Calendar complications and timepieces have been synonymous since the bygone era of pocket watches. These complications include the basic date and the sophisticated perpetual calendar. There are also those of middling complexity, the most recently invented of which is the annual calendar. Officially making its mark in the world of watchmaking in 1996, the annual calendar combines the best parts of the simple triple calendar and the perpetual calendar. This is a calendar that is complete in its displays, requires adjustment only once a year as opposed to bimonthly (like a triple calendar or day-date), and isn’t as costly to purchase in the form of a wristwatch as compared to the perpetual calendar. Numerous manufacturers have since incorporated at least one resident annual calendar wristwatch into their catalogues; Saxony’s Glashütte Original becomes the latest one to do so.
Glashütte Original PanoMaticCalendar
Glashütte Original is a household name in German and luxury watchmaking. In its stable are multiple iconic creations such as the asymmetric dial designs of the Pano collection and the inverted movement of the PanoInverse. In spite of the relative young age of modern-day Glashütte Original, the brand has amassed an impressive arsenal of complications ranging from the flying tourbillon and moon phase, to the off-centre chronograph and perpetual calendar. For the longest time, the annual calendar has eluded the plans of Glashütte Original, that is until this year. Naturally, the manufactory is buzzing as this is yet another important feather to its already distinguished cap. Here, we bring you the details and our honest thoughts on the new PanoMaticCalendar, the first ever annual calendar wristwatch by Glashütte Original.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The all-new PanoMaticCalendar was released in two versions simultaneously. The first is the classical version in red gold, the second, a limited edition rendered in platinum. Material aside, the cases in both iterations are identical. Measuring a contemporary 42 mm in diameter and 12.44 mm in height, the casing for the PanoMaticCalendar is by no means dainty. German wristwatches do tend to be a tad larger than their Swiss counterparts, so this sizing, especially for a complicated piece, comes as no surprise. Finishing wise, the bezel, crown, as well as the top surface and bevels of the lugs are mirror polished while the rest of the watch is given a satin finish for contrast. The red gold variant is paired with a brown Louisiana Alligator nubuck leather strap with foldover clasp or pin buckle in red gold, while the platinum is matched with a black Louisiana Alligator nubuck leather strap with a foldover clasp in platinum.
The dial of the PanoMaticCalendar is where the fun truly begins. The red gold variant features a classic silver opaline dial while the platinum version has an openworked galvanic black dial that offers glimpses into the innerworkings of the watch. The asymmetrical, off-centre design has always been a highlight of watches from the Pano collection and the PanoMaticCalendar is no different. Time is displayed in the form of two sub-dials – the larger one for the hours and minutes, and a smaller, overlapping sub-dial for the seconds. The two sub-dials are decorated with concentric guilloche pattern in the red gold model but are cut open in the platinum model. Indicating the time are alpha hands (either red gold or blued) for the hours and minutes, and a lancet hand (blued or rhodium-plated) for the seconds.
In the bottom-right quadrant are the big date and month displays of the PanoMaticCalendar. As usual, the big date is highlighted by a gold frame in the classical models of the Pano collection. In the platinum model, it’s been stripped bare of embellishments because there is no dial over where the date is. Meanwhile, the month display, which hugs the perimeter of the dial, stakes its claim as the PanoMaticCalendar’s most interesting feature. Glashütte Original dubs it a “retrograde month display”, which we feel requires some clarification. The display is only “retrograde” visually but not mechanically. To achieve this, the watch utilises a curved sapphire crystal window that spans from 3 to 6 o’clock. The crystal is tinted grey (black in the platinum variation) with the sole exception of the month numerals. The indicators on the month ring beneath it, which completes one revolution every four years, ensure in this manner that only one digit at a time is highlighted in color.
The final display on the dial is none other than the perpetual moon phase, located at the 2 o’clock position. Like in most high-end calendar watches, the moon phase display is accurate to within one day for every 122 years.
Driving the PanoMaticCalendar is the new 53-jewel Calibre 92. The movement boasts an impressive power reserve of 100 hours off of just one barrel and operates at a modern 4 Hz frequency. It is fitted with a silicon balance spring for protection against magnetism. The Calibre 92 is secured in the case with a bayonet mounting which ensures shock and impact resistance.
The movement used in the red gold and platinum variants are essentially the same. The only difference is cosmetic: the Calibre 92 in the former is rhodium-plated, while it is black rhodium-plated in the latter. The construction of the movement is typical from Glashütte Original: three-quarter plate, off-centre rotor and double swan neck regulator. The decorations are also routine. Visible through the sapphire crystal case back are Glashütte stripes, beveled edges, blued screws, and hand-engraving on the balance bridge.
The Competitive Landscape
First presented to the world in 1996, the annual calendar has been around for 26 years. It would seem like Glashütte Original – with their first annual calendar wristwatch introduced only this year – had missed the bus and are really, really late to the party. But the truth is that annual calendar wristwatches remain a fairly uncommon entity, even almost thirty years after its introduction. It’s not easy being the middle child. While the perks of the annual calendar are clear, the flipside matters too. It is just not as glamourous as the perpetual calendar to wealthy collectors (who have little to no financial constraints), more of a hassle to set than the ever-pragmatic date complication if the watch is unwound for an extended period of time, and more expensive than a triple calendar, which conveys the same information to its user. The silver lining is that the annual calendar wristwatch market far from saturated, allowing newcomers like the PanoMaticCalendar to stand out; not that the PanoMaticCalendar, with its asymmetric design, needs any more help standing out. The PanoMaticCalendar in red gold, priced at EUR27,600, is a regular production piece while the platinum edition, limited to 150 pieces only, is priced at EUR40,400.
Interestingly, while Glashütte neighbours A. Lange & Söhne were the first to champion the off-centre, asymmetric dial design with the Lange 1 back in 1994, there isn’t a single Lange 1 wristwatch with the annual calendar complication yet. The illustrious Saxon brand does, however, have several annual calendar references in its other collections, one of which is the Saxonia. The Saxonia Annual Calendar is the brand’s earliest annual calendar timepiece, making its debut in 2010 when the complication was a lot rarer. Like the PanoMaticCalendar, the Saxonia Annual Calendar is self-winding via a micro-rotor and features a big date. But unlike the former, the latter displays the month traditionally using a sub-dial and a hand. It’s worth noting that the Saxonia displays the day of the week as well, something Glashütte Original decided to do without on the PanoMaticCalendar. At 38.5 mm only, the Saxonia Annual Calendar will be the dressier choice. It also boasts superior finishing, which contributes to its steeper pricing at the USD50,000 mark (gold model).
Several years later at SIHH 2017, A. Lange & Söhne presented a second annual calendar model: the 1815 Annual Calendar. Yet again, the design was classical but this time featuring hallmarks of the 1815 collection such as Arabic numeral hour markers and the railroad-style minute track. The 1815 Annual Calendar comes with a convenient pusher at 2 o’clock that advances the date and the day simultaneously when actuated. At 40 mm, the watch sits between the PanoMaticCalendar and the Saxonia in size. The 1815 Annual Calendar is traditional in the construction of its movement and is manually wound – a boon for the purists among us. Retailing at under USD50,000, the 1815 Annual Calendar finds itself wedged between the Saxonia and the PanoMaticCalendar in terms of pricing.
Modern, atypical, and unabashedly German, the Glashütte Original PanoMaticCalendar becomes the newest flagbearer for annual calendar wristwatches made outside Switzerland. It offers excellent value for money considering the quality found under the hood – a property seen in most Glashütte Original watches. With that it mind, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if a stainless steel variation of the watch was to be released in the near future.