Its time for us to update our recommendations for the perpetual calendar category, and here are our best 6 picks.
Our last perpetual calendar recommendation on Throwback Sunday was in just about a year ago in October 2022. The one before that was published in January 2020 and again in February 2020. So we thought it may be time to survey the watches released since 3Q 2022 and recommend six perpetual calendars.
Our six best recommendations for a watch with perpetual calendar
The 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar first came about in 2013 and even managed to pick up a prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie then. The watch is heavily inspired in design by old Lange pocket watches. Of course, it isn’t all about old school cool, with the dial aesthetics leaning heavily to the ancient layout. But as they say, one cannot improve on perfection. And though the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar is not perfect, it is well near.
The dial is made of solid pink gold and though the industry pundits handily nickname the hue as “salmon”, Lange themselves avoid using the fish as a reference. Salmon dials have become rather mainstream as they are very popular and becoming nearly as sought after to all time favourite dial colours like white/silver, black and blue. And of course, this being a Lange, the movement is absolutely ravishingly beautiful and superbly finished.
As the first on our list, it handily one ups the other watches on the list by not only adding a chronograph, but a split seconds one to boot. Of course, this raises the price up by many levels, making the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar easily the most expensive watch on this list. Lange states the price is on application, but we reckon it to be north of a quarter million buckeroos (yes USD!).
The Polo collection is Piaget’s answer to the now extremely popular genre of the sporty steel luxury wristwatch. The collection has steadily gained acceptance in the collector community. The Polo is available in a time only automatic Polo S, in Polo Skeleton with its openworked dial, in Polo Chronograph configuration, and from this year, also as a perpetual calendar.
We have been fans of the ultra-thin offerings by Piaget for a long time. They manage to incorporate excellent, eye pleasing aesthetics with a robust ultra-thin movement. This is not exactly an easy feat, but one which Piaget (and Bvlgari) are particularly adept to. The Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin in a green gadroon dial is a very beautiful offering from Piaget. The dimensions are absolutely well chosen, and the 42mm case with its 8.65mm thick wears nicely and comfortably on the wrist. The watch looks very nice and luxurious. And despite the need to show the entire calendar indicators on the dial, legibility is not compromised.
Next comes the MB&F LM Perpetual which was introduced in 2015. A project which Max Büsser once said he would never undertake is the perpetual calendar. He opined that it was a complication which was too easy to misunderstand and misuse. But when Stephen McDonnell approached him with the idea of a perpetual calendar which uses the crown for all adjustments, and which will not jam or break if adjusted backwards, Max was intrigued. And set about to design a watch in the Legacy Machine collection to house this innovative movement. Ever since, the LM Perpetual has seen many variants. But our pick is for the version in Stainless Steel with a salmon face plate which retails for CHF 164k.
In the MB&F Perpetual Calendar, a “mechanical processor” consisting of a set of discs is used. The processor takes the default number of days of the month as 28, and add extra days as required by each individual month. This ensures the display shows the correct calendar which skips directly the the 1st of the next month and does not display the redundant days.
As the system is based on a planetary cam, it also allows quick setting of the year to correctly display the four year leap year cycle, while in a classical perpetual calendar, the entire 4 year disc needed to be scrolled through as the mechanism will not allow reversal of the year. To reach the next cycle, up to 47 months needed to be scrolled through.
The Top Gun franchise has worked very well for IWC, and what a brilliant masterstroke it was to have bagged that deal! And IWC has wasted no time to exploit this collaboration with a large number of references which are linked to the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (SFTI program), more popularly known as Top Gun (stylised as TOPGUN). The entire collection are extremely popular among collectors, and often have long waitlists, with some variants being near impossible to approach for a novice to acquire.
Our recommendation comes under the sub-collection is part of IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch collection, and characterised by the use of ceramic as the case material of choice. This time, the ceramic case is executed in a beautiful white. The case is huge at 46.5mm, but looks kind of all right when coupled with the signature giant crown.
The Ref. IW503008 is equipped with a perpetual calendar module first developed in the 1980s by Kurt Klaus and will carry a retail price tag of SGD 59.5k. One can argue about the practicality of a perpetual calendar on a flight watch, which is a non-chronograph, but this style has existed in the IWC catalog for decades, and remained very popular.
Moser continues to make new variations on the theme on their perpetual calendar movement. The movement is what we consider as the best perpetual calendar currently in the business. The features built into the perpetual calendar first introduced by Andreas Strehler when he designed the movement is still right up there. The very innovative Flash Calendar is still the best in the business with the ability only display relevant dates with no intermediary by instantly jump to the next date indication at the end of each month.
The movement also features a crown which can manipulate all the calendar indicators is innovative, though this feature was first found in the Ulysse Nardin Perpetual Ludwig back in 1996, and and more recently in the MB&F LM Perpetual (see above for more details on the feature) as well as the astronomically priced Greubel Forsey Quantieme Perpetual à Équation, as well as the quartz Citizen Chronomaster. Both the MB&F and Greubel Forsey also have the ability to jump instantly from the last date of the month to the first of the next without displaying the intermediate dates. 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. This version in tantalum has a retail of CHF 75k.
And last, but certainly not least, we come to Breguet. The Ref. 7327 was released in 2023, and will replace the long standing Ref. 5327, which we featured in 2013. The case remains the same magnificent coin edge signature that Breguet is well known for, and retains the elegance and classic look of the maison. The novelties are available in either a white gold or rose gold case, and measures 39mm in diameter by 9mm thick.
The movement has been updated with the new 502.3.P, which is of course made in-house by Breguet (Manufacture Breguet, which was Manufacture Lemania). This update results in movement of the pivots of some of the indicators on the dial, creating a different dial aesthetic, which to us, looks quite a bit cleaner than the old version. We also liked the moon, which lost the idiosyncratic cloud motif with smiling face styling to a more practical hand hammered look, something which may be missed by some as it suggests a less extravagant manufacture, but appreciated by others. Retail price is SGD 107.5k.
Quite an interesting mix, if we say so ourselves. With selections from mainstream houses like IWC to independents like H. Moser and MB&F. But also managed to include releases from Piaget, Breguet and Lange. What do you think you would have included in this list? Let us know!