In shared thinking, the perpetual calendar has to be, in certain proportions, one of the most classic looking watch. It is widely accepted that the QP is one of the historical complications and for this reason, playing on traditions and century-old heritage, a perpetual calendar is classic. However, not for some brand, who have decided that a QP can be different. Why not? Why not enjoying a sports watch with a complex movement? This is what H. Moser & Cie might have in mind, by introducing the sporty, steel and (sort of) accessible Pioneer Perpetual Calendar.
As our technical editor Xavier demonstrated in his extensive article about calendar watches, the Perpetual Calendar is one of the most complex type of astronomical displays available (an even more complex version, the secular calendar, exists). Indeed, while many watches are displaying indications such as the date (of course), but also the day of the week or the month, a perpetual calendar (or QP, for quantième perpetuel) does all of that and even more. In fact, the complexity of a QP is not in the indications but in the way it manages them. A perpetual calendar takes into account the different lengths of the months on a 4 years cycle. Its intricate mechanism has a mechanical “memory” over 1461 days. In short, no need to adjust the watch at the end of the month, even for February and whether leap year or not. The date will adjust automatically to the right date, for a 100-year cycle.
While 20 or 30 years ago, the perpetual calendar was still an exclusive mechanism found at maybe 5 or 10 brands, it is today relatively common to have one in a collection. Meaning that to stand out of the crowd, you have to propose something extra. It can be in the display – windows instead of the usual sub-dials, with jumping indications, or simplification of the display – or with security devices – a standard QP is a fragile piece of engineering, which if not used in safe condition can easily block, as the adjustment of the watch is a critical moment. When they entered on the market of the perpetual calendars in the mid-2000s, H. Moser & Cie. did all of that: a specific display and a protected movement. This movement and the watch that was encasing it, the Moser Perpetual 1, even won a prize at the GPHG 2006, emphasizing on a great intelligence of conception.
The beauty of this perpetual calendar by H. Moser & Cie. sits in its combination of complexity (it’s a QP after all, and one that is over-secured) and of simplicity. Indeed, purity, or even nudity of the design, is one of the cornerstones of the brands. And their perpetual calendar is not exception to the rule. In fact, if you’re not told that the watch you’re looking at is a QP, you’ll hardly think of anything else than a time-and-date watch. The need to stand out of the crowd… With such a display, the idea of having it encased in a sports watch was somehow relevant for once – we’ve seen already sport watches with QP, but admit it, it sometimes looks odd. Not here.
The new H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Perpetual Calendar combines the recent Pioneer case, sporty – but not a sports watch either – with the signature QP of the brand. What we have here is a 42.8mm stainless steel watch with a rather bold, masculine style – at least a shape that is more present and more angular than the rest of the Moser production, which usually is refined and subtle. Here, the watch has some presence, due to a large diameter and some angular shapes. The casebands for instance are textured to reinforce the look an the lugs are bulkier, yet facetted for the style.
However, as said, this a sporty watch, not a sports watch. For instance, even with a QP movement and a 120m water resistance (yes, you can even scuba-dive with a QP), the Pioneer Perpetual Calendar remains slim at 11.3mm, making it more subtle than you think. In fact, I would call it a casual watch, with luxurious details and overall masculine look – made for an everyday wear, including weekends and active leisure time. While the 3-hand versions are available on rubber, this QP comes on an alligator strap with steel pin-buckle, a bit dressier and relevant with the complication included (but I’m sure if you ask nicely, you can have an extra rubber…)
The dial of the H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer Perpetual Calendar is in the same vein. Bold, masculine but not void of elegance either. It combines large indexes, with luminous dots for night-time legibility, with the beauty of polished and facetted details. The hands are on the same style, using a traditional leaf shape, but bolder and filled with Luminova. As usual with Moser, the color and texture of the dial has been chosen with great care and here we have a dark blue fumé (darker on the edges than in the center).
The display on this Pioneer Perpetual Calendar is well known… and still extremely simple. A large date window at 3, with instant jump, a small second at 6 and a power reserve at 9. Basta… So where are the calendar indications? Where is the day, where is the month, where is the leap year? First of all, while the date can be very useful on a daily basis, the day of the week makes less sense. Same goes for the leap year, which is extremely important when setting the watch but not as useful as an indication, and this why it is placed on the movement side here. But what about the month? Well the month is displayed, in a very discreet but clever way. Indeed, a dial has 12 indexes for the hours, so Moser decided to use that for the month too. Thus, they are pointed by a small central hand, which uses the hour indexes to point a month. Easy and allowing a clean design.
The back of the Pioneer Perpetual Calendar however is far from clean and pure, which for a movement usually is a compliment. Sporty watch indeed, but with haute-horlogerie pedigree on the caseback. The calibre in this watch is the same 7-day power reserve manual-wind engine found in all editions of the Endeavour (see here, here or here). The HMC 800 is a complex movement:
- An adjustment both forward and backward at any time of the day of the calendar. The movement is protected from faulty manipulations.
- The ‘Double Pull Crown’ which allows a correction of the date by turning the crown (without disturbing the time setting) and set the time precisely (with a hack-second system).
- Perpetual “Flash Calendar” display
- Moser interchangeable escapement (beating at 18.000bph and adjusted in 6 positions) that simplifies the service operations
- 7-day of power reserve announced (but more in the reality) with two large barrels
The finishing of the movement is pleasant, with polished edges, Moser typical double-stripping, straight grained steel parts and large screwed gold chatons. The visual attraction come from the star-wheel that indicate the leap year. This movement has a 34mm diameter that fills the large case but remain slim at only 5.8mm thick.
What H. Moser did with this Pioneer Perpetual Calendar is to bring a consistent watch. Indeed, few are the sporty perpetual calendars that makes sense, mainly because their display is too classical or too complex to befit the style of a sports watch – and the same goes with a a tourbillon, with watches ending in being quite gimmicky. Here, thanks to the clean and clever display, Moser achieved to a have a nice evolution of the collection, with a relevant casual QP. The price, justified by the complex movement, remains rather hefty, even if lower than other QPs from the brand, at CHF 39,900 (€ 38k in Euros) – other QPs from Moser start around CHF 55,000. More details on www.h-moser.com.
Technical Specifications – H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Perpetual Calendar
- Case: 42.8mm diameter x 11.3mm height – stainless steel, polished and brushed – sapphire crystal on both sides – 120m water resistant
- Dial: midnight blue fumé dial, applied indexes, luminous dots – leaf hands filled with luminous paint
- Movement: calibre HMC 800, in-house – manual winding – 18,000 Vib/h – minimum 7-day power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, power reserve and instantaneous perpetual calendar
- Strap: black alligator strap with steel pin-buckle
- Reference: 3800-1200
- Price: CHF 39,900