Imagine a watch that provides you with not only the time, day, date, month and leap year indication, but will not have to be adjusted until the year 2100 - provided you keep it wound. Perpetual calendar watches are portable miniature calendars endowed with mechanical technology that can keep track of those months with 30 days, and even know when February will be greeting us with 28 or 29 days. This year has been action packed on the perpetual calendar front with proposals that go from the minimalism of H. Moser watches to the dizzying display of machinery in MB&F’s Legacy Machine.
H. Moser & Cie. has surpassed its own quest for perpetuating simplicity, and its revolutionary perpetual calendar watch, which we saw earlier this year, has met its match in the even simpler timepiece we will be seeing at the SIHH in January. The new Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Concept white gold watch is a study in minimalism, bereft of logo, numerals and small seconds counter, but totally H. Moser thanks to its gorgeous fumé dial. Featuring a big date window at 3 o’clock, the months are indicated by a small arrow-shaped hand in the centre of the dial. The power reserve indicator is at 9 o’clock and the leap year cycle is on the movement side of the case. The hand-wound movement, which can be viewed through the sapphire crystal caseback, has a prodigious power reserve of 7 days and, with a limited production of just 10, these watches for men are destined to become collector’s pieces.
The iconic eight-sided cases of these Audemars Piguet watches have been decked out in a splendid gold suit. The 41mm Perpetual Calendar Royal Oak features a hallmark blue-chequered dial, dotted with three counters for the calendar readings, a Moon phase aperture, and a handy week indicator on the chapter ring, proving that robust sports watches are not incompatible with the finesse of a perpetual calendar.
Glashütte Original from Germany offers a more traditional approach to the calendar complication with this 42mm red gold Senator model. The classic Roman numerals on the dial frame the four apertures revealing the day, month, Moon phase and typical Glashütte Panorama date window. To indicate a leap year, a red dot will appear just above the blue steeled hands.
Montblanc watches have been taking great strides, particularly the Heritage Spirit Perpetual Calendar Sapphire model presented at the Watches & Wonders salon. This 39mm red gold version marries classic details such as Roman numerals and circular counters for the calendar indicators, with a daring dash of modernity, exposing the entire movement through the smoky sapphire crystal dial.
I actually tried on the Legacy Machine Perpetual Calendar and met its maker - Irish theologian turned watchmaker Stephen McDonnell - at SalonQP last month. I can vouch that it is indeed a true work of genius. Unlike the more spaceship-inspired models that MB&F is associated with, these astonishing watches for men are contemporary classics in the making. Crammed with all sorts of innovative technical solutions, the aesthetic impact is very powerful. The subdials relaying the calendar information literally float above the movement with no visible attachment, and in pride of place the balance wheel whirls gracefully in a mesmerising ballet.