As we approach the end of 2019 and prepare for 2020 — surely destined to be another interesting year in the world of watches — we take a look back at some of the most noteworthy timepieces that came out this year, in various popular categories. Today, we wrap up our 2019 retrospective with six outstanding examples of that most complex of high complications, the perpetual calendar.
After teasing the concept at SIHH 2018, in June Audemars Piguet unveiled the production version of the Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, the world’s thinnest automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch at just 6.3 mm thickness. The 41-mm case is made from satin-brushed titanium fitted with an anti-glare sapphire crystal and a bezel in polished 950 platinum much like the Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin 15202IP from last year. It is fitted with a sapphire crystal caseback and a titanium screw-down crown, and is water-resistant to 200 meters. The satin-brushed titanium bracelet has polished 950 platinum links and a titanium folding clasp.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? Apart from the fact that it took home the coveted Aiguille d’Or grand prize at the 2019 Geneva Grand Prix? Caliber 5133 is just 2.89 mm thick! This was achieved by reducing the number of stacks on the movement from three modules to one. The pursuit of engineering a single level movement from a three-storey one while keeping it efficient was not an easy one. It took Audemars Piguet five years of research and development to come up with the required solution. More photos and details are available here.
Baume & Mercier’s Clifton Baumatic Perpetual Calendar sees the addition of a perpetual calendar module to the base Baumatic movement, which was first introduced last year. The Baumatic movement is notable for its 5-day power reserve, anti-magnetic properties, and lengthy service intervals (it can run up to seven years without any need for service). Encased in a 42-mm-wide satin-finished red gold case, this watch is just 12.1 mm thick and features short curved lugs and a domed, anti-glare sapphire crystal.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? It’s not often that you see a perpetual calendar wristwatch with the attributes of a modern movement like the Baumatic at a relatively affordable price. This is a formidable movement — lengthy power reserve, anti-magnetic, accurate, with long service intervals — in a classically designed gold-cased watch, all at a price of $24,500. Click here for our full report on the watch from SIHH 2019.
Blancpain launched in 2019 a new Villeret Quantième Perpétuel 6656 model in platinum that will be exclusively available at its 30+ official brand boutiques worldwide. Limited to 88 pieces, the new watch is nicely sized at 40 mm by 10.7 mm and features an attractive sunray blue dial with registers at 3, 9 and 12 o’clock, along with a moon-phase display at 6 o’clock and a central seconds hand that glides above the white gold Roman numerals. The watch is powered by Blancpain’s manufacture 5954 automatic caliber that offers up a 72-hour power reserve to complement its moon-phase and QP functionality. The movement features a solid gold rotor and a silicon hairspring.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? The high-complication timepiece also features a proprietary Blancpain invention that enables the calendar hands and moon-phase to be adjusted by simply pressing the small levers located underneath the lugs on the back of the case, preserving the watch’s streamlined character.
Jaeger-LeCoultre pulled out all the stops at SIHH 2019 when it unveiled the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel, the Swiss maison’s latest multi-axis tourbillon. It combines a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater with Westminister chime, and a constant force mechanism to ensure a steady supply of power to the escapement.
The watch has a 43-mm white-gold case with sandblasted flanks and a highly polished narrow bezel. The deep blue grand feu enamel dial (also available as a silver dial), is bordered by a grained silver band that houses the engraved date ring. The perpetual calendar’s indications – day, month and date – are placed in harmony across the enamel dial.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? “It’s the best of the Gyrotourbillon, the best of the Minute Repeater, the best of the Perpetual Calendar – all the patents that we’ve received over the years – and yet miniaturized to the point where the watch is still wearable and elegant,” says Stéphane Belmont, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s heritage director. To learn more about what Belmont means, click here.
Parmigiani Fleurier introduced the most complicated model yet in its recently revived Toric collection, the Toric Quantième Perpétuel Rétrograde – a perpetual calendar with a retrograde date and an ultra-precise moon-phase. The watch features the Toric collection’s characteristic curved case with hand-knurled bezel, here measuring 42.5 mm and made of polished 18k rose gold. The crown is topped with a blue cabochon, while the dial is offered in two distinct versions: slate gray with a radiating pinecone guilloché effect and a white-grained finish achieved by a process that is exclusive to Parmigiani. Inside the case, beneath a clear sapphire caseback, is Parmigiani’s manufacture Caliber PF333, the self-winding movement that drives the timepiece’s array of timekeeping and calendar functions, including the prominent moon-phase aperture at 6 o’clock, executed on an aventurine disk with a starry sky motif and two moons representing both hemispheres.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? From a technical standpoint, the watch is a perpetual calendar with perks. It automatically adjusts the date to precisely the number of days in each month, including Februaries over the course of leap-year cycles, with a month-governing cam equipped with a planetary gear. Also, the precision of the moon-phase indication — only one correction required every 122 years — comes from a complex gear system built into the governing device integrated into the same module as the date calendar. Click here for more details.
Unveiled at SIHH 2019, this perpetual calendar from Vacheron Constantin claims to function closer to “in perpetuity” than any perpetual calendar that preceded it. The Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar, with its innovative and patent-pending mechanism, allows the user to switch the frequency of the movement from active mode, in which it beats at a speedy 36,000 vph (5 Hz), to standby mode, drastically slowing it to an energy-conserving 8,640 vph (1.2 Hz). A “mode selector” helps the user switch from one to the other.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? This is a major statement from the world’s oldest watch manufacture – a thoroughly modern idea for a much-vaunted complication that actually offers the end-user a practical benefit. To delve more deeply into this groundbreaking timepiece, read our coverage from SIHH 2019.