Akin to a kid entering a toy shop, the world of horology offers collectors a cornucopia of complications and features that will excite us in many different ways. While some complications are seemingly redundant, there are many others that play a practical role in most of our daily lives. One of such complication is the feature of today’s Throwback Sunday: the Perpetual Calendar.
We featured the Annual Calendar last week, and we briefly described the differences between that and the Perpetual Calendar. To recap, the Annual Calendar is programmed to automatically recognize months which have 30 days and those months which have 31 days, advancing automatically at the end of the month. However, it requires a manual adjustment annually at the end of February, as the mechanism does not recognized that there are only 28 or 29 days in February. On the other hand, the perpetual calendar mechanism is programmed to take care of February, knowing to advance from 28 Feb to 1 Mar on non leap years, and to go on to 29 then to 1 March on leap years.
H. Moser and Cie. Endeavour Perpetual 1
Launched in 2006, the Perpetual 1 attracted the attention of many collectors and journalists. At the first glance, the H. Moser and Cie. Endeavour Perpetual 1 does not seem like it contains a perpetual calendar complication. It looks just like a simple dress watch, devoid of the plethora of subdials that is often associated with a perpetual calendar. This gives the watch a very clean look, and the dial is very legible.
So where are the other important indicators such as the month needed for setting the calendar? Moser utilised the hour markers on the dial, which double as the months of year. The small arrow in the centre of the watch indicates the month. In the photo above the date is the 22nd of July. The placement of the leap year indicator, essential for setting the watch is placed at the back to keep the front of the watch free of clutter.
Aside from the aspect of design, the watch also features a “Flash Date Calendar”. This is an interesting concept as it is possibly the first perpetual calendar to feature an instantaneously jumping date mechanism, advancing from 30 to 1 at the end of April, June, September, November and from 28 or 29 to 1 at the end of February. Other perpetual calendars will go from 28 to 29 to 30 to 31 and finally 1 Mar at the end of February, taking sometimes up to 3 hours to complete. The Flash Calendar is also able to jump backwards while most perpetual calendars may jam or even break if forced to reverse date when setting the time.
We love how uncluttered and neat the entire watch looks, and the amazing Flash Calendar feature.
IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “75th Anniversary”
When it comes to perpetual calendar watches, IWC offers many options. We particularly like the Portugieser collection and some would pick the Portugieser Gande Complication, or the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar (Reference 5033/ 5034). Perfectly fine examples and excellent timepieces, but in our minds, the IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “75th Anniversary” makes a more interesting proposition.
The indicators on the dial are laid out with apertures for the day and month, making it easy and legible to read. The dial remains uncluttered, even though the watch also features a fly-back chronograph function.
The Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition, our pick of a perpetual calendar from IWC.
Ulysse Nardin Perpetual Ludwig
Next up, we have the iconic and charming Ulysse Nardin Perpetual Ludwig. This watch was launched back in 1996, and it was made to commemorate the watchmaker’s 150th Anniversary. The watch was named after Ludwig Oechslin, a master watchmaker from Ulysse Nardin.
The Ulysse Nardin Perpetual Ludwig featured several innovations that were revolutionary at that point in time. They include the bi-directional adjustment of the calendar, as well as the ability to amend the various indicators via the single watch crown. We note the Moser Perpetual 1 we picked above has the same features, but this came a good 10 years after the Ulysse Nardin. Other complications include the oversize date display, and the addition of a GMT function for the later models.
Another notable point would be its “bark” dial, as it adds some texture and depth to the watch itself.
Although the Perpetual Ludwig is nearly two decades old, we like how the watch still remains rather graceful and timeless throughout these years. We recommend the original version, in a svelte 38.5mm timepiece still looking very elegant and appealing. Highly recommended.
Vianney Halter Antiqua Perpetual
There are watches that are special, but then there are watches that are extraordinary. And then there is the Vianney Halter Antiqua Perpetual. Vianney Halter, as many collectors have known, is an independent watchmaker that is known to have made timepieces that are out of this world. The Antiqua Perpetual is no exception.
The Antiqua Perpetual is the brainchild between Vianney Halter and Jeff Barnes. The watch features a nautical and steam-pink theme, has four separate windows. The windows are inspired by a ship’s porthole. Each porthole houses an indication and shows the time, date, day, with the month and leap year indicator sharing one porthole. By separating each indicator from each other, it gives a certain clarity to the watch.
The case is unusual, but Vianney has placed great attention to detail on it and the movement. An icon in contemporary design, and will no doubt stand the test of time. A great statement of style and personality.
Jaeger LeCoultre Grande Complication a Triptyque
On the surface, the Jaeger LeCoultre Grande Complication a Triptyque may be deceiving.
The front of the watch is beautiful, without any doubt. We like the combination of the tapestry patterns on the stunning slate grey dial, as it adds a nice classy touch to the timepiece. As this is a Reverso, albeit a large one, the magic starts as one flips the watch case. A whole celestial universe of indications and the perpetual calendar reveals itself. The perpetual calendar itself is detached from the sliding carriage. A pin mechanism from the reverse case that pushes against a button that is on the watch’s carrier case at 12 midnight sharp to advance the indicators which are set instantenaously. Click on this link to read this in detail here and here.
In our opinion, the Jaeger LeCoultre Grande Complication a Triptyque is an incredible timepiece. The combination of a myriad of complications, altogether in the iconic up-sized Reverso case, is spectacular.
A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual
Last but certainly not least, the evergreen A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual. It is an open secret that we are Lange fans, and the Datograph is definitely one of the watches that we have held the highest regard for.
We love the Datograph for its handsome and fine looks, the combination of the white gold case and the slate grey dial makes it even more attractive. It gives the watch a sort of chic and stylish personality. Blue accents on the moonphase indicator and the chronograph hands, give the watch an even more seductive facade.
Despite the addition of the perpetual calendar complication, Lange has still managed to maintain the Datograph’s DNA. One small nitpick might be that the moonphase display seems small, but this is just a case of real estate: the number of indicators that needed to be incorporated on the dial requires that. However, we think Lange has done a fine job with the layout and the watch is rather legible.
Similar to last week’s Throwback Sundays article on the Annual Calendar, we have covered a wide range of watches that feature the perpetual calendar. When one thinks of a perpetual calendar, the classics such as the Patek Philippe 3940 or one of the IWCs, like the Portofino or Da Vinci Perpetual (Reference 3750) will come to mind. The Patek 3940 is a truly classical perpetual calendar and the IWCs incorporates a simplification on the perpetual calendar making way for it to be mass manufactured. Lately, the Montblanc Perpetual Calendar has shown that the complication indeed can be made inexpensive. Indeed these are staples.
But we also wanted to highlight that the perpetual calendar complication does not necessarily need to feature the traditional layout/ dial design. The Moser Perpetual 1 , the Vianney Halter Antiqua and the JLC Grande Complication a Triptyque are our examples in this pick.
So, which are some of your favorite perpetual calendar watches that you have seen or owned over the years? Please share your opinions below, and do have a great week ahead!