The perpetual calendar is a complication that fascinates many. It was first created by Patek Philippe in 1925, when Thomas Emery commissioned the Geneva-based watchmaker to produce a timepiece that identifies the leap year and displays the date correctly without any adjustment or human intervention.
Today, the perpetual calendar remains one of the most exclusive complications in the world of haute horlogerie. It is mostly reserved for the higher echelons of the watch world. The prices are on the higher-end of the scale too – most of them are priced upwards of five figures, with some even hitting the six-digits mark. This is after all a complication that requires a lot of components and man hours to produce.
Well, what makes a perpetual calendar even more special, for some, is the fact that it is actually a “mini computer” in a way. Most of the perpetual calendars do not require manual adjustments for an extended period of time – if it is kept running continuously. This is truly a pursuit for accuracy.
We have previously done two Throwback Sundays articles with perpetual calendars. Hence, for today’s column, we will be focusing on the newer releases this year. What have selected? Let’s find out!
H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Perpetual Calendar
We begin the article with a perpetual calendar that has gain a steady following over the last few years: the H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Perpetual Calendar.
When H. Moser & Cie. first launched the Perpetual 1 (the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar’s predecessor), it had caught the attention of the watch collecting world. Contrary to the usual offerings from the other brands, the Perpetual 1 is unique with its clean and minimalist look. The fumé dial – especially done in blue – is definitely an alluring sight to behold.
Besides its wonderful looks, the timepiece is also very advanced technically. The HMC 341 movement features many interesting functions that is ahead of its peers. First, it has the flash calendar, which allows the date to jump instantaneously from the last date of the month (either 29, 30, or 31) to the 1st of the next month. Next, the modular movement allows the escapement to be removed individually for servicing. Finally, it also boasts an incredible power reserve of 7 days.
While the model has been around for quite some time, the new variant in white gold and blue fumé dial is definitely a looker. While it is slightly pricey at S$83,790, but we reckon the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar is one of H. Moser & Cie.’s finest offerings.
Ulysse Nardin Classic Perpetual Ludwig
On the same note of innovative watchmaking, we have another timepiece that was also of its time. Cue the Ulysse Nardin Perpetual Ludwig.
When Ulysse Nardin launched the original Perpetual Ludwig in 1996, it was considered as a technological marvel. Not only does Ulysse Nardin allows the various indicators to be adjusted by a single crown, but what makes the watch even more special is the fact that all the indicators can be adjusted bidirectionally. That was certainly revolutionary back ithen.
Recently, Ulysse Nardin had produced an updated version of the original Perpetual Ludwig. The new watch – named Classic Perpetual Ludwig – is largely based on the original model that debuted more than two decades back. It features the same dial layout, with a similar mechanism. However, there are differences as well, such as a larger case size (an increase of 2.5mm to 41mm) and a slight update to aesthetics of the dial.
The timepiece is powered by the Caliber UN-33, based on the ETA 2892. The finishing is great, especially with the winding rotor that features the anchor emblem that is surrounded by blue enamel. Overall, we feel that this is well-made and elegant timepiece. The price tag of the stainless steel variant is S$30,500, and we think that it offers great value for a such a significant and well-made timepiece.
IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month
The flagship Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month is one of the latest addition to the new IWC Ingenieur line-up, which is touted as the largest, heaviest, and most expensive timepiece in the current collection to date.
The new Ingenieur collection from IWC dates back to its original design – featuring a rounded and less aggressive design. This is unlike the last few generations of the Ingenieur, which features a sporty angular case that was inspired by Gerald Genta’s design back in 1976. The highlight of the collection is the flagship model – which features both the perpetual calendar and the flyback chronograph function. Another interesting element is its digital display, which gives it a contemporary touch. While we understand that the digital display is not something that is particularly new, but nonetheless, the novelty factor is pretty much still there for us.
The 45mm red gold watch is fitted with IWC’s Calibre IWC 89800. One of the reasons for the watch’s thickness is due to the perpetual calendar module, as well as the stacked wheel design. It also features the signature Pellaton pawl-winding system, and it has a decent power reserve of 68 hours. Finishing is decent, although it is definitely not exceptional. However, with a price tag of CHF 49,500 (approximately S$68,570), the watch offers collectors an excellent price proposition as compared to its competitors within the same realm.
Glashutte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar
The launch of the new Calibre 36 in last year’s Baselworld had certainly caught our attention. The movement – featuring a 100 hour power reserve, great finishing, and individual examination – had certainly set the bar. The new Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar, which uses the Calibre 36 as a base movement, is certainly a tasteful alternative.
The new timepiece from the Glashutte-based watch manufacturer had some modifications from its predecessor. Despite sharing similar aesthetics, the 2017 model comes with a new dial, case, and movement. The main similarity, perhaps, lies in the perpetual calendar module. The module is the same as its predecessor, which explains the similar aesthetics for the various calendar indicators. We certainly like its layout, as it provides symmetry and retains the watch’s clean and simple design.
The 42mm timepiece is available in two variants. The stainless steel version is priced at S$34,600, while the red gold model retails at S$57,600. We think that it is well-priced for a solid timepiece, and the stainless steel version is an excellent option for someone who wishes to own his or her first perpetual calendar watch.
Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chronograph
The new Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chronograph, launched in this year’s Baselworld, offers collectors a new option for the collection. This time, the flagship model from Chopard is available in platinum, with a new blue dial. The dial is made from solid gold, and features an intricately hand-guilloché sunburst motif.
Big is probably an understatement to describe this watch. The L.U.C. Perpetual Calendar is sized at 45mm, with a thickness of 15.06mm. The large size is somehow vindicated by the relatively shorter lugs. The contemporary design helps as well, in which it helps to justify the current trend of large watches. We are pretty much sold by its aesthetics, although there might be collectors who reckon that it is a little too cluttered with the overlaying sub-dials.
Priced at €101,710 (approximately S$163,224). this platinum version of the L.U.C Perpetual Chronograph is limited to a production of 20 pieces. It is well-priced against its peers, especially since this is cased in a more exclusive material. The finishing is excellent too, as it bears the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva. What else can you still ask for?
Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5320
Finally, we round up the article with one of the highlights of Baselworld 2017: the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5320.
One of the main themes this year is vintage reissue, and the Ref. 5320 is inspired by a combination of 3 differences vintage references from Patek Philippe’s archives. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, would be the dial layout from Ref. 1526. That design, consisting of a twin aperture (for day and month) and a sub-dial (for date and moonphase), has been a mainstay in many of Patek Philippe’s perpetual calendar pieces. The other two design cues, inspired from Ref. 2405 and Ref. 1591, are more subtle. The former features a rather intricately designed fancy lugs, while the latter inspired both the indices and fine-tipped baton hands. The combination is simply brilliant.
The finishing, notably, is excellent as well. The Calibre 324 S Q that powers the Ref. 5320 comes with a variety of decorations. It includes polished chamfers on the edges, Côtes de Genève on the bridges, and perlage on both the main plates and rotor. It also has the Patek Philippe Seal, which is a testament to the accuracy and quality of the movement.
The Ref. 5320 is priced at S$109,000.
The perpetual calendar is one of the reasons why we like horology. It never ceases to amaze us that a mechanical device, as small as 30 over millimetres in diameter, is capable of so many different functions. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are even more incredulous complications, but we shall save it for another occasion.
The perpetual calendar is pretty much like an annual calendar, except for the fact that it is able to identify the leap years as well. That is extremely thoughtful, and it is especially handy when the new year arrives. Hence, we feel that it would be appropriate to feature this complication for our last article of 2017.
So, what are your thoughts on our selection? Also, what are some of the new perpetual calendars that have caught your eyes this year? Let us know in the comments section below!