The calendar is the most popular watch complication by far, that’s why we decided to review a number of watches with various types of calendars. One of them was the Omega De Ville Hour Vision Annual Calendar, which needs resetting just once per year. For our analysis and results, along with original photos by Nik Schölzel, read on.
On most calendar watches, the date display advances to “31” regardless of how many days are in the month. This means that at the ends of months having fewer than 31 days (five times a year), you must advance the date display manually to have the “1” displayed on the right day. An annual calendar reduces the number of annual adjustments to one. It advances correctly for every month having 30 or 31 days; the only month it can’t master is February, which, of course, has either 28 or 29 days. The annual calendar gets its name from its ability to run for an entire year without correction.
The Omega Hour Vision Annual Calendar has a very simple calendar display, consisting only of an oblong window. This contributes to the watch’s sporty-elegant character. The Omega is the only calendar watch of those we reviewed that does not have any subdials. Omega wanted to limit the number of displays on the dial, so it decided that in addition to the date it would show only the month, which you need to see in order to set the calendar.
Happily, the date and month advance instantly and simultaneously. Our test piece accomplished this feat at two minutes past midnight, much quicker than all the other watches. Plus, the date and month can be quickly adjusted in the first extended crown position: you turn the crown clockwise to change the date and counterclockwise to change the month. It is very easy to set, given that annual calendars are more complicated than standard calendars. The crown-setting system also means the watch has no need for the obtrusive corrector pushers found on some other calendar watches. This is a plus for aesthetic reasons and also because it makes for greater water-resistance: 100 meters, the highest level of any of the watches we reviewed. However, the crown moves stiffly during manual winding. The watch has a hack mechanism that permits precise setting of the time. The highlight of the Hour Vision is its case, which is designed so that the movement can be viewed through sapphire windows in the caseback and sides. Granted, there is relatively little to see from a movement’s sides, but the windows are impressive nonetheless. (Another benefit of not having correction pushers is that they would have obstructed the lateral view.)
The Omega De Ville Hour Vision watch’s movement, the COSC-certified 8601, a double-barreled automatic, is derived from Caliber 8500, Omega’s first in-house base movement. It is fitted with an improved version of Omega’s proprietary Co-Axial escapement. Unlike the 8500, the 8601 has an innovative silicon hairspring designed to increase precision. Fine regulation is accomplished by means of four screws on the balance. The balance is supported by a bridge that helps protect it from shocks and enables more precise adjustment of the endshake, which improves the rate performance. The movement’s decoration suits its modern design: black screws, black barrels, a black balance and red highlighted engraving. Some edges of the bridges, screws and chatons are beveled. The sturdy and easy-to-use folding clasp matches the high quality of the finishing, with great attention given to its details. The clasp holds and guides the strap so that very little metal touches the skin. The watch hugs the wrist; its wearing comfort is exceptional. The price for this model, $9,550 [as of 2010], is lower than you might expect.