A full calendar on the wrist has long been an ideal for both watchmakers and watch lovers.
Here are eight of the year’s best perpetual and full calendar watches that boast one of horology’s most honoured complications.
Although the Ref. 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph has been with us for the best part of a decade, 2020 brings the new Ref. 5270J-001, which clothes the timepiece in 18k yellow gold. And frankly, we wonder why it took so long, because the combination of opaline dial, brown alligator strap and yellow precious metal is gorgeous.
If that weren’t sufficient, this grand complication watch packs more into its 41mm by 12.4mm size than seems reasonable: Hours, minutes, small seconds, day of the week, month, day and night, leap year, day of the month and moonphase indications, as well as full chronograph functionality — plus it won’t need adjusting until 2100. It is powered by Patek Philippe’s manually wound column-wheel Calibre CH 29-535 PS Q, which offers a reserve of about 60 hours. Admire it through a rear crystal or show discretion by hiding it beneath the solid gold caseback that is provided as part of the package.
The entirely revised Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42 (Ref. 3442) features a new IWC-manufactured calibre 82650, whose dimensions permit this new, slightly smaller size, and comes in three references: steel with white dial, gold with blue dial or in a gold case with white dial, as pictured here. The 42mm model is the ideal vehicle through which IWC can flaunt its high-complication credentials. Gold-applied Arabic numerals, hour markers and hands match the elegant case, while the moonphase indicator and months are neatly combined in a subdial at 6 o’clock. The automatic movement, which is displayed through a sapphire caseback, boasts a power reserve of 60 hours and its calendar functions won’t need adjusting till the end of the century.
For 2020, Chopard introduced two new versions of its 43mm L.U.C Perpetual Twin: one in a stainless- steel case with a blue dial and the other in dressy rose gold with a dial in ruthenium grey, pictured here. Although neither reference features the moonphase complication that is common to many calendar watches, both are powered by the double- barrel COSC-certified L.U.C 96.22-L automatic calibre, which offers a 65-hour reserve. The movement’s Côtes de Genève and perlage finishing, and engraved 22k white gold micro-rotor can be admired through a caseback crystal. On this pink gold version, the faceted gold hour markers (as opposed to Roman numerals on earlier models) contrast beautifully with the ruthenium dial, while the leap year indicator between 2 and 3 o’clock provides a tiny pop of red. Chopard supplies the Perpetual Twin on an alligator strap, which perfectly matches its elegant intent.
A complete rather than a perpetual calendar (meaning it requires adjustment for the five months each year that don’t have 31 days), the new Blancpain Villeret Quantième Complet is one of the most exquisite examples of a calendar timepiece you can buy. With its 40mm case in rich red gold, a deep and lustrous midnight blue dial and delicate hands, Roman numerals and moonphase disc in red gold, this is such a beautiful watch that it will be hard to keep your eyes off it. Its Côtes de Genève-decorated calibre 6654 with engraved gold oscillating weight is equally compelling. It is available on a blue alligator strap – or splash out on the red-gold Mille Mailles bracelet shown here.
Unusual for a maison normally associated with precious metals, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraphe GT Annual Calendar Chronograph comes in a 42mm stainless steel case. In addition to chronograph functionality, you also get a neatly displayed annual calendar that requires manual adjustment only once a year. The limited edition (only 200 pieces are available) is a genuinely luxurious watch. It features a clou triangulaire guilloché dial with rhodium hour markers and a curious running seconds half dial that shares a subdial with a tiny month aperture. Or marvel at the 22k gold skeletonised oscillating weight of the PF043 automatic calibre – which is on full display through the caseback. Equally neat is the seamless integration of bracelet, case and lugs.
The Legacy Machine Perpetual Yellow Gold is only the second MB&F Machine to be crafted from 18k yellow gold after 2015’s LM101 Front YG. Limited to 25 pieces, it was developed in collaboration with independent Irish watchmaker, Stephen McDonnell, who reinvented the LM Perpetual movement with a fully integrated perpetual calendar complication that eliminated the usual drawbacks of skipping dates or jamming gears. The secret to a trouble-free, user-friendly calibre: a mechanical processor that uses a default 28-day month (instead of the 31-day month used by traditional perpetual calendars) that adds extra days only when required. The Machine is a vision with its open blue dial revealing the full complication, eye-catching suspended balance wheel and subdials that appear to “float” above the movement on hidden studs. In addition to the hours and minutes, day of the week, month and date on the dial, there are power reserve and retrograde leap year indicators as well.
The maison whetted appetites hugely at SIHH 2019 by offering blue dial and gold bracelet versions of its Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, but dropped the ball somewhat by not offering both on the same watch. Fortunately, it’s redressed matters with the new reference 4300V/120R-B509, which combines the blue dial with 18k 5N pink gold case and bracelet – and for good measure, even throws in a pair of quick-change blue straps, one in alligator and the other in rubber. Blue and pink gold being a killer colour combo, this is a fabulous- looking watch, and as it delivers perpetual-calendar functionality in a 41.5mm by 8.1mm package, it’s a deeply impressive one too. If pushed, we might want a little more juice from its 1120 QP/1 automatic calibre than 40 hours, but as we’d also never want to take it off, we’d probably be able to live with the limited power reserve.
Esteemed Swiss manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre really pushed out the boat when it revealed the new Master Control Chronograph Calendar, which combines calendar and chronograph complications within an elegant 40mm by 12.05mm case in steel (pictured) or in Le Grand Rose gold. Although the date needs adjustment every other month or so, the headline model of the new Master Control collection is nonetheless an impressive watch. It is also handsome, classy and verges on dressy, with applied hour markers and numbers, three blued-steel hands, a combined date and moonphase dial at 6 o’clock, and both day of the week and month neatly displayed in separate windows at 12 o’clock. Power is provided by the new Calibre 759 featuring a column-wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch, and a 65-hour power reserve.
This story first appeared in Prestige Singapore
(Images: Prestige Singapore/ Art direction by Aaron Lee)