Every watch is capable of a simple yet incredible feat: tracking the intangible passing of time with its tiny levers, jumpers, and springs. The best of these mechanical pieces of art actually last a lifetime, justifying the fortunes that the most discerning invested in their prized collection. But more than just its economical value, a proper timepiece is a rite of passage that bonds fathers closer to his children.
From a small kid with superhero watches to a man inheriting a precious family heirloom, these well-made timepieces have the capacity to carry family history. With this view of handing legacies down to the next generation, it’s natural to seek a watch that is clever, complex, powerful, or durable enough to move on with time. And perpetual calendar watches are designed to do just that — forever.
Perpetual calendars always tell the correct days, months, and dates even on leap years. But due to a quirk in the Gregorian calendar, these watches do need minimal adjustment in February of every century that aren’t divisible by 400. So, if you inherited or are thinking of handing one down, you won’t have to worry as the next correction only has to be done in 2100.
From Patek Philippe to Audemars Piguet, we’ve gone through a handful of standout perpetual calendar watches released in the recent years. We chose these five pieces of grown-up wrist candy guaranteed to still be stylish for generations to come.
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Released this year, the reference 5320G is the latest perpetual calendar by Patek Philippe. This self-winding movement has a contemporary vintage look that features three-tier lugs and a lacquered cream dial, which is graced with luminous gold-applied numerals and hands. It also features double apertures that show day and month, with analog date and moon phase indicators. Inspired by Patek Philippe models from the 1940s and 1950s, a newly-developed caliber 324 S Q beats inside its 40mm white gold case.
It’s not only attractive, it’s also virtually unscratchable, impervious to high temperatures, and resistant to ageing. Despite being hand-finished in all black ceramic, this mesmerising work of art plays with light to reveal a “Grande Tapisserie” pattern on the dial. It features day, date, month, astronomical moon, week of the year, and a leap year indication. A glare-proofed sapphire crystal protects its black counters, white gold applied hour-markers, and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating as well as the mechanical excellence combined with quartz.
For 2018, Chopard has decided to celebrate the Chinese zodiac by upping its annual L.U.C XP watch releases one notch further with the release of a one-off piece called the Chopard L.U.C Perpetual T: Spirit of the Chinese Zodiac. It follows the tradition of the collection’s most high-end artisanal watches. Made of 18 rose gold that’s about 15mm thick, the entire case is hand-engraved with the 12 Chinese zodiac signs using the painstaking champlevé technique. It also features a number of complications, showing off a big date display at 12 o’clock, and month with leap year indicators at 3. The counter near 9 o’clock tells the hour while the 6 o’clock showcases perpetual calendar indications with a tourbillon that makes a rotation every minute.
It may be a bit large with a 41mm diameter, but this Vacheron Constantin perpetual calendar is rather thin. With its platinum case measuring only 8.96mm thick, it actually fits its 1120QP caliber heart, which beats to a 2.75 Hz frequency. The automatic movement can be seen at work through a transparent sapphire glass case back. Its face has a timeless appeal that’s made classy by an opaline slate grey, convex dial with circular pearl-shaped minute markers and platinum applied hour markers.
This Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Edition “150 Years” watch is a 45mm piece beauty that combines two watchmaking complications coveted by collectors — newly developed IWC in-house-made 51950 caliber and a tourbillon escapement. This makes it one of the most important IWC Portugieser released this year. A white dial with a lacquered finish shows off the the beauty of the 82-part tourbillon in all its glory as its display day, date, month, and moon phase indicators that are easily readable.