We turn our attention this Throwback Sunday and focus on watches with the perpetual calendar. Here are our six best picks.
Our six best picks for a watch featuring the perpetual calendar
The perpetual calendar, or quentieme perpetual, as the French say it…you know what they say, it always sounds more sexy in French.
We covered this useful complications quite thoroughly in our reviews, but also in our top 6 picks:
- Six Recommendations for a Perpetual Calendar Watch, 2015
- Six Recommendations for a Perpetual Calendar Watch (Part 2), 2015
- Six Perpetual Calendar Watches to End 2017, 2017
- Six Recommendations for a Perpetual Calendar, 2020
- Six of the best Perpetual Calendar Watches (Part 2), 2020
- It’s complicated! 6 recommendations for a perpetual calendar chronograph, 2022
In all but one of the last 6 instalments, we have focused on the plain (if ever there was a misnomer, this was it!), perpetual calendar, and one in combination with the chronograph. For today, we return to the base perpetual calendar. And pick our top six from watches releases in the last 2 years.
Side Note: Our leading picture below is an interesting execution of the complication made in perhaps the simplest of ways. With just wood and precision. Manually operated of course, but an automatic version has been developed with an electronic logic system driving stepper motors and is equally fascinating. Find out more on this blog, where we first discovered it.
And it has been a good crop, so without further ado, let’s go. Unlike our usual no rank list, this one is sorted by increasing retail pricing. The first three are in steel, and the next two in gold, while the final pick is in platinum.
Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar SGD 32,500
This is a rework of a watch first released in 2017. This 2020 novelty is an extension with a new fine matte opaline textured galvanized rose gold dial. Limited Edition of 100 pieces. We have always loved the GO Senator Perpetual Calendar, and have featured it several times.
- Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar in stainless steel, release model in 2017. The launch models also included a rose gold version.
- A three part series of the Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar in daily wear.
- Part 1 shows the parallels of the art of GO craftsmanship with the craft of a bespoke tailor.
- Part 2 explores the similarities of music, in our case a Steinway concert piano. The score outlines the music, but the pianist interprets the music. As in the design outlines the watch mechanism, but each is executed by hand by watchmaker.
- Part 3 looks at the art of the artisanal whisky and the art of watchmaking.Exploring the art of Ichiro Akuto’s Single Malt Whisky.
- Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition in White Gold and skeletonized dial. 2018.
And our top pick from this accomplished family is the latest in SS case and the salmon coloured dial. Simply magnificent. It has the same Calibre 36 is well-known for its precision and stability beating within to almost guarantee an fuss free, reliable operation as one jets across the world.
Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin in SS SGD 36,900
Next up is another variant of an existing watch. This time, from Chopard with a beauty facelift to their original Perpetual Twin released in 2017 (We carried a detailed review of the Perpetual Twin Chronograph then). The 2020 release, being in a year marked by lockdowns due to COVID-19, is a refresh. The new dial is indeed refreshing.
As we noted in our detailed review, the most significant change is in the hour markers; in the 2020 edition, they’ve gone from chunky, applied Roman numerals to arrowhead appliques. As a result, the dial feels much less crowded and twofold more elegant that it was previously. The other difference between the old and new is the use of more contemporary colours for the dial. The 2020 L.U.C Perpetual Twin is available in either blue or ruthenium gray, which we feel complements the design language of the L.U.C Perpetual Twin better than traditional silver. Every other element of the dial remains unchanged, from the cruciform layout, to the hands that indicate the time and calendar indications.
The movement remains the same, very beautiful and capable L.U.C 96.22-L, certainly finished at the top of its class. A look through the sapphire crystal case back says it all: Geneva waves of even width, polished bevels on the edges, polished screw heads, circular grained wheels, and perlage on the base plate, among other things.
Our pick is the SS version, as the pink gold issue is double the price.
Moser Streamliner Perpetual Calendar SGD 82,200
Next up, is a new encasement of a movement which we consider the most advanced perpetual calendar in the market. Currently. We emphasize currently, though the Moser Perpetual 1 has been top of our books for more than a decade.
Though pricey for a steel watch, the Streamliner Perpetual Calendar comes with a steel bracelet which is beautifully integrated to the case. And of course, the magnificent HMC 812. This is an elaboration over the base HMC 341 used in the other Moser perpetuals. The main difference in construction is that the HMC 812 uses a direct drive center seconds instead of the subsidiary seconds at 6 o’clock. This is an important distinction, and we discuss its relevance in our full review linked above.
Other specifications of the HMC 341 remains – from the still innovative Flash Calendar, crown manipulation of the calendar indicators, to the leap year indicator on the case back. This movement allows the Moser to take on a simple, clean dial, and is clever enough to take the operational idiosyncrasies of the traditional perpetual calendar out of the equation. We do acknowledge that many recent perpetual calendars now feature “easy to operate” one crown forwards and backwards adjustments.We see this in the MB&F LM Perpetual as well as the astronomically priced Greubel Forsey Quantieme Perpetual à Équation, as well as the quartz Citizen Chronomaster. But ultimately, the Moser stands out with it is the ultra simple, clean display which is still able to convey all the data for a perpetual calendar.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton EUR 96,500
We up the game a bit with the gold cased watches as we arrive at Vacheron Constantin’s offering in their Overseas collection, but with also in an ultra-thin skeletonised movement. The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton with blue dial does enough to warrant excitement. Its contemporary aesthetics and the inclusion of a full gold bracelet will deter some while enticing others. One thing nobody will disagree on is the exceptional quality of craftsmanship that has gone into every component, from movement to the bracelet.
Our pick is the pink gold model with the rubber strap instead of full gold bracelet. The full-gold version is priced at EUR 130k. This swap of a rose gold bracelet to the strap version makes this model in the same ballpark as its full gold brother without the skeleton dial. As watch enthusiasts, we would rather pay for the effort and beauty of VC’s flawless skeleton execution rather than having a gold bracelet.
Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar SGD 157,300
Lange is next, and is perhaps one of our favourites on this list. This watch is a limited edition of 150 pieces in the white gold case, and we understand the entire series is sold out. There is hope, however, as Lange also offers a non-limited Reference: 345.033 in the pink gold case retails for SGD 141,700.
Needless to say, this is an amazing watch. The aesthetics are spell binding. The play of the colours of white gold and the pink gold dial is sublime. The thought process behind putting the perpetual calendar module around the dial, so that the aesthetics of the Lange 1 (Daymatic) can be preserved cannot be over emphasized. And the execution. What can we say. This is a true Lange. Execution is near perfect.
And of course, we have to retell (again!) the anecdote we first told in the 2012 article of the Launch of the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, and during the Connoisseur Conversations of Watches and Wonders 2021. During the unveiling of the Langematic Perpetual in 2001, our Chief Editior was less than fully impressed with the dial layout of the Langematic Perpetual. He expressed this to Günther Blümlein. Too common…too similar to the Patek 3940. Too classical. He challenged Blümlein to make a perpetual calendar, but to have it in a Lange 1 dial layout. “Impossible”, the great maestro declared…and went on to explain why technically it is impossible to do so. But yet, in Geneva on SIHH 2012, Lange unveiled the Lange 1 with a perpetual calendar and tourbillon. And again for 2021, the Lange 1 with perpetual calendar, and sans tourbillon. Surely, Blümlein is smiling as he looks down from his resting place.
Among the 2021 debutants, especially as a direct, head to head competitor to the Lange, we must single out this next pick:
Patek Philippe’s new In-Line Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5236P SGD 179,300
This is also a magnificent perpetual calendar – in a non-traditional (read traditional perpetual = cluttered) dial, with an in-line calendar display. This is the world’s first wristwatch with an in-line perpetual calendar display. It certainly takes the prize as one of the most fascinating perpetual calendars from a watchmaking perspective.
The biggest talking point on the Ref. 5236P, the linear calendar display, may take some getting used to initially. But once you get over the hump, you will find that it is as ingenious as it is elegant. Printed in blue on white, the day, date, and month displays are supremely legible. With a single-line to display all the calendar indications may not seem like a big deal at first glance, the technical perspective is different. The level of sophistication in the unseen mechanics behind the dial that makes it possible is truly impressive.
The movement that drives the new Ref. 5236P. The technicalities of this magnificent and very complicated movement is discussed in detail in the linked review. And needless to say, the finishing is flawless. Completely top grade, as befitting a Patek Philippe.
And thus concludes this episode. Our sixth in selecting perpetual calendars which caught our attention over the last few years. What would you have included in your list? Get involved in the comments section!