5 Perpetual Calendars In Time For February 29, 2020 From Jaeger-LeCoultre, A. Lange & Söhne, Bovet, Habring2, And Parmigiani
The perpetual calendar is an excellent example of a complication outdated by (at least) a couple of decades. Yet perpetuals still know how to capture the attention of watch collectors and connoisseurs with their very complex movements, even if some components only jump into action once every four years.
And that time is now! Set your watches: nearly every perpetual calendar in operation is soon to complete its primary job (aside from displaying the time) by showing the correct date on the 29th of February 2020 – a leap year, which occurs only once every four years.
And never is February more mercurial than right now as it moves from February 29 (instead of February 28) over to March 1, which it does only once every four years. Well just about every four years (which is a subject for another day).
The perpetual calendar is often the perfect way for a watch manufacture to show off craftsmanship and ability – but how brands do this varies. Here are five very different perpetual calendars introduced in 2019 that perfectly illustrate the wide variety of examples.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Répétition Minutes Perpétuelle
The dial layout and blue enamel over guilloche countenance of this ultra-complicated masterpiece reminds us of the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Enamel introduced at SIHH 2019. But the cutout for the digital year and the “security zone” window just above the central axis of the hour and minute hands, along with the tricompax arrangement of calendar functions and slide on the side of the case, reveal that this is an even more complex perpetual calendar and one aptly introduced in time to celebrate the 2020 leap year.
The main layout difference from the Ultra-Thin is the moon phase, which is combined with the weekday subdial at 9 o’clock: this moon phase isn’t a disk that rotates behind a window as per usual, but a fixed engraving utilizing an indicator hand to slowly circle the subdial, providing an allusion to, rather than a precise indication of, a moon phase.
Keeping it wearable, this highly complicated watch comes in at a height just under 14 mm: the Master Grande Tradition Répétition Minutes Perpétuelle is thin enough not be thought of as a “thick” watch compared to some of the monster grand complications out there.
Due to its construction on three levels (base movement, perpetual calendar, and minute repeater) it could be thinner as a fully integrated movement, but considering it is three levels, and complicated ones at that, that height feels rather reasonable.
As the main time assembly is sandwiched in the center you get the best of both worlds: a clear view of awesome mechanics from the back and an automatic mechanism ensuring that the perpetual calendar doesn’t miss a day if you’ve left it on the dresser for 24 hours.
The Master Grande Tradition Répétition Minutes Perpétuelle comes in two variations: one with a simple silver grained dial with printed indexes and applied markers or the much more complex guilloche dial featuring amazing translucent blue enamel and applied subdials with loads of visual texture.
For a more in-depth review of this watch, including the specifics of the insane minute repeater, please see Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grand Tradition Répétition Minutes Perpétuelle: Hearing Is Believing (With Video).
For more information, please visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com/us/en/watches/master/master-grande-tradition-repetition-minutes-quantieme-perpetuel.
Quick Facts Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Répétition Minutes Perpétuelle
Case: 43 x 13.72 mm, white gold
Movement: automatic Caliber 950, rotor sandwiched between repeater and perpetual calendar mechanisms, 38-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, two spring barrels, 585 components
Functions: hours, minutes; minute repeater, perpetual calendar with day, date, month, year moon phases; security zone indication
Limitation: 30 pieces per dial variation
Price: CHF 225,000 with silver dial, CHF 250,000 with guilloche enamel dial
A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Langematik Perpetual
It doesn’t get much more classic than the Saxonia Langematik Perpetual from A. Lange & Söhne.
The movement, of course, screams craftsmanship of the highest order, but it is also automatic thanks to a micro rotor. When it comes to perpetual calendars, automatic movements make a whole lot of sense as they keep them “perpetually” wound and avoid the owner having to set so many functions all at once much more often.
However, it is not the movement alone that is so noteworthy: this watch’s proportions are also perfect. With a case diameter of 38.5 mm, it sits nicely on every wrist but also leaves a bit of strap visible from above.
The height of 10.2 mm is also downright perfect as it provides the watch with enough substance, but doesn’t hinder any arm movement. And it perfectly goes under a shirt cuff without even the barest whiff of struggle.
The dial layout is organized and classic, yet with enough Teutonic design elements to keep it interesting: the leap year indicator that cuts into the month subdial at 3 o’clock and the 24-hour indication that shares its space with the day and date subdial at 9 o’clock are two excellent examples.
The case made in the brand’s proprietary Honeygold in combination with the embossed outer ring and applied Roman numerals add to the watch’s classic feel.
For a more in-depth review of this watch, please see Three Perpetual Calendars Launched At SIHH 2019 From A. Lange & Söhne, Girard-Perregaux, And Vacheron Constantin.
For more information, please visit www.alange-soehne.com/en/timepieces/langematik-perpetual-honeygold.
Quick Facts A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Langematik Perpetual
Case: 38.5 x 10.2 mm, Honeygold
Movement: automatic Caliber L922.1 Sax-O-Mat; 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, three-quarter plate in German silver, three-quarter rotor, balance cock engraved by hand, 46-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds with zero reset; perpetual calendar with large date, weekday, month, moon phase, leap year, and day/night indicator
Limitation: 100 pieces
Habring2 Perpetual-Doppel Perpetual Calendar Split-Seconds Chronograph
The soberly designed and relatively affordable Habring2 Perpetual-Doppel – affordable in the sense that it combines two extremely complicated complications and was made by an independent watchmaker – is an extraordinary combination of perpetual calendar and split-seconds chronograph.
Habring2 unites these two complications in one timepiece in celebration of the independent watch brand’s fifteenth anniversary.
While a split-seconds complication is more than familiar territory for the passionate husband-and-wife team behind this Austrian independent – thanks in great part to Richard Habring’s time at IWC, where he developed that brand’s 1992 rattrapante system relying on cams instead of the more complex column wheels used until then – the perpetual calendar isn’t as much part of the bread-and-butter repertoire.
Which is why Habring2 sourced the calendar module from Dubois Dépraz to add to the in-house base movement and complicated chronograph assembly.
The Perpetual-Doppel is a labor of love, clearly visible in the details – and starting with the fact that it is manually wound, which allows the owner to see the beauty of the movement in its entirety through the sapphire crystal case back. Where we spy a few blued components, too, such as select screws and a few parts belonging to the chronograph structure.
For a more in-depth review of this watch, please see Habring2 Perpetual-Doppel Perpetual Calendar Split-Seconds Chronograph Hands On: A Large Celebration Of Being Small.
For more please visit www.habring2.com/en/collection/perpetual-doppel.
Quick Facts Habring2 Perpetual-Doppel
Case: 43 x 12 mm, Austrian stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Habring2 A11P in-house base caliber with Dubois Dépraz perpetual calendar module, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 48-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; monopusher split-seconds chronograph; perpetual calendar with day, date, month, leap year, moon phase
Bovet Récital 21
With the Récital 21, Bovet has created a watch where form and function come together in a perfect marriage.
At 44 mm, the Récital 21 is large – but surprisingly, it does not wear that large at all. As part of Bovet’s Dimier family of watches, the Récital 21 is fitted with regular lugs (as opposed to the unique pocket watch-style lugs of the Fleurier family), but they are perfectly curved, ensuring that the watch hugs the wrist in just the right way.
Its unique design is what really strikes the wearer, though. A design that is basically determined by the writing desk slope of the gold case – which is now used to house all recent Récital pieces – and the naked base plate with côtes circulaires decoration that forms the background of the dial as well as the view through the transparent case back.
All of the space is utilized and every detail has a role to play, either to indulge the senses or provide information.
The Récital 21 is a technically very accomplished watch with its perpetual calendar. The manual-wind movement offering a power reserve of five days coming from a single mainspring barrel is crafted in Bovet’s Fleurier manufacture with a particular eye for detail and a focus on refined finishing.
Bovet further amplifies its quest for quality by fitting this watch with a balance spring of its own design and manufacture: a rarity, even in the world of haute horlogerie.
The day, month, and leap year are indicated through windows on the front of the watch, but the date is shown by means of a retrograde hand that comes from underneath the dial, adding a delightful amount of depth and providing the owner with monthly, anticipation-filled delight to pass the time until the main event takes place on February 29.
For a more in-depth review of this watch, please see Bovet Récital 21: Exploring Dandyish Perfection.
For more information, please visit www.bovet.com/timepiece/dimier-recital-21.
Quick Facts Bovet Récital 21
Case: 44.4 x 15.5 mm, titanium or 18-karat red gold
Movement: manually wound Caliber 13DM05-QPR with patented coaxial seconds and a five-day power reserve; 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, five-day power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; perpetual calendar with day, retrograde date, month, leap year; power reserve indication
Price: 72,000 Swiss francs in titanium
Remark: 5-year warranty
Parmigiani Toric Quantième Perpétual Retrograde
Parmigiani has taken its strong Toric design and added complication displays for a perpetual calendar – surely one of the most challenging tasks for a watch designer.
Parmigiani did not take the conventional route, with the brand’s designers opting to forgo the classic configuration of subdials to display the perpetual calendar functions, instead making the day and month visible in two windows just underneath the horizontal axis of the dial. Rather unusual for the perpetual calendar style, but it works very well.
All the more so because the moon phase display comprising the only subdial here is not traditional: indeed, it displays the moon phase in both the northern and the southern hemispheres in a design that seems more modern than the overall design of the Toric might usually allow.
And it makes the overall design more dynamic.
The Toric Quantième Perpétuel Retrograde’s retrograde date is displayed on an arc that spans the top of the dial yet keeps a polite distance from the moon phase indicator, though not the barely noticeable leap year indicator at 12 o’clock.
This date arc not only makes visual sense with the design and the playful nature of the retrograde hand, it is also very legible.
For a more in-depth review of this watch, please see Three Times A Toric: Is Parmigiani’s First Model Also Its Best?
For more information, please visit www.parmigiani.com/en/watch/toric/quantieme-perpetuel-retrograde.
Quick Facts Parmigiani Toric Quantième Perpétual Retrograde
Case: 42.5 x 12.1 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber PF333, 50-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; perpetual calendar, moon phase in northern and southern hemispheres
Price: $64,100/CHF 69,000