What Is a Perpetual Calendar Watch?


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What Is a Perpetual Calendar Watch? Cover

A perpetual calendar is a high-end type of complication that is found in a lot of different watch manufacturers’ timepieces. A perpetual calendar watch has the ability to showcase and track several measurements of time with high accuracy.

A perpetual calendar watch tracks seconds, minutes, hours, lunar phases, days, months, and even in some cases leap years.

The major difference between a perpetual calendar watch and a traditional watch that keeps track of days, for instance, is the ability to understand what month it is and know the number of days in each one. 

It is a highly sought-after bit of engineering and the mechanics of the timepiece are revolutionary. Every perpetual calendar watch is a little different and each manufacturer will have a slight variation on the way they design their watches and in turn the complications.

You may not think having a calendar on your watch is that impressive or unique, and you would be right, however, there is a key difference….

A typical calendar watch always goes up to 31 days, therefore normally at the end of a month that is shorter than this (I.e. February, April, June, September, November), the watch will be incorrect until adjusted. 

Having a watch that needs to be changed every couple of months can be a little tiresome, and this is part of the reason the perpetual calendar watch came about.

How Does a Perpetual Calendar Watch Work?

A perpetual calendar watch is a marvel of artistry and the inner workings of the timepiece are truly inspiring. Despite there being nuances between different models and watchmakers, the core principle of a perpetual calendar is the same.

Due to the nature of a perpetual calendar watch it does not need to be adjusted until, at time of writing, about 78 years, in the year 2100. That’s a pretty big sale’s pitch for anyone wanting to always have an accurate watch.

A perpetual calendar timepiece has a huge amount of moving parts to accurately tell the time and collect the different information. 

The watch uses a form of memory, so it can determine information by understanding when it is and what days, months and cycles are happening in the future. 

A perpetual calendar watch will typically have a completely separate set of mechanisms within the watch that are not directly linked to the time hands. Obviously, they are part of the same broader device but are surplus to a standard watch setup. 

History of Perpetual Calendar Watches 

View of the Se-Gull M199S Chronograph manufactured by Tianjin Seagull Watch Group
Image Credit: Martell via Creative Commons

A perpetual calendar is a type of watch complication that has been around since the 18th century. There is some debate over the exact date when they came into the mainstream, but it was a long time before they were seen a lot more commonly.

The core concept has stayed mostly the same, with some adjustments along the way, but broadly speaking, the watch has kept that essence from the original design. Which makes the initial creation even more impressive.

A lot of people will incorrectly mistake a perpetual calendar watch with just a standard watch that keeps the date or even a chronograph due to the additional dials, but they are massively different. There was a renaissance in the last couple of decades with perpetual calendar watches booming in popularity again.

In the modern watch environment, a perpetual calendar watch is still a popular variation and complication. Although there has been some tinkering with the external designs and the ability to make watches sleeker, the internal parts have kept a mostly similar structure.

Popular Perpetual Calendar Watches

As we have alluded to above, there is still a good variety of perpetual calendar watch options available to watch enthusiasts and they remain a timeless design and style, even after all this time.

Patek Philippe – Grand Complication 

Patek Philippe - Grand Complication 5271P
Patek Philippe – Grand Complication (Image: Patek Philippe)

Possibly one of the most, if not the most iconic perpetual calendar timepieces and a contender for the best watch manufacturer, we would be remiss to not include a Patek Phillipe in our list.

The Grand Complication collection has a massive variety of perpetual calendar watches in a lot of different colours and styles. 

This classic black and silver model is one of the most traditional looking perpetual calendar watches available from Patek. The alligator strap paired with the silver and black accents and face make up a watch for formal or informal occasions.

Patek has been a market leader in the luxury watch industry for a long time and with a range of timeless high-end timepieces, it is not hard to see why.

Audemars Piguet – Royal Oak 

ROYAL OAK PERPETUAL CALENDAR Ref. 26574BA.OO.1220BA.01
Audemars Piguet – Royal Oak (Image: Audemars Piguet)

Audemars Piguet is renowned for the ability to create incredibly intricate and beautiful timepieces and the Royal Oak perpetual calendar watch is no exception to the rule.

Although there are a few versions of the Royal Oak, the one that encapsulates the style the best in our humble opinion is the gold and navy version.

The contrast of the gold bracelet, against the navy face creates a luxury feel and makes the timepiece stand out. The addition of the “Grande Tapisserie” design on the face adds another layer of intricacy and aesthetic. 

The watch even has options for matching cufflinks that look stylish and tie an outfit together, a dark suit with this watch and cufflinks would make anyone look like the Count of Monte Cristo!

L.U.C. – Perpetual Chrono 

L.U.C PERPETUAL CHRONO 45 MM, MANUAL, TITANIUM
L.U.C. – Perpetual Chrono (Image: Chopard)

Chopard is at the apex of Swiss watchmaking, creating luxury timepieces with meticulous and professional attention to detail.

The pairing of the grey calfskin leather strap with the titanium case makes for a unique and professional-looking perpetual calendar timepiece. 

The choice of strap gives a slightly different feel to a traditional black strap and showcases the innovation of the L.U.C. range whilst still keeping the overall tone and style in line with the Chopard brand.

The matte silver face contrasted against the navy blue on the lunar calendar gives the timepiece a little extra unique flair and showcases the fact it is a perpetual calendar watch, creating a conversation starter with fellow watch enthusiasts.