5 Fantastic Perpetual Calendars Perfect For February 29, 2020
Well, here we are in February 2020: a leap year. Which means that for the first time in four years we will have a February 29.
This is one of those times that has watch enthusiasts with perpetual calendars anxiously checking their watches for the leap from February 28 to 29 and then on to March 1, signifying that their precious timepieces were perfectly programmed and regulated for this special job occurring only once every four years.
Here are five perpetual calendar wristwatches perfect for watching the date “leap” into action.
Greubel Forsey Quantième Perpétuel à Équation
Containing Greubel Forsey’s seventh invention, “le computer mécanique,” a mechanism responsible for eight indications, this timepiece is a complete departure from all other perpetual calendars on the market today.
Greubel Forsey’s exquisite perpetual calendar can be quick-set both forward and backward; all functions – winding, time setting and calendar setting – are operated by a single crown (no pushers). And it happens to also feature one of my favorite complications: an equation of time indication on the back. In other words: user interaction perfected.
On the front we have the perpetual calendar date, day, and month in a beautiful and easy-to-read package. Flanking this group on the left at 6 o’clock is the leap year indication, which connects straight through to the rear of the movement where the indication also drives the digital year display.
Also on the rear is the equation of time with the season, solstice, and equinox display. The equation of time has its own sapphire crystal disk, while the season, solstice, and equinox are on a second sapphire crystal disk directly below that.
It is no wonder that this miniature computer took the honors in the Calendar category of the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
For more information, please visit www.greubelforsey.com/en/collection/qp-a-equation.
Further reading: Mechanical Computers From Then To Now: Greubel Forsey Quantième Perpétuel à Équation
Quick Facts Greubel Forsey Quantième Perpétuel à Équation
Case: 43.5 x 16 mm, white or red gold
Movement: manually wound caliber based upon Greubel Forsey’s seventh invention with a 24-second tourbillon at a 25-degree incline, 624 components, twin serially operating fast-rotating barrels, 72-hour power reserve, variable-inertia balance wheel, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; 24-hour indicator, power reserve indication; perpetual calendar with day, date, month, digital year, leap year; equation of time, season, solstice, equinox
Price: 670,000 Swiss francs
Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar Reference 57401G
Since its introduction in 1976, the Nautilus collection has offered a wide selection of timepieces in stainless steel, white and pink gold, and two-tone metals including useful complications such as chronographs – with and without GMT indication – power reserve indicators, moon phases, and an annual calendar. Superb high-jewelry executions have also been introduced over the years.
However, it was only at Baselworld 2018 that the popular Nautilus was introduced with a really serious complication: a perpetual calendar. And as to be expected from Patek Philippe, Reference 5740/1G-001 is extremely thin with a case height coming in at just 8.42 millimeters.
Thanks to Caliber 240 Q, Patek Philippe’s ultra-thin automatic perpetual calendar movement, the wonderfully balanced dial displays a classic tricompax subdial structure with the month and leap year at 3 o’clock, the moon phase – beautifully finished with silver stars and moon against a dark night sky – and date at 6 o’clock, and the weekday as well as the 24-hour indication at 9 o’clock.
Despite its modest proportions, the 240 Q includes an off-center micro rotor crafted in 22-karat gold to achieve the required energy to run this elegant workhorse movement, which is programmed to display the correct date until the year 2100.
For more information, please visit www.patek.com/en/collection/nautilus/5740-1G-001.
Further reading: Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar Reference 5740: Sophisticated, Sporty With A Story To Tell
Quick Facts Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar Ref. 57401G
Case: 40 x 8.42 mm, white gold
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 240 Q, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, power reserve 38 hours, Gyromax balance, Spiromax balance spring, Patek Philippe Seal, height 3.88 mm
Functions: hours, minutes; perpetual calendar with day, date, month, leap year, and moon phases, 24-hour indication
Jaquet Droz Perpetual Calendar Éclipse
One timepiece that keeps the romance alive is the Jaquet Droz Perpetual Calendar Éclipse. Not only does it display a slightly playful, though restrained, moon phase, it also features a full perpetual calendar with retrograde indications and is perfectly balanced.
Jaquet Droz Perpetual Calendar Éclipse on the wrist
As a fairly complicated piece from a historically classic brand famous for clean design, it holds true to what many would expect from Jaquet Droz, but holds nothing back in its exceptional execution.
There are many ways to display a perpetual calendar: subdials; date, month, and day windows; additional center hands pointing to the edge of the dial with subdials or windows; numbered disks; the list goes on. But none are as fun to watch as the retrograde indication.
Retrograde indications add an entirely new level of complexity to an already complex, um, complication. As more parts must be added to gain that retrograde movement, the retrograde perpetual calendar functions are indeed rare birds.
With two retrograde date indicators, this piece doubles the affair. On the right comes something that might be seen occasionally, the retrograde date hand. On the left is a retrograde day, a complication seen only rarely and usually not implemented so exquisitely. The two retrograde indications mirror each other in beautiful symmetry.
Another typical function of a perpetual calendar is the moon phase, but in many cases it will also be just a wheel outfitted with two moons slowly rotating. The Perpetual Calendar Éclipse features a retrograde moon phase function as well, but not in a usual way: it has a white disk, the same color as the dial, that is on the end of an arm that functions as an indicator hand.
This hand slowly passes the white disk from left to right over the top of a sculpted gold moon face over a full lunar cycle. Once it reaches the far right, it snaps back to the beginning to start its journey anew, right at the peak of the full moon.
Anybody who has compared a lacquered dial to an enamel dial understands just how rich and inviting a dial comprising that traditional material can be. The depth of the color, or simply the depth of white or ivory enamel, can seem to go on for miles. Like this one.
For more information, please visit www.jaquet-droz.com/en/watches/astrale/perpetual-calendar-eclipse-ivory-enamel.
Further reading: The Moon Of Your Heart: Jaquet Droz Perpetual Calendar Éclipse
Quick Facts Jaquet Droz Perpetual Calendar Éclipse
Case: 43 x 13.2 mm, 18-karat red gold
Movement: automatic Caliber 5853LR.4 with twin spring barrels, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 68-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; perpetual calendar with retrograde date, retrograde day, month, leap year, retrograde moon phase
Breguet Marine Équation Marchante Reference 5887
At Baselworld 2017 Breguet presented the Marine Équation Marchante Reference 5887, a fantastic implementation of a running equation of time combined with a perpetual calendar and the company’s signature tourbillon, making for a highly impressive mechanical watch.
The perpetual calendar uses a sapphire crystal disk to display the months of the year; it rotates one position each day, making a full rotation every 365 days (366 during a leap year like this one).
Impressively, the equation of time cam and sapphire crystal month disk are mounted coaxially to the tourbillon underneath, juxtaposing the long term with the short term.
The tourbillon is technically awesome as well: the cage is ultra-light titanium and the hairspring is silicon, plus the escapement features a silicon escape wheel and pallet lever. The tourbillon cage pivot extends through the sapphire crystal month disk into a bridge spanning the large dial opening.
Moreover, the date indication is a retrograde hand that also rotates centrally with the minute and equation of time hands, adding to the complexity of the entire mechanism.
The day of the week and second month indications are mirrored on the top of the dial at 10:30 and 1:30 in small windows. Finally, on the lower left between 7:00 and 8:30 is a subtle power reserve indication, rounding out the complications of the 80-hour automatic 581DR caliber.
The automatic mechanism is another plus as it comprises a super-slim peripheral rotor sliding on precision ball bearings that allow full view of the incredible movement. In fact, the mainspring barrel and power reserve mechanism also utilize ball bearings for low-friction operation, pushing the movement capabilities further than Abraham-Louis Breguet probably could have imagined.
Despite all the complexity, the dial remains tame in comparison with the movement bridges seen on the rear, which have been entirely micro-engraved with an image of the Royal Louis, a ship of the French Royal Navy. This addition is an ode to Abraham-Louis Breguet’s appointment as chronometer maker for the French Royal Navy.
The entire presentation is a reflection on the history of Breguet and the talent the brand contains within in its ranks.
For more information, please visit www.breguet.com/en/timepieces/la-marine/5887.
Further reading: Breguet Marine Équation Marchante Reference 5887: Equating Time On The Run
Quick Facts Breguet Marine Équation Marchante Reference 5887
Case: 43.9 mm, platinum or pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber 581DPE with 60-second tourbillon, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, silicon balance spring, escape wheel and pallet lever, 80-hour power reserve, peripheral rotor
Functions: hours, minutes; running equation of time, perpetual calendar, power reserve indication
Price: $230,400 in platinum, $215,000 in pink gold
A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna
The Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna’s unique orbital moon phase is embedded in a view of the northern hemisphere on the back of this highly luxurious timepiece. Above and beyond that, though, it is the ninth most accurate moon phase in the world of wristwatches, accurate to one full day in 1,058 years according to Joshua Munchow’s list of The 10 Most Accurate Moon Phase Wristwatches Today.
And alongside 14 days of constant-force power reserve within the Terraluna’s beautifully finished caliber, this timepiece skillfully “hides” a perpetual calendar in plain sight on the regulator-style display on the front, where we find Lange’s characteristic large date for the first time in the Richard Lange family. The atypical timepiece also features small windows for the day and date as well as the leap year so skillfully integrated that you hardly recognize they are there.
This watch was a winner at the 2014 edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in the Calendar category, the same edition during which Walter Lange won the Special Jury Prize. You can learn about it in the context of its introduction by reading Give Me Five! Perpetual Calendars From SIHH 2014 and in the context of the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève by reading Reflections On The 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
For more information, please visit www.alange-soehne.com/en/timepieces/richard-lange-perpetual-calendar-terraluna.
Quick Facts A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna
Case: 45.5 x 16.5 mm, white or pink gold
Movement: in-house manual winding Caliber L096.1 with constant force escapement, remontoir spring produced in-house, twin spring barrels, 14-day power reserve, 787 components
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; perpetual calendar with date, day, and month, moon phase and position, 24-hour display
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As stunning as the Lange is, it’s just so thick.
Seeing as we’re looking at some very high-end pieces here, the Vacheron Twin Beat Perpetual is worth a mention. I’d rather it had a more traditional dial on it, though. But they’ll probably do that sooner or later.
The VC is a standout of 2019 to be sure! I wanted to highlight some older calendars here, though the oldest is only from 2014!
And they’re a great bunch to say the least.
I wonder if anyone agrees with me, but I think the most overlooked perpetual calendar is Omega’s Louis Brandt version.
Thank you for the enjoyable article. I’m partial to the Breguet – all that engraving/guilloche work is lovely.
I was in HK airport last month and, when trying on an IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar, was told that it was an ideal time to buy one because I could enjoy watching the date transition at the end of Feb.
While the Portugieser Perpetual is of relatively good value, I figure that the relative ‘enjoyment’ I would derive watching the date change would not equal the pain of a hole that large in my bank account…
Still, got to give the salesperson points for trying!
Clever salesperson indeed!
ALS is looks very poorly designed, too busy with overlapping hands
The perpetual from Ulysse Nardin is often overlooked. Interesting layout, good size and a decent price .
If money was no object mine would go to the P.P.
A nice text with beautiful watches reminds us that it is … LEAP YEAR 2020. All perpetual calendar lovers will feel happy about it. Five outstanding and beautiful watches. Showing us a Jaquet Droz is really nice because this famous brand and watchmaking company is not on list of many people today. “wie entzückend” … danke vielmals.
Ich finde die Jaquet Droz unglaublich elegant und reizvoll. I love all 5 of these watches, but the JD stands out for me as a supreme example of elegance in motion when it comes to these complicated calendar types.
No MB&F LM Perpetual? Vianney Antiqua?
I had to choose 5! But you can see what we’ve written on those beauties here https://quillandpad.com/2015/11/12/why-legacy-machine-perpetual-catapults-mbf-into-the-big-league/ and here https://quillandpad.com/2016/07/30/bought-vianney-halter-antiqua/