2 minutes

Perpetual Calendar – eternity on your wrist

By Christopher Beccan
Breguet Classique Perpetual Calendar

The Perpetual Calendar timepiece, a timepiece that has always fascinated me and this is not just because of its complexity but also because it is probably one of the most useful complications in watchmaking, not to mention just how charming it is to see it in action! Put simply, it is just a watch that will correctly display the day, date, month or year on your wrist perpetually (well, kind of), which is what most people would say but in my eyes it is so much more than that. In today’s modern world it may sound sort of ridiculous to spend unscrupulous amounts of money just so you can tell exactly what day, date, month or year you are in by one glance at your wrist (okay, maybe a bit more than just a glance), obviously also not forgetting the time. Yet we can do this very thing on a daily basis by merely glancing over at our Smartphones, in fact our phones don’t even need to be that smart to be able to display such a function.

Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Reference 2499
Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Reference 2499

This is just it, the majesty of a mechanical timepiece that can display this information to you is a beautiful thing. A mechanical timepiece that is able to consider date mathematics is just astounding and then to make things even more interesting you’ve got perpetual calendar timepieces that are accurate up to hundreds of years and only need a slight adjustment when they do need correcting. So consider just for a moment; a perpetual calendar timepiece that integrates day, date, month and year has to take into account the different length of months as well as leap years and then keep this level of accuracy so that generations later when your grandchildren are gazing into it, it still displays the correct day, date, month and year! But make no mistake there is a superabundance of gears that turn multiple times per second to only once every four years or even more that make it possible and on top of this, this is taking into account that you keep your watch wound (if automatic then a watch winder will come in very useful).

Now, typically perpetual calendars tend to be a bit dressier but over the years brands have introduced more casual pieces – giving you a wide range of timepieces to choose from. And if that wasn’t enough some even incorporate other useful complications such as chronographs (that for me are just as useful as perpetual calendars) and minute repeaters. That said, perpetual calendars tend to have quite hefty price tags attached to them. This is very understandable because each watch takes weeks or even sometimes months to make and only highly trained watchmakers are actually allowed to work on such pieces as they require delicate assembly.

But when all is said and done, despite the high price that may get in the way of owning a perpetual calendar timepiece the real question is this, can you really put a price on romance?

Vacheron Constantin Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
Vacheron Constantin Perpetual Calendar ChronographImage: Auctionata


About the Author

Christopher Beccan

Christopher Beccan is the founder of the online magazine "Bexsonn," where he regularly writes about his two passions: extraordinary timepieces and whiskey. His work …

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