Complications, when it comes to horology, are all the functions of a watch in addition to the display of the time. Complications are what make mechanical watches attractive – and indeed, horology might be the only place where we can enjoy complication upon complication. Regarding calendar indications, multiple functions have been created but nothing can beat the beauty of the perpetual calendar – a highly complex mechanism, one of the most coveted complications, that indicates the date, and corrects automatically for months with less than 31 days, as well as leap years. In short, once set, your watch will need a single adjustment every 100 years (as a secular year occurs – see more about calendar watches in our technical guide here). To celebrate the beauty of watchmaking, here are 5 of the best perpetual calendar watches introduced this year!
Note: the following list is based on a consensus among the MONOCHROME redaction team. If you have other examples of recently launched perpetual calendar watches, feel free to share them with us in the comment box.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
As one of the three most coveted complications (with the tourbillon and the minute repeater), the perpetual calendar is often associated with elegance. However, complication means more parts and consequently, thickness. Something that Audemars Piguet wanted to avoid when creating the Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, in order to keep the sleek profile of the Jumbo RO… And the development team succeded, to say the least, as you have in front of you the thinnest perpetual calendar watch and movement ever created. This new model, based on the RD#2 concept, is mainly a technical case study – the design being very RO indeed – where the several layers of a classic QP have been merged into a single stage with the automatic base, resulting in a watch measuring 6.3mm in height (and only 2.89mm for the movement). The rest is equally desirable: titanium and platinum RO case and bracelet, sleek and legible dial in blue, superb execution overall.
Quick Facts: 41mm x 6.3mm titanium case with platinum bezel – Calibre 5133, in-house – automatic – perpetual calendar with date, day of the week, month, leap year and astronomical moon – titanium bracelet with platinum links – 26586IP.OO.1240IP.01 – CHF 140,000
Bovet Récital 21 Retrograde Perpetual Calendar
Bovet is known for its design mixing elegance and boldness but also for its fascinating movements. Calendar and astronomical complications have always been important for the brand, and the recent Récital 21 Retrograde Perpetual Calendar is a perfect example of Bovet’s savoir-faire. Superbly shaped, with an elegant case, the dial shows the perpetual calendar functions in an unusual, yet stunning way. Besides the 3 apertures for the day, the month and the leap year, the main attraction is the retrograde date function, which circles the central hours and minutes sub-dial. An openworked small seconds completes the display. And the overall execution is true “Haute Horlogerie”.
Quick Facts: 44.40mm x 15.50mm – 18k pink gold or titanium case – Calibre 13DM05-QPR, in-house – hand-wound – perpetual calendar with day, retrograde date, month, leap year indication – full skin alligator leather on pin buckle – from CHF 72,000 (depending on the material)
H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer Perpetual Calendar MD
When talking about H. Moser & Cie., clean (not to say nude) displays have always been part of the brand’s DNA. However, for some clients, the original position of the month display on the dial of the signature perpetual calendar (a small arrow-shaped hand in the centre) wasn’t the most convenient. For this reason, H. Moser & Cie. introduced an updated version of its sporty, steel QP, the Pioneer Perpetual Calendar MD that now features oversized indications of both the date and the month. The rest is familiar and pleasant combining the resistance of a sports watch with a hand-finished hand-wound movement with a 10-day power reserve. The back is still a feast for connoisseurs, with the leap year displayed on top of the movement. Also available in a bold but cool burgundy fumé dial.
Quick Facts: 42.8mm x 11.3mm – stainless steel case – Calibre HMC 808, in-house – hand-wound – perpetual calendar with big date window, month window, leap year on the back – black alligator leather strap – 3808-1201 (blue version) – CHF 39,900
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition “Rodeo Drive”
This IWC is a nonsense watch… Who needs a perpetual calendar on an oversized pilot’s watch? But guess what, this is exactly why this watch is cool. Benefiting from the large dial opening, IWC can display all the calendar indication of its perpetual calendar – which includes a 4-digit year and a double moon phase – in a clear and legible way. The 7-day automatic movement and its QP module by Kurt Klaus are all familiar but the special edition presented here certainly needs our attention. Made for IWC’s Rodeo Drive boutique, this reference IW503001 combines a matte black ceramic case and a deep blue dial. Toolish yet complicated.
Quick Facts: 46.5mm x 15.9mm – matte black ceramic case, titanium caseback – Calibre 52615, in-house – automatic – perpetual calendar with date, day, month, year in four digits and moon phase for the northern and southern hemisphere – black textured calfskin strap – IW503001 – CHF 33,000
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar
One of the main benefits of a perpetual calendar is not to have to adjust the indications… But as soon as the watch stops, this benefit becomes pointless. To solve this issue, Vacheron Constantin introduced a watch that we consider here, at MONOCHROME, one of the cleverer developments of the past years. The Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar is a watch with a perpetual calendar function that features not one but two regulating organs, which can be switched by simply pressing a button on the side of the case. In standard mode when the watch is worn, the watch is regulated by a 5Hz oscillator, providing 4 days of power reserve. When you want to store the watch, switch to the standby mode and the watch is now regulated by a 1.2Hz oscillator which allows for no fewer than 65 days of power reserve. This means that you can store your watch for over 2 months in a safe, take it back and all the calendar indications will still be correctly displayed. Technology serving user-friendliness!
Quick Facts: 42mm x 12.3mm – 950 platinum case – Calibre 3610 QP twin-beat, in-house – hand-wound – instantaneous perpetual calendar with date, month, leap year and frequency mode – alligator strap – EUR 210,000