Throwback Sundays: Six Recommendations for a Annual Calendar Watch from Our Archives

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For this week’s Throwback Sunday article, we are still continuing with the theme of complications. This time, the annual calendar.

The complication that we are featuring this week is a little understated. It is none other than the annual calendar, a feature that displays the date, day, and month. While it may be seemingly complicated, it is often overshadowed by the more complicated sibling: the perpetual calendar.

The annual calendar, interestingly, was first featured on a wristwatch only in 1996. The honor for being first goes to Patek Philippe, and the Reference 5035. The first wristwatch to feature this complication. The annual calendar is programmed to determine if a month has 30 or 31 days, and it automatically adjusts the indicators when a new month begins. However, unlike its perpetual calendar cousin, it does not automatically correct for the transition from February to March. A manual adjustment is thus required on 1 March to advance the annual calendar by one day from either February 28 or 29. Hence a manual adjustment once a year, giving rise to its name.

Ever since its inception around two decades ago, many other watchmakers have adopted this mechanism. It offers a cheaper and less complicated alternative to the perpetual calendar, while offering a certain level of functionality and practicality at the same time. Some have flourished, while others did not really make the cut. In this week’s Throwback Sunday, we take a look at our archives to sieve out six stunning annual calendar timepieces worthy of your collection. Read on for our picks.


Patek Philippe 5960


Patek Philippe 5960/1A, Annual Calendar, Chronograph in stainless steel with bracelet.

Patek Philippe 5960/1A, Annual Calendar, Chronograph in stainless steel with bracelet.


First up, the Patek Philippe 5960/1A. For the aficionados, the “1A” suffix at the back of the reference number definitely brings out a certain level of excitement: it tells the tale that this watch is cased in stainless steel.

The Patek Philippe 5960/1A is from their Baselworld 2014 novelties. It follows from the discontinuation of the 5960P (Platinum) and the 5960R (Rose Gold). The 5960/1A, in our opinion, is definitely a more modern interpretation of the 5960 series. Some of the interesting touches include a highly-polished stainless steel bracelet, as well as the intriguing black accents that are found on the watch dial. Even the fonts used for the numbers on the chronograph counters look very contemporary as well. The overall effects make the watch looks much more stylish and definitely much more appealing to the younger clientele.


The Patek Philippe 5960P, cased in platinum.

The Patek Philippe 5960P, cased in platinum.


We were quite fond of the 5960/1A in our review, and we were even more excited by the 5960P. The latter exudes a quiet, discerning style and is much subtle than the stainless steel variant. The slate grey dial pairs beautifully with the platinum watch case.

Definitely a high recommendation.


A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Annual Calendar


The A. Lange & Söhne Annual Calendar, featuring a warm pink gold watch case.

The A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Annual Calendar, featuring a warm pink gold watch case.


Next, a counterpart from Germany: A. Lange & Söhne. Back in 2010, A. Lange & Söhne launched its first annual calendar timepiece in Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). It was welcomed with a warm reception, especially since it offers collectors a relatively more affordable alternative to the much more complicated perpetual calendar.

One of our favorite things about the watch is how traditional and simple it looks. The Saxonia Annual Calendar measures only 38.5mm timepiece but the dial remains rather uncluttered and relatively legible to read.

As we discussed in our SIHH 2010 highlight article, the Saxonia Annual Calendar is not just a pretty face. Equipped with the then new C.085.1, the finishing of this Saxonia Annual Calendar is impeccable. We like the traditional Lange details like the engraved balance cock and the mesmerizing 18-carat gold winding rotor.

Another high recommendation.


Parmigiani Tonda Quator Retrograde Annual Calendar

Next, we have the Parmigiani Tonda Quator Retrograde Annual Calendar. When we first set our sights on this Parmigiani, we were pleasantly surprised. We like how the watchmaker manages to maintain a refined and simple outlook, despite its modern design cues. It is, in our opinion, a nice equilibrium between the keeping the watch design relevant in today’s age, and maintaining a classy and decorous facade at the same time.


Parmigiani Tonda Quator Annual Calendar

Parmigiani Tonda Quator Annual Calendar


The Tonda Quator Retrograde Annual Calendar is powered by Parmigiani’s PF339, a movement that is based on the ever-reliable PF332. This movement features a rather interesting touch: the retrograde date display. It adds an interesting interpretation to the traditional annual calendar complication, and it also simultaneously brings out the technical ingenuity of the engineers behind it. While the retrograde date display is not a particularly difficult feature to create, the addition of the annual calendar module brings this retrograde display onto a whole new level.

Another interesting feature the moonphase indicator which shows the moonphase in both the northern and the southern hemisphere simultaneously.

In a nutshell, the Parmigiani Tonda Quator Retrograde Annual Calendar is a very pleasant timepiece. We like how Parmigiani manages to give this complication a nice modern touch, without making it too cluttered or outrageous. One advantage, like what we have raved about in an article on this timepiece previously, is the watch’s legibility. Parmigiani had done a great job here by using the retrograde date display (instead of having another subdial), and by simplifying and enlarging the present subdials at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. The overall result, in our opinion, makes this watch much more charming and delightful to the eyes. This watch definitely gives many other annual calendar watches a run for its money.


Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Annual Calendar


Vacheron Constantin Quai de l'Ile Annual Calendar

Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Annual Calendar


Up next, we have something that is rather unique and extraordinary. Some years back, Vacheron Constantin launched a rather novel and intriguing concept: the Quai de l’Ile. The concept allows clients to customize his or her own Quai de l’Ile timepiece with an options list that is provided by Vacheron Constantin.

One of the base models for the Quai de l’Ile collection is the Annual Calendar, and we reckon it is quite an alluring timepiece to behold. Similar to the Parmigiani and the Patek Philippe that we have highlighted, the Quai de l’Ile Annual Calendar features several modern design cues. It also features a retrograde display that we have seen in the Parmagiani earlier. We also like the rather avant garde case design.

The Quai de l’Ile Annual Calendar features Vacheron Constantin’s Calibre 2460 QRA, an automatic movement that features a power reserve of approximately 40 hours. As with many of their timepieces, the Quai de l’Ile Annual Calendar also features the prestigious “Hallmark of Geneva”.

Overall, the Quai de l’Ile Annual Calendar is pretty fascinating. We like the idea of having the flexibility to customize our own watch, although there are some perimeters in which we have to follow. Barring that, we thought that it is a fairly fresh concept. This is definitely an annual calendar timepiece that one should look out for, especially if one wishes to own something that is customized to suit their own tastes and preferences.


IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar

After the Vacheron Constantin, we take a look at IWC’s offering: the Portugieser Annual Calendar. Launched in this year’s SIHH, this particular Portugieser is the first watch in IWC’s repertoire to feature the annual calendar complication.


IWC Portugese Annual Calendar

IWC Portugese Annual Calendar


Similar to the Patek Philippe 5960, the Portugieser Annual Calendar had its date, day, and month indicators placed at the 12 o’clock position of the watch. This allows the power reserve indicator and the sub-seconds display to be placed at the 3 o’clock and the 9 o’clock position respectively, similar to the popular Portugieser Automatic (Ref. 5007). It also features an impressive 7 days power reserve, achieved by having a twin barrel system. More details and specification can be found on this introduction article that we have done on this timepiece earlier this year.

Our favorite bit of the timepiece would actually be its dial. We love blue watch dials, and this Portugieser is no exception. The blue sunburst dial compliments the stainless steel casing and indices very beautifully, and it provides a nice contrast for the watch.

The IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar is one of the more affordable pieces in our selection today, but it is no slouch. We feel this is a splendid timepiece for a collector, offering both good value for money.


Urwerk UR1001


The Urwerk UR1001. This is simply a monster, when it is placed side by side with a Rolex Seadweller.

The Urwerk UR1001. This is simply a monster, when it is placed side by side with a Rolex Seadweller.


Saving the best for the last, we have the uber-cool Urwerk UR1001. Known as the Zeit Device, the UR1001 is one of the most outrageous timepieces that money can buy. It is not surprising, as this is a culmination of Urwerk’s work since its inception nearly 2 decades ago.

The UR1001, measures some 106mm x 62mm x 23mm. Yes, a behemoth. Originally conceived as a pocket watch and sold with a massive chain, in BaselWorld 2015, a new reiteration of the UR 1001 Titan was created. The UR1001 Titan came with a strap, in which it features a two piece construction to hold the 450g device in place securely.

Wrist presence? Yes, this is what I call wrist presence!

Wrist presence? Yes, this is what I call wrist presence!

Besides its size, the UR1001 is actually a rather fascinating timepiece. It features the usual Urwerk DNA, such as the revolving satellite indicators for both the calendar and time display. Other complications also include the day/ night indicator, the power reserve indicator, as well as the “service indicator” that can be found at the back of the timepiece.

If one wishes to own an outrageous timepiece with a great wrist presence, then one should look no further. The Urwerk UR1001, particularly the Titan, is one of the most fanciful timepiece that money can buy. Simply mind-blowing.



Our selection for this week’s Throwback Sunday covered a wider spectrum of annual calendar watches, ranging from the more traditional ones like the Saxonia Annual Calendar to the ultra-modern Urwerk UR1001. While the designs have changed, the principle remains: the job of the annual calendar is to provide a more affordable and less complicated alternative to the much more elaborate and classical perpetual calendar.

So, what are some of your favorite annual calendar watches that you have seen or owned over the years? Please share with us via the “comments” section below, and do have a great week ahead!


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  1. It’s a great that VC has an annual calendar. But I have a feeling this has not been a ‘hit’ for VC. Also, I think they should find a way to integrate this movement in a Patrimony / Traditionelle, or even Harmony case. Maybe it will come ‘alive’ a lot more.

  2. Talking my own book here, ha ha, but what about the minimalist Ochs & Junior Annual Calendar?

    • …and what’s more, they’re available in 36mm for the small-wristed. My two cents: the cycle in watch dimensions has already hit an inflexion point and is now heading back towards the diminutive.

    • Here’s another gratuitous prediction: when the bubble pops in those asset classes now enjoying ridiculous valuations, luxury consumables will bear an enormous collapse in demand. The more financially conservative and established houses will head back to understatement. The wave of kidnapping and crime in Italy in the seventies killed the fur-coat and gave birth to smart casual for the aristocrats.

  3. Great review. That UR1001 is a monster. Like wearing your cellphone on your wrist!

    A question about how the date changes at the end of February. If you did nothing, does it go 2/28, 2//29, 3/1 every year? This means having to manually adjust the date forward 3 out of 4 years. Seems backwards, in a sense.

    Are there any watches that go to 2/28, then jump past 2/29 to 3/1 EVERY year, so that 3 out of 4 years NO adjustment to the date is needed. Only every 4th year (leap year) would you need to move the date BACKWARD from 3/1 to 2/29.

    This makes more sense, as the purpose of the annual calendar complication is to minimize the need for manual adjustments, short of a full perpetual calendar.

    • Willy, in an annual calendar, if you did nothing, the watch will go to 2.28, 2/29, 2/30, 2/31 every year. You would need to make the adjustment on the 1 March every year. The watch will show 29 Feb (non leap year) or 30 Feb (leap year) on the 1 Mar otherwise.

      The perpetual calendar’s programming takes care of this and makes the adjustment unnecessary. The watch will go from 28 Feb to 1 Mar or 29 Feb to 1 Mar on a leap year. The next adjustment needed will be on 2100, which is NOT a leap year, even though it is divisible by 4, as the calendar skips the leap year once every 100 years, but it skips this exception once every 400 years. Curious eh? 1900 is not a leap year, but 2000 was (skip the exception once every 400 years), and 2100 will not be a leap year.

      Most perpetual calendar watches will still show 29-30-31-1 sequence. Some will take an hour to go through the unused dates, some will take up to 3 hours. The Moser Perpetual 1’s Flash Calendar, however will jump from 28 or 29 Feb to 1 Mar without showing the intervening dates instantly at the strike of midnight.