Even though the high end watchmaking or as the French calls haute horlogerie started 500 odd years ago, it is quite unbelievable that a “simple” watch complication of displaying a date, as in an annual calendar, wasn’t achieved until about 25 years ago.
When do you need to reset an annual calendar watch ?
The watch with annual calendar complication displays the date correctly for months less than 31 days. The only time one needs to adjust the date is on the last day of February, as the annual calendar doesn’t account for 28 days in February and leap years. If the watch is not reset on the last day of February, the mechanism thinks of the February month as 30 days.
When was the annual calendar watches introduced ?
The watch calendar complications were introduced more than 500 years ago. The perpetual calendar watch mechanism was introduced in the 1762. The mass production of the annual calendar watches was started in the year 1996 by Patek Philippe. This was actually almost 476 years after the perpetual calendar watches were made.
The main reason why they were not introduced for so long could be that it could have looked like a step backward to the perpetual calendar. No one would have wanted to be associated with a technology which is backward compared to a fancy one. The good thing is that now almost all of the high end watch makers have introduced watches with annual calendars.
< Pictures of Breguet and Moinet >
Who introduced the annual calendar watches ?
None of this could have been possible without introduction and a patent in 1996 by Patek Philippe. The technology has been under continuous improvisation since it was introduced in 1996. Luckily, currently this mechanism has been used by the finest of watch makers across the world. This has not only made luxury watches more affordable, but also made a significant improvement in the horology by filling in the gap since the perpetual calendar was introduced back in 1762.
< Picture of Patek Philippe and also first annual calendar watch >
The main difference in the working mechanism of an annual calendar watch
One thing that worked in favour of the annual calendar as compared to the perpetual calendar was that its modular structure. Being modular, it can be kept pre assembled to be fit later into the casing of the watch at the time of final watch assembly. Additionally, the assembly technique is such that it can be done by less skilled watchmakers, compared to the skill level needed for the assembly of a perpetual calendar watch.
Is annual calendar watch still considered as a luxury watch ?
Annual calendar is now being available as a watch complication as an alternative to the perpetual calendar. It is relatively inexpensive compared to a perpetual calendar watch, but is still worthy of a casing of a finest luxury watch. Thus it is not available by all the watchmakers, but is available only by the high-end watch makers such as Breitling, Bvlgari, Patek Philippe, Zenith, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin and Ulysse Nardin.
< Pictures of some of the watches with annual calendar >