watches you can’t crave until you spend some time with it. The ASU Calendar with a Pierce movement is not only cute but also functional and pretty addictive.
Whenever I dive deep into the safe and pull out something that many collectors haven’t seen before, you tell me how happy you are that I keep coming up with budget-friendly watches that live far away from the spotlight. So here is another one. This is the ASU Calendar, which I found in Sweden in such a condition that you would be afraid to touch it. As you can see in the picture below, the (probably) original strap was covered with wall paint and what looked like plaster residue. I guess someone found it during a remodeling project.
On the other hand, although they’re often so gross, finds like these are the ones we get the most excited about. An original strap crumbling under our fingers suggests we might have a fully original and often perfectly preserved piece. The case was sharp, the lume was nice and thick, and the dial was untouched. I decided to go for it, and I couldn’t have done any better!
This specific triple-calendar watch design is nothing unusual. If you’ve collected watches for long enough, you have seen tons of them, branded everything from Eloga to Zodiac. With a 34mm diameter, they are considered rather small, and they are anything but rare. Actually, they are so boringly usual that you don’t even bother to check them. Why would you, right?
If it weren’t for that auction some three years ago, I wouldn’t have had a single thought about it either. I was not on a hunt for a triple-calendar watch, but I thought that the pictures triggered my attraction. After a few days on my wrist, though, I know that there is way more to it than that, and I see what subconsciously got right under my skin. For example, look at the perfect lume dots instead of odd hour numbers. Strolling down memory lane and searching for likeability patterns, I realized that’s the detail that attracted me to my Yema Chronograph and Orient Swimmer.
A better look at the dial
Lume dots instead of numbers create an interesting design point and some very pleasing space to breathe. If you realize that there’s both a minute track and peripheral date track behind the lume dots, you will find it hard to believe that the case is only 34.5mm wide. It really gives you the feeling of a 36–37mm watch. Coming back to the lume again, the application is perfect, whether you check the numbers or dots. To be honest, it’s way better than many vintage chronographs for which we “gladly” pay 20 times more. Yes, if you are lucky enough, you can get an ASU like this in perfect condition for as little as €300.
What is the ASU capable of?
When it comes to functions, this ASU is a pretty elegant watch enriched with a triple calendar (day, month, and date). Under the hour and minute hands, there is an extra hand with a red tip in the shape of a crescent moon. This hand is also the longest because its moon-shaped tip creates a nest for the dates around the edge of the dial. Notice how the dial steeply slopes down around the edge, right behind the minute track. It might not seem like much, but it’s important details like this that give the dial more layers and plasticity.
Below 12 o’clock are a couple of small rectangular windows sitting closely together. The one on the left displays the day of the week, while the one on the right indicates the month. The day and the date jump to the next position automatically every 24 hours. The month, however, has to be advanced manually via the tiny pin nicely integrated into the case at 4 o’clock. It’s not sunken too deep, but it doesn’t stick out either. It sits just about perfectly, like the other two pins that you can use to quickly adjust the day and the date.
Mikrolisk.de reveals that ASU stands for Aktiebolag Svenska Urdepoten. A recent Swedish article on Malmo.se goes deeper and introduces the ASU as a long-established watchmaker who opened its first shop on Amiralsgatan in Malmö in 1930. In a scan of an old Swedish brochure from 1961, I found ASU as an advertiser. It presents itself as Scandinavia’s largest watch company with modern stores in Malmö, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Helsingborg, Trelleborg, Lund, Västerås, and Linköping.
One WatchUSeek forum member mentioned in a thread that ASU sold most of its watches from catalogs and magazines. Just for the fun of it, I tried to find some memorabilia on the local Swedish auction portal, and I got lucky again. For just €10, I bought a set of catalog pages showing the ASU calendar watch. For some, these are useless, but as an old advertising enthusiast, I find them a nice addition to the watch.
Full spa treatment
My ASU went to see my friend’s watchmaker right after it arrived. If I remember correctly, the watch worked, but all the pin pushers were stuck. After it came back with the crystal nicely polished, I could fully appreciate the dial’s clean design and visual harmony. The horizontal silver brushing goes along with a light blue date track, which perfectly matches the aged lume aging with its light yellow tones. The red moon-shaped tip and central seconds hand add just the right amount of sporty spirit.
Last thoughts on the ASU Calendar
This chromed ASU Calendar is not a watch that I would wear for any important occasion. Honestly, though, especially without a single spot of bare metal poking through the shiny chrome, it’s a pretty good-looking watch. When I bought it, I didn’t have high hopes, but I underestimated it. After a few days on my wrist, I must say it is refreshing to have a non-chronograph triple-calendar watch.
Not getting much sleep due to two little kids, I often find myself wondering what day it is. If you spend all day in an office, not shoving your hands into the engine bay of your car, I bet you would be surprised at what a deal the ASU Calendar is. Give it a try. Happy hunting!