Whatever the style or the range in which you’re looking, a perpetual calendar remains one of the most fascinating types of mechanical watch. There is something truly intriguing in this small device capable of calculating multiple indications, and being correctly adjusted for no fewer than 100 years. It stands right there, at the end of the watchmaking food chain. Despite the rather complex situation for the industry in 2020 (which will also have effects in 2021), brands didn’t overlook this beautiful mechanism and Watches & Wonders 2021 offered its dosage of perpetual calendars. Here are 5 that caught our attention.
Short reminder about the perpetual calendar: as explained in our technical guide on calendar watches, a perpetual calendar is one of the most complex types of mechanism found in watchmaking, due to the complexity of our calendar. It is a watch that can automatically calculate the right number of days in a month, whether it is composed of 30 or 31 days, but also 28 days for the month of February and finally, once every four years, it even takes into account the 29 days of February, in case of a leap year. The only thing a normal perpetual calendar doesn’t calculate is the secular years (1800, 1900 or 2100).
A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar
Born in 1994 alongside the resurrection of the brand, the Lange 1 is A. Lange & Söhne’s most emblematic watch, with its voluntarily off-centred display and signature outsize date. The Lange 1 has become Lange’s ambassador at large and has appeared in countless guises, with all sorts of complications. Until now though, the perpetual calendar was only reserved for the most exclusive model of the range, combined with a tourbillon. This year, Lange introduces a simplified edition that focuses only on the QP, yet with an integration that entirely respects the design of this icon. The months are arranged on a rotating ring on the periphery of the dial, the days are displayed like the Daymatic model, the leap year is discreetly integrated at 6 o’clock… and the outsize date is right where it should. Underneath is an automatic movement vaguely based on the Daytmatic. It is presented in rose gold with a grey dial (standard edition) and in a limited edition in white gold with a stunning rose gold dial. More details in our article here.
Quick Facts: 41.9mm diameter x 12.1mm height – 18k pink gold or 18k white gold – calibre L021.3, in-house, automatic, 50h power reserve – hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds, perpetual calendar with precisely jumping displays for the outsize date, day of the week, month and leap year, moon phase display with integrated day/night indicator – alligator leather strap – EUR 98,000 in pink gold, EUR 109,000 in white gold
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar
With its Octo Finissimo collection, Bvlgari has demonstrated an incredible savoir-faire in modern watchmaking, merging contemporary design and unrivalled ultra-thin capacities, but not just for the sake of numbers. It is here to serve the look. Still, this year the brand has presented its 7th world record for thinness in 7 years… And now launches its vision of a perpetual calendar. With its signature full matte titanium look, it is fresh and bold… and measures 5.80mm in height only. The dial gathers all necessary indications of a QP, yet with a certain twist with off-centred and retrograde indications. Under the hood is an automatic, integrated QP movement of just 2.75mm, wound by a micro-rotor and offering 60h of power reserve. Another milestone in Bvlgari’s quest for thinness. All the details in our review with video here.
Quick Facts: 40mm diameter x 5.80mm height- sandblasted titanium – calibre BVL 305, in-house, automatic, 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, perpetual calendar with day of the week, month and retrograde date and leap year – integrated titanium bracelet – EUR 60,000
Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono Titanium
Chopard, under the L.U.C collection, is capable of very, very beautiful things. An example of this savoir-faire is the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono, a watch that combines a hand-wound chronograph with a QP, which has been revamped this year with a more modern, slightly more casual approach. It is indeed fitted with a titanium case and a redesigned monochromatic dial, for a sleeker look. What remains is a watch with true watchmaking expertise. Many indications on the dial, yet all well displayed despite the combination of complications. In addition to the chronograph sub-counters, this watch comes with a large date, QP indications, a day-night indicator and a moonphase. Under the dial is a modern flyback chronograph calibre, with column wheel and vertical clutch. More details in our hands-on article here.
Quick Facts: 45mm diameter x 15.06mm height – grade 5 titanium – calibre L.U.C 03.10-L, in-house, COSC and hallmark of Geneva, hand-wound, 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with 12-hour and 30-minute counters, perpetual calendar with large date, week-days, months, leap year, day-night indicator and moon phase – grey nubuck calfskin strap – EUR 74,500
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Steel
As the flagship in the brand’s collection of pilot’s watches, the IWC Big Pilot has been the platform used to display the brand’s most complex movements. As such, Kurt Klaus’ perpetual calendar module, known for its oversized display, couldn’t escape the BP – which was first used in the collection in 2006. Since then, no fewer than 37 versions of this model have been released. But recently, it was only available in limited edition iterations… until this year, as the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar in steel enters IWC’s permanent collection, with the new reference IW503605. Fitted with a blue dial, it combines the robustness of the collection and a delicate QP mechanism in an oddly appealing manner. The watch is powered by the in-house calibre 52615, IWC’s 7-day, twin-barrel automatic movement with a dial-side, user-friendly and fully equipped perpetual calendar module. More details in our hands-on article here.
Quick Facts: 46.2mm diameter x 15.4mm height – stainless steel – calibre IWC 52615, in-house, automatic, 168h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, perpetual calendar with date, day, month, year of 4 digits, moon phase for both northern and southern hemispheres, power reserve indicator – blue calfskin strap – EUR 30,200
Patek Philippe In-line Perpetual Calendar 5236P
Patek Philippe is certainly one of the most prolific producers of perpetual calendars. Just like the hand-wound chronograph or the minute repeater, the QP is a signature complication for the brand. Let’s agree on the fact that it plays here in its comfort zone. Still, Patek this year innovates with a new model, the Perpetual Calendar 5236P, which stands out of the crowd thanks to its clean and very intuitive “in-line” display. It indeed displays the day, the date and the month on a single line in an elongated aperture beneath 12 o’clock, thanks to 4 non-overlapping discs. Behind this new QP module are several challenges, such as space and energy management. This explains the movement underneath, the Calibre 31-260 PS QL – based on the 5235 Annual Calendar Regulator. The watch itself is highly elegant and refined, beautifully shaped and features a handsome gradient blue dial. Typical Patek…
Quick Facts: 41.3mm diameter x 11.07mm height – 950 platinum – Calibre 31-260 PS QL, in-house, Patek Philippe Seal, automatic, 38-48 hours of power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, in-line perpetual calendar with day, date, and month, Leap-year cycle and day/night indicator, moon phases – alligator leather strap – EUR 113,200