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The birth of perpetual calendar timepieces saw the world solving one of the most common problems faced by horologists: doing away with the need to adjust the dial displays on a regular basis. Considered to be one of the most enchanting high complication functions, perpetual calendars can now track the time for us, going without adjustment for centuries. Here are four of our favourite perpetual calendar timepieces spotted as this year’s SIHH.
1. Tourbograph Perpetual ‘Pour le Merite’
A. Lange & Sohne
Inside the 43mm case of the Tourbograph Perpetual ‘Pour le Merite’, one finds the Lange manufacture calibre L133.1. This manual-wound movement, which offers a split-seconds chronograph and tourbillon, also incorporates a perpetual calendar, the first time the latter complication appears on the visionary “Pour le Merite” collection. As with its predecessor, this 1,319-component timepiece (€480,000) features a fusee-and-chain transmission, with the latter comprising 636 components alone. Another new introduction is a black-polished sculpted tourbillon bridge, which perfectly matches the curves of the aperture; the process of polishing required the creation of special tools and intense weeks of labour to achieve. A limited edition of 50 pieces is available in platinum.
2. Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic
Bursting on the scene this year is the darkly mysterious 41mm Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic (RM295,200). Ceramic, being virtually unscratchable, impervious to wear and highly resistant to thermal shock, is the material of choice. This timepiece required over 600 hours of R&D to develop, and takes five times long to machine and assemble over a conventional stainless steel Royal Oak due to the nature of ceramic. Within its lunar phase aperture one finds a photo-realistic moon, against a clear night sky.
3. Da Vinci Perpetual Calender Chronograph
Paying tribute to its Da Vinci heritage, IWC Schaffhausen updates its case to recall its halcyon years of the 1980s, when its round-shaped case manifested the zeitgeist. Evocative riffs on the new round case include diamonds and snazzy moon phase animations. On its 43mm 18k red gold Da Vinci Perpetual Calender Chronograph (SFr43,000), its 89630 calibre offers a chronograph for the hours, minutes and seconds. It also offers an accuracy on date telling up to 577.5 years, accounting for the leap years, with a divergence of just one day at the turn of each century (when the leap day is normally ommitted despite it being a leap year).
4. Celestia Astronomical Complication 36000
From the hallowed halls of les cabinotiers – the bespoke department of Vacheron Constantin – comes the Celestia Astronomical Complication 36000 (price on application). This 45mm timepiece marries astronomy and horology within a white gold case. Drawing from the maison’s own precedent-setting Reference 57260 – the world’s most complicated timepiece – a single master watchmaker took five years to create this. The outcome, after the extended labours, is 23 astronomical complications governed by three distinct gear trains; civil, solar and sidereal. The complexity in construction results in an incredible precision on the tide levels, sunrise and sunset times, as well as solstices and equinoxes. Six barrels offer a glorious three weeks of power reserve in this space-optimised reference, with the world’s first transparent celestial chart as its crowning glory.