The Autodate series consists of two watches in SS cases, the silver-dial panoramadate and the military-dial Navigator panoramadate. The cases don't have any displaybacks and are housing the cal. 38-42, which is a slightly downgraded cal. 39 inhouse movement. This movement differs from its more expensive "brother" in that it lacks a gold segment on the rotor, and the adjustement mechanism is a conventional system using an excenter screw rather than a swan-neck. The functional mechanics, however, and the rest of the decoration are the same. All decoration work, as grinding and anglage, are done manually, rather than by machines, as is the case with Union's cal. 26 movements.
From the front, the Autodate watches can be recognized by the different hands:
Note that the Autodate hands are identical to those used in the Union selfwinding watches. As a consequence, the GO Autodate is the only silverfaced GO which can be read at night, since its hands are covered with luminous mass. Additionally, the Autodate is delivered with a standard buckle instead of the deployment clasp.
The prices are very competitive. However, I have my problems on how to position the Autodate series towards the Union selfwinding watches: The Autodate is still more expensive than the Union panorama date, which has a displayback. The technical differences between the Union cal. 26 and the GO cal. 38 are negligible, and the 2003 Union models will have the deployment clasp that is missing from the GO Autodate. However, there remains the finer finish of the GO movements, in spite of the missing swan neck adjustment.
Therefore, the Autodate is interesting as introduction into the world of GO watches for those markets that don't have a Union dealer network.
Recently, I asked the chief watchmaker of Swatch Austria about his opinion of the Autodate watches, compared with the Union cal. 26. He told me that from the technical point of view, the cal. 38 is still the better movement, and therefore worth the higher price. According to him, the cal. 38 has the better geartrain of the cal. 39, and a slightly better finish, in spite of the lacking swan-neck regulator.