Annual Calendar Chronographs and a Bit of History
The combination of an annual calendar and a chronograph seems to be more rare than the Perpetual Calendar Chronograph.
The annual calendar is a relatively young ‘complication’ and was first used in a wristwatch by Patek Philippe in 1996. It’s the less complicated sibling of the perpetual calendar and only requires one calendar adjustment every year. Today we’re looking at the ‘less complicated’ combination of a calendar mechanism and a chronograph. So not the esteemed combination of a perpetual calendar and a chronograph, but the combination of an annual calendar and a chronograph and there are actually only a handful combining these two complications.
While every collector and watch enthusiast will lust over Perpetual Calendar Chronographs made by Patek, Lange, Vacheron and AP, its slightly more simple sibling is not only undervalued but also under-represented in availability. When looking at today’s market for new watches, we could count only a few Annual Calendar Chronographs although we wouldn’t mind seeing more of these. So for the sake of this pretty cool combination of the Annual Calendar and Chronograph, we also included some that can only be found pre-owned. Luckily Patek, Ulysse Nardin, Carl F. Bucherer and Richard Mille still offer an Annual Calendar Chrono today!
Patek Philippe ref. 5960/01G
First introduced in 2006 in a platinum version (5960P) and later also offered in rose gold (5960R) this was Patek’s first Annual Calendar Chronograph and it made quite some waves among collectors. But when Patek replaced the platinum and rose gold version with a stainless steel version (ref. 5960/1A), that really made some waves! In the meantime, the steel version has been replaced by a white gold version with navy blue dial, and two ‘iced’ versions in rose gold and platinum, which are still in Patek’s current collection.
Inside ticks the calibre CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H (what’s in a name) and this is based on Patek Philippe’s first self-winding in-house chronograph. The calendar information is displayed in three apertures at the upper half of the dial: the day of the week is between 10 and 11, the date is at 12 and between 1 and 2 o’clock you’ll see the month. A small power reserve indicator is positioned just below the date, and below that, you’ll see the Patek Philippe name and home town.
What sets this one apart from the rest is that ref. 5960 was the very first annual calendar chronograph to be introduced, ever. Besides the three current references, you will be able to find earlier 5960’s on the pre-owned market. A quick search on Chrono24 shows at least 220 watches of this reference are offered for sale and half these are labelled ‘new’.
Quick facts: 40.5mm white gold case – calibre CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H – annual calendar and flyback chronograph – brown calf leather strap WG buckle – CHF 58,000
Patek Philippe ref. 5905R
The next watch in which Patek combined the annual calendar and chronograph, is the reference 5905 that was introduced in 2015. This watch is slightly larger than the 5960, now measuring 42mm in diameter (instead of 40.5mm.) The main evolution concerned the dial that now features a more modern, monochromatic look with clearly defined sectors and applied baton markers. The mechanics, however, and the overall shape of the case remained (almost) identical. Only available in platinum in the first years, it wasn’t until 2019 before Patek introduced the “R” version: the pink gold 5905R-001 featuring a superb-looking brown dial. For more information, please visit www.patek.com
Quick facts: 42mm pink gold case – calibre CH 28-520 QA 24H – annual calendar and flyback chronograph – alligator strap and pink gold buckle – CHF 58,000
Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar 43mm
The Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar is a sporty classic. Launched in 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the brand’s Marine collection and for the connoisseurs, the annual calendar is, of course, based on Ludwig Oechslin’s design. The base is the in-house self-winding chronograph calibre UN-150 that is enhanced with an annual calendar mechanism. Since this is designed by Oechslin, this means it is a smart annual calendar that can easily be adjusted forward and backwards. This annual calendar mechanism comprises only nine additional parts, hence the competitive pricing.
The Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar comes in several colours and either in steel or rose gold. The relatively clean and legible dial features a traditional layout with three sub-dials, while the month indication shares the running seconds sub-dial and the date is shown in a round aperture at 6 o’clock. The 43mm steel case stands out with its ribbed bezel and solid full-width lugs. For more information, please visit www.ulysse-nardin.com.
Quick facts: 43mm steel case – automatic calibre UN 153 – annual calendar and chronograph – alligator strap and folding buckle – EUR 11,900
Carl F. Bucherer – Heritage BiCompax Annual Calendar
Carl F. Bucherer has breathed new life into one of its historical watches, namely a lovely 1956 bi-compax chronograph. Subsequently, it was enhanced with an annual calendar, making it one of the few with this combination of complications available right now. The Heritage BiCompax Annual Calendar comes in two good-looking versions: a stainless steel version with ‘panda’ dial, and a bi-colour version with rose gold bezel and champagne colour dial. Revisited in a 41mm diameter stainless steel case it combines the two complications into an impeccably stylish package at a price that has nothing to do with what other Maisons offer.
The annual calendar has been incorporated without tainting the convincing retro vibe. The large date is legible at a glance while the secondary month indication is more discreet at 4 o’clock. The automatic movement is based on the tried-and-tested ETA 2894 with an additional annual calendar module. A great package at an affordable price! For more information, please visit www.carl-f-bucherer.com
Quick facts: 41mm steel case – automatic calibre CFB 1972 – annual calendar and chronograph – embossed rubber strap and folding buckle – limited edition of 888 pieces – CHF 6,900
Carl F Bucherer also offers another watch featuring this complication, namely the Patravi ChronoDate Annual that is only available in 18k rose gold, either on leather or on a full 18k gold bracelet. Especially the version with brown dial looks pretty sweet.
Richard Mille – RM 11-01, RM 11-02, RM 11-03, RM 11-04, RM 32-02, RM 39-01 and RM60-01
The RM 11 is one of the classics in the Richard Mille stable and is/was available in quite a few variations. And more importantly, these variations share, of course, the same movement and thus the same complications, namely the chronograph (here a flyback chrono) and the annual calendar. To date, there have been three generations and a host of colourful iterations.
There was the RM 11-01 Roberto Mancini (that I went hands-on with, in 2014), the RM 011 NTPT Lotus F1 Team Romain Grosjean clad in black and gold, and the funky red Richard Mille RM 011 Red TPT Quartz Automatic Flyback Chronograph. However, if you prefer British racing green then Richard Mille made the RM 11-02 Le Mans Classic, but this was sold out and only 150 examples were ever made. On the “-02” edition, we see an additional 24-hour indication at 6 and an additional UTC hand on the central axis, which will allow you to keep track of your home time when travelling.
The last update was RM 11-03 (see here for a review) and the RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph was the last of the RM 11 lineage that we got our hands on. Of all RM models, my personal favourite is probably the RM 11-01 Roberto Mancini, or maybe the updated RM 11-03… but with prices that go far beyond the 100k+ range these watches all remain for the happy few.
Also in the Richard Mille collection, and also equipped with the same movement providing you with a flyback and an annual calendar, are the RM 32-02, the 60-01.
Besides the four we listed above, there are only a few more watches combining the annual calendar complication with the chronograph. And while there are not many available today, even when we look back there are only a few featuring this combination of complications. Here’s a short overview of some of them…
- MIH Watch – we covered this one recently in The Collector’s Series and at the time it was the most affordable watch combining an annual calendar and chronograph. Even today only the Carl F Bucherer (mentioned above) comes close to its impressive price point of CHF 5,000.
- Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronograph Quantième Annuel – for a short period Montblanc made its first and only chronograph annual calendar. It was a short stint at the complication, introduced in 2016 and already long gone from the collection today.
- Zenith also had some goes at the Annual Calendar Chronograph complication. It was with the rather attractive Captain Winsor Annual Calendar Chronograph and the cool-looking Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 Annual Calendar. Unfortunately not in the current collection anymore, but you should be able to find some on the second-hand market.
- Last but not least, Breitling did something under the name “1461”. It was more than an annual calendar and actually came close to a perpetual calendar, as it only had to be adjusted in leap years. It accounted for February being 28 days, and thus during a leap year when February is 29 days, that one adjustment per four years had to be made. The 1461 came in the Transocean and the Navitimer lines.
Are we missing one? Let us know in the comments below!
JLC recently released this complication in their master control series
Not as far as I know… it has always been a triple calendar that has to be adjusted at the end of every month with less than 31 days.
Chronoswiss with Kelek module made in the early nineties
Great article. I don’t know why the annual calendar does not get more love or have more models out there. The convenience to price ratio is unbeatable. I can’t think of any watches that you missed in terms of annual calendar chronographs. The breitling is the most interesting it’s a perpetual calendar without the mechanism to take into account the leap year. Of course the patek 5960/1A with the blue dial is my favorite. But all great watches.
@Akaash: no JLC released a triple calendar that has to be manually adjusted for every month less than 31 days – like most vintage calendars eg. Angelus chronodato or Wakmann triple calendar. Does not take into account 30 and 31 day months like an annual calendar.
The Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Flyback Annuaire Chronograph.
In a totally different league I own a Day-Date Chronograph from the early seventies. It’s a 300 Herz frequency movement first used by Bulova as a Swiss response to the Japanese Quarz invasion of fifty years ago.
Omega gave some notoriety to that tuning fork mechanism (ESA 9210) with the Omega Speedsonic f300 followed by Longines Ultronic Chrono and Certina C-Tronic Chronolympic to name only a few. Mine is a Derbysonic which I bought four years ago for a very reasonable price of CHF 700. It only needs a new battery every two years.
Yeah it’s a shame JLC’s new Chrono isn’t an Annual Calendar. That would’ve made it perfect.
Take a look at Kennsen’s Annual Calendar Chronograph.
Small player with an interesting in-house annual calendar mechanism.
Ha! Ha! Ha! They missed the hottest, most amazing and most exclusive annual calendar chronograph available right now: the Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT. 42mm case in steel or 18K rose gold, 45 hour power reserve, hand finished movement with solid 22K gold winding mass. Only 250 pieces made.
Hello? Ever heard of Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT with the 4 Hz movement? Reference #PFC906-0000140
@James Rocco – we didn’t miss it, we even covered the watch recently. But if you look, this article was published before the presentation of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT, hence why it’s not listed here.
You mentioned it, and I know it’s not in current production but the Zenith Captain Winsor is my favorite watch I own. I have the the black and blue edition, and basically wear it is as an everyday watch. It’s balanced, not symmetrical design, is beautifully proportioned, the variety of dial options makes it ideal for many preferences, it can be worn casually or dressed up IMO, and has the incredible confluence of the historical and the modern. It combines the iconic El Primero movement with the ingenious annual calendar module by Ludwig Oechslin.
just my thoughts, sorry for being a bit evangelical about it.
@Peter – there’s nothing bad being a bit evangelical about a watch you love 🙂
Another quite rare AC piece is the AP Royal Oak Ref. 25920 from the late 90ies (released about one year after the PP).
There is only one winner among annual calendar chronograph watches, the one with hi-beat movement, Zenith Annual Calendar Captain Winsor!