perpetual calendar watches

A year of complications

Recent years have seen obvious change in the high complications market.

We were struck by Patek Philippe in 2015 with one of their most complicated watches ever created– The Grandmaster Chime. In celebration of their 175th Anniversary and using their calibre 300 movement, this semi-hideous and exuberantly embellished piece, with 20 complications and over 1366 parts, took 7 years to develop. No question an astonishing piece of horology. Very few would wear this watch (even if they were lucky enough to be able to), but it’s a timepiece that everyone admires nonetheless.

MB&F Legacy Machine 3

MB&F Legacy Machine 3

2016 saw MB&F bring out two new horological robots (Melchior and Sherman), and also re-create from scratch the idea of a 31 day date calendar in their Legacy Machine 3 (with their 25 day date wheel with adjustments). Simply awesome design work and phenomenal craftsmanship from watchmaker Stephen McDonnell on this creation.

One independents are the Gronefeld brothers, Tim and Bart, who have scored highly with their new 8 seconds 1941 Remontoire developed with parts from another phenomenal watchmaker, Andreas Strehler. This 8 second constant-force mechanism is something stunning to behold, and the “Horological Brothers” have yet again carefully finished their piece with simple beauty and that recognisable Gronefeld approach. The pair manage to finish their pieces in a truly luxurious way, yet they somehow avoid the garish ostentatiousness we often see in haute horology.

Perpetual Calendar watches

Moving on, or rather back, to our favourite complication of them all – the Perpetual Calendar. There is something about this complication that speaks a comforting horological language that few others do. Firstly, Perpetual Calendars do not need to be reset. This alone defines a philosophical standpoint for time telling. Time doesn’t stop or need to be reset, so why would a watch? Secondly, while unquestionably one of the more intricate complications, it is also one of the most functional.;more useful on a daily basis than an equation of time or a double-tourbillon. Due to their intended purpose of continual use, Perpetual Calendar movements require a level of durability and precision that far exceeds most other complications..

Historically the Perpetual Calendar complication represents something special as well. Before there was any way to test or time a watch electronically, these complications were the go-to device for tracking long time periods. It’s why the watchmaking technologies around this complication were generally developed further than other (at the time less useful) complications in the late 1800s and early 1900s. And it’s why we have some much development to reference and progress on today.

Recent Perpetual Calendar watches

Two new Perpetual Calendars last year were from Urban Jurgensen and Frederique Constante on display at Basel World 2016.

Urban Jurgensen, who are a small manufacturer producing under 1000 pieces per year, have a rather interesting Perpetual Calendar

Urban Urgensen Reference 3

Urban Urgensen Reference 3

Moonphase called the “Reference 3”. Highly limited and stunningly finished. Not a new watch, but worthy of note.

It’s highly reminiscent of a Breguet with a thin case at 37mm wide and an unusually cool, noticeable flat caseback all in platinum. It features a hand guilloche’d solid silver dial, Breguet-style solid gold hands and encases an F Piguet automatic perpetual movement with a power reserve modification. This piece is no beginner collector’s watchbut rather a specialist collector’s. A Perpetual Calendar collector in fact One who wants the rarest pieces exhibiting this excellent complication. And at around 90k EUR, this is no last minute shopping trip purchase.

Frederique Constant Perpetual Calendar Moonphase

Frederique Constant Perpetual Calendar Moonphase

The second Perpetual Calendar watch on the list is the new in-house movement from Frederique Constant. This relatively young manufacturer (founded 1988) has big ambitions and is making some bold moves. In 2015 they brought out the controversial “Horological Smart Watch” and now they have really surprised people – a fully in-house movement Perpetual Calendar for under 10k EUR!

And…what really impresses us is that they made it in steel. Now, the watch clearly doesn’t come with the same level of material use and craftsmanship in the case and dial as the Reference 3, but what a fantastic achievement for the brand. This certainly is a contender for a collector’s complications shelf, especially if they are hesitant to start with one of the bigger, heritage brand pieces.

All in all, an exciting time for collectors and enthusiasts of Perpetual Calendars watches!