The perpetual calendar is one of the most complex and popular watch complications. Very few manufacturers even attempt to make this function. Each perpetual calendar is a piece of haute horlogerie. Patek Philippe produces especially popular models.
Watches with a perpetual calendar display the date, day, month, moon phase, and leap year. Thanks to their sophisticated mechanics, these timepieces are able to account for varying month lengths, including years with a 29th of February. Most perpetual calendars will require manual correction in 2100 because the leap year is skipped in the first year of every century, a phenomenon referred to as a "secular year." However, the leap year returns in every secular year that is divisible by 400, as was the case in 2000. Watches with a secular perpetual calendar can account for this 400-year exception. Manufacturers like Andersen Genève and Franck Muller have developed wristwatches with this extraordinary and extremely rare calendar function.
The perpetual calendar is one of the most complex complications. Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and A. Lange & Söhne are among the few brands that have perfected this function. What's more, they often combine it with other complications, such as a rattrapante (or double) chronograph or minute repeater.
|Model||Price (approx.)||Case material|
|A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, ref. 720.032||288,000 USD||Pink gold|
|Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar, ref. 5740||213,000 USD||White gold|
|Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, ref. 26574PT||200,000 USD||Platinum|
|A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar "Terraluna," ref. 180.026||174,000 USD||White gold|
|Patek Philippe ref. 5270||172,000 USD||Platinum|
|Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual, ref. 1303520||35,000 USD||White gold|
|IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, ref. IWC392103||25,500 USD||Stainless steel|
|Frederique Constant Slimline Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, ref. FC-775S4S6||8,100 USD||Stainless steel|
Patek Philippe offers several watches with a perpetual calendar in their Grand Complications collection. A few also feature additional functions, such as a chronograph or minute repeater. For example, the ref. 5207 boasts both a minute repeater and a tourbillon in addition to its perpetual calendar. There are windows for the day, date, and month, at 10:30, 12, and 1:30, respectively. The small seconds dial sits at 6 o'clock and also contains the moon phase indicator. Finally, a small window for the leap year display is located at 4:30. This white gold timepiece is mounted on a blue leather strap. You can call a never-worn ref. 5207 your own for around 873,000 USD.
If you prefer the combination of a perpetual calendar and chronograph function, you should take a closer look at the ref. 5270. This complicated timepiece displays the day and month in windows below 12 o'clock. There's also a 30-minute counter at 3, a dual pointer date and moon phase display at 6, and a small seconds at 9 o'clock. The platinum edition sells for about 172,000 USD new.
Perpetual calendar watches without any additional grand complications are much more affordable. The white gold ref. 5320G is one such timepiece. This watch has its day and month window at 12 o'clock, with the date and moon phase occupying a subdial at 6. What's more, you'll find a leap year indicator at 4:30 and a day/night display at 7:30. Gold Arabic numerals and dot indices mark the hours on the cream-colored dial. Furthermore, luminous material coats both the syringe hands and numerals. You can call this 40-mm gold watch on a brown alligator leather strap your own for between 64,000 and 80,000 USD.
The Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5159 has an especially classic design. It pairs Roman numerals with a guilloché dial and pear-shaped hands. The month display sits at 3 o'clock, across the dial from the day display at 9. Patek outfits this timepiece with a retrograde pointer date. There's also a leap year indicator at 12 o'clock and a moon phase at 6. Its 38-mm case is available in white, rose, or yellow gold. The yellow gold edition demands about 73,000 USD new and 53,000 USD pre-owned.
With a total of 12 complications, thePatek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon is one of this Genevan manufacturer's most complex timepieces. It is a true watchmaking masterpiece with its perpetual calendar, minute repeater, tourbillon, and various astronomical displays. These heavenly displays are found on the watch's reserve side and include a star chart, the phases and orbit of the Moon, and the sidereal time. Astronomers rely on sidereal time, and a sidereal day is roughly 4 minutes shorter than a conventional solar day. Patek's craftsmen painstakingly engrave the white gold case of the Sky Moon Tourbillon ref. 6002 by hand. Never-worn pieces require an investment of over 2.5 million USD.
The Patek Philippe Nautilus is one of the world's most highly coveted watches. In fact, the three-hand ref. 5711 in stainless steel is so popular that getting this model directly from the manufacturer requires waiting a number of years. Otherwise, you can expect to pay astronomical prices on the secondhand market.
However, the highlight of the Nautilus collection is the ref. 5740 with a perpetual calendar . This is also the collection's first model to feature a grand complication. Its white gold case measures 40 mm in diameter and an astounding 8.42 mm thick, which is extremely thin for a watch with a perpetual calendar.
The in-house caliber 240 Q ticks away inside this luxury watch. This movement provides the 5740 with its leap year indicator at 3, moon phase and date at 6, and combined day and 24-hour display at 9 o'clock. A blue dial underscore's this Nautilus' inherent elegance. This timepiece changes hands for around 213,000 USD new and 198,000 USD pre-owned.
You can save quite a bit by purchasing the Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5726 with an annual calendar. Unlike models with a perpetual calendar, these timepieces require manual correction once a year on March 1st. There's a window for the date at 6 o'clock, as well as day and month windows at 12. The moon phase display occupies the lower half of the dial and is combined with the 24-hour display. This stainless steel Nautilus costs just under 71,000 USD in mint condition. Pre-owned pieces sell for as little as 62,500 USD.
Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin make up the "Big Three" of the Swiss watch industry. The most famous Audemars Piguet model is by far the Royal Oak. This now-iconic timepiece debuted in 1972 and is the brainchild of famous watch designer Gérald Genta. Genta also designed the Patek Philippe Nautilus four years later.
There are many different Royal Oak models, from simple two or three-hand timepieces to versions with a chronograph, minute repeater, or perpetual calendar. Those with a perpetual calendar are available in gold, stainless steel, ceramic, or platinum. At 41 mm wide by 9.5 mm thick, these automatic timepieces are pleasant on the wrist. The RD#2 from 2018 is even thinner at 6.3 mm, making it the flattest automatic wristwatch with a perpetual calendar . This high-end timepiece costs roughly 204,000 USD. The thicker edition demands around 199,000 USD in platinum and 62,000 USD in stainless steel. You can purchase a pre-owned stainless steel model for about 60,500 USD.
Audemars Piguet launched the Code 11.59 collection in early 2019. In terms of design, these timepieces have entered uncharted territory. While the case appears round from above, from the side you notice that the middle section is actually octagonal. This series also contains a perpetual calendar model: the ref. 26394OR. Its rose gold case is 41 mm in diameter and 10.9 mm thick. A blue alligator leather strap with a rose gold clasp holds this timepiece securely on the wrist and perfectly complements the case and blue dial. There's also a pointer date at 3, a moon phase at 6, a day display at 9, and a leap year indicator at 12 o'clock. Plan to spend some 87,500 USD on a mint-condition piece.
Swiss luxury watch manufacturers Ulysse Nardin and Jaeger-LeCoultre are renowned for their innovation. While no longer in production, the Ulysse Nardin El Toro embodies this brand's daring nature. Each watch has both a perpetual calendar and a GMT function. Wide hour and minute hands tipped with luminous material glide around the dial. Due to their size, each hand is partially skeletonized. There's also a GMT hand with a broad, arrow-shaped tip. A stylized "12" dominates the upper half of the dial. Certain models also feature a "6" in the same font. Windows for the day and month sit in the center of the dial. There's also a date display at 1, a year display at 6, and a small seconds dial at 9 o'clock. The ref. 326-03 comes in 18-karat rose gold with a black dial and a stationary bezel made of black ceramic. Prices for this particular model range from 21,500 USD to 40,000 USD. Ulysse Nardin also produces perpetual calendar watches with more classic designs. Take the Classico Perpetual, for example. This timepiece pays tribute to Nardin's history of producing marine and pocket chronometers. The current standard edition, the ref. 333-900, has a tidy dial with the same display layout as the El Toro. Other classic features include a railroad minute track and delicate line indices. Blue tempered leaf hands complete this watch's timeless look. This stainless steel timepiece has a list price of 19,800 euros (approx. 22,000 USD). You can find pre-owned models on Chrono24 for around 17,000 USD.
Elsewhere in Switzerland, Jaeger-LeCoultre offers a wider range of perpetual calendar watches. For example, their Master collection is home to the 39-mm Master Ultra Thin Perpetual series. At only 9.2 mm thick, these timepieces do their name justice. The Ultra Thin Perpetual is available in stainless steel, pink gold, or white gold. There are also pink and white gold editions with diamond-studded bezels. Each version has a date at 3, a month display at 6, a year indicator at 7:30, a day display at 9, and a moon phase at 12 o'clock. Prices depend on the material and use of gemstones. Stainless steel models typically sell for between 15,000 and 18,500 USD. Gold pieces demand anywhere from 17,000 to 35,000 USD.
For something more exclusive, you should turn to the Master Grande Tourbillon Cylindrique Quantième Perpétuel. This striking timepiece comes in your choice of pink or white gold. The white gold model (ref. 5043480) has a midnight blue dial with white accents. On the other hand, the pink gold edition (ref. 5042420) features a white dial with black markings and rose gold applied indices. Both versions have the same dial layout. A year display sits within the dual month and zodiac sign indicator at 12 o'clock. The day and moon phase share a subdial at 3 o'clock, across from the pointer date at 9. However, this timepiece's true pièce de résistance is the cylindrical tourbillon at 6 o'clock. A sapphire glass case back offers a view of the movement's stunning rotor in 22-karat gold. The white gold edition costs about 115,000 USD in mint condition. The pink gold version is a rare sight on the pre-owned market.
German luxury watch manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne is second to none when it comes to the quality and exclusivity of their timepieces. Their catalog contains tourbillon watches, minute repeaters, rattrapante chronographs, and, of course, perpetual calendars. The Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar features decentralized displays and Lange's characteristic outsize date. There's also a retrograde day display and a small seconds with a moon phase. The current month is shown on the dial's outer ring. The pink or white gold case measures 41.9 mm in diameter and 12.2 mm thick. Be sure to have around 288,000 USD on hand for a never-worn timepiece.
The Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar "Terraluna" features a special moon phase display on its reverse side. This unconventional function shows the Moon's orbit, current phase, and relation to the Earth and Sun (represented by the balance wheel). The display's Moon takes 29.5 days to complete one orbit around the Earth, which itself performs one full rotation every 24 hours. This remarkable mechanism is so accurate that it only requires manual correction every 1,058 years.
Back on the dial, the Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar "Terraluna" indicates the hours, minutes, and seconds across three separate displays. There's also an outsize date, a power reserve indicator, and windows for the day, month, and leap year. When fully wound, this 45.5-mm timepiece will tick nonstop for 336 hours, or 14 days. The "Terraluna" is available in white or pink gold. The latter demands approximately 171,000 USD new, while the white gold edition changes hands for some 174,000 USD.
The International Watch Company (IWC) also produces several wristwatches with a perpetual calendar, including the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. As its name implies, this watch comes with a stopwatch function in addition to its impressive calendar. What's more, the chronograph features a flyback function. This complicated 43-mm timepiece is available in stainless steel, rose gold, or platinum. It has a date at 3, a dual small seconds and month display at 6, a year window at 7:30, and a day display at 9 o'clock. The moon phase display sits within the chronograph's combined hour and minute counter at 12 o'clock.
At around 25,500 USD, a new stainless steel edition is relatively affordable. Pre-owned pieces are even more budget-friendly at about 21,500 USD. Its rose gold sister model requires an investment of about 35,000 USD in mint condition. The platinum version is the most expensive and costs roughly 50,000 USD. You can typically save a few thousand dollars by purchasing a pre-owned model.
Perpetual calendar watches usually demand at least five figures. However, the Frederique Constant Slimline Perpetual Calendar Manufacture proves that that doesn't have to be the case. The Genevan manufacturer crafts this 42-mm timepiece out of stainless steel or rose gold and equips it with an automatic in-house caliber with a 38-hour power reserve. Like most watches with a perpetual calendar, the Slimline Perpetual Calendar Manufacture has displays for the date, day, month, leap year, and moon phase.
You can call the stainless steel ref. FC-775MC4S with Roman numerals your own for as little as 6,900 USD. The ref. FC-775S4S6 with indices sells for roughly 8,100 USD. Models with gold-plated cases sit in a similar price range. The ref. FC-775V4S9 in 18-karat rose gold is this collection's top model. Mint-condition pieces cost around 15,000 USD.
If you're looking for a perpetual calendar for under 1,000 USD, you should check out quartz-powered models. One option is the Seiko Premier Kinetic Perpetual Calendar. This timepiece's movement combines the best of quartz and mechanical watch technology and can run for six months off the wrist when fully charged. While it lacks a moon phase, there are displays for the day, date, month, and leap year. Prices for this watch range from 450 to 800 USD, depending on its condition. Tissot offers another affordable alternative in the form of the Tradition Perpetual Calendar. This 42-mm timepiece has retrograde date, month, and day displays. There's also a small seconds dial. Domed sapphire crystal protects the dial from the elements. Never-worn pieces start around 440 USD and are an inexpensive entry into the world of perpetual calendar watches.