It goes without saying: 2020 was far from an ideal year for most of us. Looking back, however, it was also a year that brought many noteworthy watch launches despite the huge obstacles posed by the pandemic and its effects on the world economy. As we look ahead hopefully to 2021, it’s time for our annual look back at some of those timepieces, in various popular categories. Today, we showcase the standout perpetual calendar watches that debuted this year.
Chopard’s L.U.C Perpetual T combines two of high horology’s most complex mechanisms — a tourbillon and a perpetual calendar — into a 43-mm case made of ethically sourced 18k white gold, a material that Chopard has been introducing steadily into both its watches and jewelry. Its copper-colored dial is also made of solid gold and decorated with a hand-engraved guilloché pattern that radiates not from the dial’s center but from the large date display at 12 o’clock. In addition to that big date, the dial features the month and leap year display at 3 o’clock; the tourbillon, with a polished steel bridge and small seconds hand, at 6 o’clock; and the day-of-the-week and day-night display, at 9 o’clock. The timepiece’s sophisticated engine, sophisticated engine, Chopard’s L.U.C Caliber 02.15-L, stores an astounding nine-day power reserve in four barrels thanks to Chopard’s patented Quattro technology; the the indicator for the power reserve is on the back of the movement so as not to overload the dial. Click here for more details.
Frederique Constant’s biggest news of 2020 was the re-release of its Highlife collection, which originally debuted in 2000. For the most complex timepiece in that revamped series, the brand installed its first in-house perpetual calendar movement, Caliber FC-775, into the 41-mm barrel-shaped Highlife case. The calendar functions of the Highlife Perpetual Calendar Manufacture are set and adjusted via inset buttons on the case: The button near 5 o’clock advances the moon-phase display (at 6 o’clock on the dial), while another near 8 o’clock is used to set the date of the week. A button at 10 o’clock advances the day and date (indicated on subdials at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock, respectively) simultaneously. Finally, the button near 11 o’clock adjusts the month and the leap year (elegantly arranged on the subdial at 12 o’clock) at the same time. The movement measures just 6.7 mm thick, beats at 28,800 vph, holds a power reserve of 38 hours, and consists of 191 parts, including 26 jewels. To explore the entire Highlife collection, click here.
Greubel Forsey’s seventh “Invention Piece,” the QP à Équation, debuted in a new version with an 18k rose gold case and chocolate-colored gold dial. The watch is driven by a movement equipped with an ingenious mechanism that Greubel Forsey calls a “mechanical computer” — a sub-assembly within the 624-part caliber partly inspired by the systems used in large astronomical clocks since the end of the 15th century. Its mechanical “brain” consists mainly of rotating, co-axial coded elements in an arrangement complemented by a system of programmed movable sections. Depending on its geometry and speed of rotation, each element generates its own indication in a cyclical, pre-programmed way. In this manner, the mechanical computer can display all the indications of the perpetual calendar, each generated by its own co-axial coded element — date, day, month and four-digit year — along with seasons, equinoxes, solstices, and the equation of time. Despite its immense complexity, the watch is surprisingly simple to operate, with all its indications controlled by a single selector set into the movement’s winding crown. For a more detailed look at the watch’s functions, click here.
The MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual EVO, which ushered zirconium into watchmaking for the first time, may well be the toughest and sportiest MB&F watch to emerge from founder Max Büsser and his team of watchmaking “Friends.” Zirconium is a silvery gray metal that is lighter than steel and more durable than titanium, and its aforementioned combustibility makes it very dangerous to machine. The watch’s 44-mm case is made of this material, which is prized in biomedical circles for its hypoallergenic and anti-microbial properties, and imparts a water resistance of 80 meters, a first for an MB&F watch. Another new element in this evolution of the LM Perpetual calendar is the “FlexRing” annular dampener, fitted between the case and the movement, which offers exceptional shock resistance along the vertical and lateral axes. The movement itself, designed and developed in cooperation with Irish independent watchmaker Stephen McDonnell, is built entirely from the ground up — no base caliber, no module — and designed with many of its most visually stunning elements on the dial side, including its large suspended balance. Click here to delve deeper into the LM Perpetual EVO and its innovative movement.
Combining perpetual calendars with chronographs is a Patek Philippe specialty — few other watchmakers even venture into that high-horology territory — and one of the standouts is the Ref. 5270, housed in a yellow-gold case for the first time in 2020. Its silver opaline dial, with gold leaf hands, hosts day and month in windows below 12 o’clock, subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock for elapsed minutes and running seconds, and a combined analog date display/moon-phase at 6 o’clock, flanked by day-night and leap-year indications. A tachymeter scale occupies the dial’s outer edge. The manufacture movement inside, Caliber CH 29-535 PS Q, combines a complex split-seconds chronograph device, with six patented innovations, with an ultra-thin calendar mechanism — just 1.65 mm thick, yet made up of 182 parts. Check out all of Patek Philippe’s high complications for 2020 by clicking here.