The perpetual calendar chronograph is a neat concept because it can measure intervals of time that range from the smallest feasible for a mechanical watch, an eighth or sixth of a second, right through to the four years of the leap-year cycle. The combination of these two classic complications creates complex, expensive watches. Only a few brands make perpetual calendar chronographs, and they all take their own approach to how to display the information on the dial. All these watches have chronograph movements with an additional perpetual calendar module. Here is a selection, in increasing price order.
1. IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month IW381701
The new IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month is a spectacular watch. One of the four new Ingenieur watches introduced in September 2017, this perpetual calendar chronograph is outstanding for its design, with the digital date and month displays within circular frames that resemble subdials. It is very legible, with a combined hour and minutes display on the subdial at the top that provides the most intuitive chronograph format. At the bottom, the year subdial shows years L (leap year), 1, 2 and 3. The case is large at 45 mm diameter and 17.4 mm thick, in red gold. It has an impressive 12 bar water resistance, provided in part by the screw-down crown. The 89801 movement is an in-house calibre based on the IWC 89800, which was introduced in 2009. It is basically a combination of the 89360 chronograph movement, integrated with the perpetual calendar. The movement has two notable features: the calendar is adjusted from the crown, so there are no caseband recessed pushers, and over the course of the month the movement gradually accumulates a small store of energy that is used when energy absorption is highest, at the end of each month, when up to five discs have to rotate simultaneously. The chronograph has a column wheel, and a sliding pinion instead of a vertical clutch, which reduces friction and balances forces so that balance amplitude remains constant whether the chronograph is running or not. IWC’s version of the perpetual calendar is different to most other versions of this complication, which generally have recessed pushers on the caseband to adjust the various date functions. IWC’s 89801 instead encodes the four-year cycle into the movement, so that you just have to turn the crown to adjust it. Price €52,300. Read more here.
2. Hublot Big Bang Chrono Perpetual Calendar
In 2015, Hublot presented their first perpetual calendar in a watch that also includes a chronograph and a moon phase display. The information is combined on the dial in a design that expresses complexity, with skeletonized movement visible beneath the sapphire dial. The subdials combine different functions and so the designers have used white hands for the perpetual calendar and red arrow-shaped hands for the chronograph. Correctors on the caseband are used to adjust the various calendar indications. The watch is powered by the self-winding HUB 1270 UNICO movement, which provides a power reserve of about 72 hours. It is basically the same UNICO movement that Hublot developed in-house for the Big Bang chronograph, onto which they have added a perpetual calendar module by Dubois Depraz. The titanium version costs 58,000 Swiss francs, about €53,600. Read more here.
3. Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono
Chopard’s L.U.C Perpetual Chrono has a unique design that gives it a lot of character. It’s normal that in this sort of complication, different functions have to be displayed on the same subdial, but Chopard have taken their own route. So the left-hand subdial shows chronograph hours and days of the week, but a small projection provides space for a small day/night indicator. On the right-hand subdial, the scales for chronograph minutes and months frame the leap year indicator. The chronograph minutes hand is jumping, which makes it easier to take a time reading. The chronograph hour hand is continuous. The moon phase is different to most in that the whole display rotates over the course of a lunar month. It is accurate to one day’s deviation in 122 years. The movement is based on a column-wheel chronograph calibre with vertical clutch, and it provides the flyback function. The platinum case is 45 mm in diameter and 15.06 mm thick, water resistance 3 atm. Price €101,710; also available in white or rose gold at €83,750. Read more here.
4. Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Chronograph Perpetual Calendar
Vacheron Constantin has redesigned one of its legends, the Traditionnelle Chronograph Perpetual Calendar, giving it a new movement, Calibre 1142 QP. It is available in two versions, platinum and pink gold, and it is surprisingly large at 43 mm in diameter, 12.94 mm thick, 3 atm water resistance. The dial sets out everything in an orderly fashion, ready to measure times from a sixth of a second right through to the four-year calendar cycle. Seconds are subdivided into thirds, corresponding to the 3 Hertz rate of the balance. Just outside this, there is the tachymeter scale. At 6 o’clock, there is a subdial for the date, with moon phase with two portraits, one smiling, one sad. Chronograph minutes at 3 o’clock, continuous seconds at 9 o’clock. Day of the week and month in two small symmetrical rectangular windows. The leap year indicator is curiously positioned in a window at top right. Calibre 1142 QP is a hand-wound movement whose chronograph mechanism, with its column wheel and horizontal clutch, is entirely visible through the sapphire caseback. The platinum version, reference 5000T/000P-B048 is priced at $150,000. Read more here.
5. Patek Philippe 5270R Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
The 5270 was first presented in 2011, in white gold and platinum, and this piece, 5270R in rose gold with silver-toned opaline dial, was launched in 2015. Most Patek Philippe watches reflect the idea of a practical timepiece, but this is something of an exception because the date subdial interrupts two of the three chapter rings, the seconds scale, and the tachymeter scale, sacrificed to make the date as legible as possible, with large, sporty numerals. The windows for day of the week and month are close together at the top of the dial, and everything is certainly clearly visible. The continuous seconds subdial is on the left, and the chronograph minutes subdial is on the right – it is instantaneous, so moving by one minute at the end of the minute. Below the two subdials there are circular apertures for the day/night indicator, and the leap year indicator. The case is a little larger than most Patek Philippe watches at 41 mm, thickness 12.4 mm. Water resistance is the standard 3 atm. The calendar indications are adjusted by correctors on the caseband: date correction at 11.30, month correction at 12.30, day of week correction at 10.00, moon phase correction at about 6.30. A special correcting stylus is supplied with the watch. The manually wound calibre CH 29-535 PS Q is based on Patek Philippe’s classic chronograph movement presented in 2009, with a perpetual calendar module. The chronograph has a column wheel and a horizontal clutch, so a traditional arrangement when compared to the vertical clutch, but it has been improved by patented gear tooth profiles. Price 145,000 Swiss francs, inclusive of VAT. Read more here.
6. Patek Philippe 5372 split-seconds chronograph and perpetual calendar
The Patek Philippe 5372 split-seconds chronograph and perpetual calendar, presented in 2017, has a circular platinum case, 38.3 mm in diameter, about 13.3 mm thick, water resistance 3 atm. The 5372 is superb in the clarity of the dial. The extra space gained by abandoning the tachymeter scale was used to increase the diameter of the subdials. The watch has the moon phase at 12 o’clock, accurate to one day’s deviation every 122 years, continuous seconds at 9 o’clock, and a 60 minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock. This is large enough to make readings of elapsed times feasible. At 6 o’clock, there is a subdial for the date. The rectangular window at 9 o’clock shows the day of the week, the window at 3 o’clock shows the month. At 4.30 there is a small circular window showing the leap-year cycle with numbers from 1 to 4, 4 being the leap year, and at 7.30, another circular window with a day/night indicator. The chronograph pusher on the crown is used to start, stop and reset the chronograph. The pusher at 2 o’clock is for the split-second function, which can be used for intermediate measurements such as a lap time. Recessed pushers on the caseband are used to correct day of the week (8.30), moon phase (10.30), date (12.00), and month (12.30). A stylus is provided with the watch to make corrections. The CHR 27-525 PS Q movement is hand-wound, with 476 components, 12 bridges and 31 jewels. The balance is relatively large, with just 2 arms and 8 poising weights. It runs at 21,600 vibrations per hour, 3 Hertz. Power reserve is minimum 38 hours, maximum 48 hours, without the chronograph running. The chronograph is operated by two column wheels, and new tooth profiles that reduce wear for the horizontal clutch. The watch costs 460,000 Swiss francs inclusive of 8% VAT. Read more here.
7. A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Mérite
This perpetual calendar chronograph watch, presented in 2017, has a fusée-and-chain constant force transmission, a tourbillon, a split-second chronograph, and a perpetual calendar. The argenté-silver dial has a fascinating complexity, with the largest amount of space dedicated to the one-minute tourbillon. Each of the subdials has two functions, day and 30 chronograph minutes counter on the left, month and leap year indication on the right, moon phase and date at the top. The seconds scale at the edge of the dial is divided into thirds of seconds, corresponding to the balance frequency of 3 Hertz, 21,600 vibrations per hour. The movement is housed in a 43mm case in platinum, 16.6 mm thick. The two pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock are the conventional chronograph pushers: the pusher at 10 o’clock is for the split-seconds (rattrapante) function. On the caseband there are recessed pushers for correcting the calendar indications and moon phase. This new movement has 684 parts, considering the chain of the constant-force mechanism as one part. The chain itself comprises 636 parts. The two column-wheels controlling the chronograph and split-second functions are visible through the sapphire caseback. Price €480,000. Read more here.