Leap Year Which perpetual calendar?
The holy grail of watch complications, the perpetual calendar or QP (quantième perpétuel), opens the year 2020 with more variety than we have seen for two centuries. Abundant options, a plethora of choice: so how do we choose?
The most sporty
Let’s begin with a 100% action-packed motor-racing contribution from IWC. The 10-piece limited edition Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (ref. IW503003) is delivered with a matt black zirconium oxide ceramic case, and a dial in black carbon fibre. The markings picked out in Petronas emerald green – the colour of the racing team’s livery – ensure it won’t go unnoticed!
Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport © IWC
This highly disputed category entered a new era with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique Quantième Perpétuel. Its calibre 985 is driven by a flying tourbillon with a cylindrical balance spring, set inside a grade 5 titanium cage, with an imposing 14-karat gold rotor. The perpetual calendar displays announce the day, date, month and year with great clarity, plus there’s a moon phase.
Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel © Jaeger-LeCoultre
In 2019 Bulgari created the Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie Calendrier Perpétuel to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first Grande Sonnerie, created by Gérald Genta in 1994. This watch features a Grande and a Petite Sonnerie, minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar, moon phase, power reserve indicator and alarm, all on an openworked dial.
Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie Calendrier Perpétuel © Bulgari
The most unisex
A perpetual calendar for him and for her! Advances in watchmaking, paired with a return to more reasonable diameters, have heralded the advent of 39 mm models that can be comfortably worn by both sexes. This category includes a highly aesthetic contribution from Hermès, the Slim d’Hermès Quantième Perpétuel. On the dial, the numerals with their distinctive typography, designed specifically for the Slim, are elegantly legible. While the date, month, second time zone and leap years each have their own counters, a mother-of-pearl moon phase floats across an aventurine sky at 3 o’clock. The movement measures just 30 mm, inside its 39.5 mm case. This is timeless elegance, Hermès style.
Slim d’Hermès Quantième Perpétuel © Hermès
The pursuit of the extra-thin watch, kicked off by Piaget, with Bulgari close behind, was relaunched by Audemars Piguet and its Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel Extra-plat Automatique. It is the world’s thinnest. In order to fit into a movement that is just 2.89 mm deep, the perpetual calendar functions, which are normally assembled on three different levels, have been reduced to just one layer. The dial has also been updated from previous Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar models. The day, date and month counters have been enlarged to improve visibility, and a day/night indication has been added at 8 o’clock, opposite the leap year display at 4 o’clock. Interestingly, the dial no longer bears the “Grande Tapisserie” motif; instead, we have a satin-brushed blue finish that improves the watch’s legibility, as well as reducing its depth by a few precious microns!
Royal Oak Quantième Perpétuel Extra-plat Automatique © Audemars Piguet
The most affordable
If tourbillons have become more accessible, why not perpetual calendars? With prices starting at €7,995, Frédérique Constant is the undisputed leader in the affordable luxury sector. The Slimline Perpetual Calendar Manufacture, launched in 2016, has been redesigned this year. With its grey dial, applied markers, and movement decorated with circular Geneva striping and circular graining, this watch will need a single manual correction every 400 years. The first is due on 1 March 2100, thanks to a peculiarity of the Gregorian calendar.
Slimline Perpetual Calendar Manufacture © Frédérique Constant
In a similar vein, but with a gold case, there is the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic Perpetual Calendar, which starts at €22,000. The movement is the brand-new Baumatic, with an additional module supplied by Dubois-Dépraz. It offers a 5-day power reserve (compared with 38 hours for Frédérique Constant’s Slimline) and comes in a 42 mm case.
Clifton Baumatic Perpetual Calendar © Baume & Mercier
Another alternative is a manufacture movement from Chopard which, for a few euros more (€23,400), offers an in-house movement in a 43 mm case, with perfect legibility and close to three days of power reserve (65 hours), thanks to the company’s signature double-barrel system.
L.U.C Perpetual Twin © Chopard
The most bejewelled
Piaget’s Emperador Coussin Quantième Perpétuel Serti makes the most of the company’s dual jewellery and watchmaking expertise. It also has the distinction of being the one-millionth Piaget watch to leave the workshops of the manufacture. Released exactly 10 years ago, it was produced in a limited run of just 20. In addition to two retrograde displays (weekday and date), the watch is distinguished by a second time zone displayed on two hands in a counter at 8 o’clock, as well as a day/night indicator connected to the hour.
Emperador Coussin Quantième Perpétuel Serti © Piaget
The most feminine
And because we have to recognise that quartz has its advantages, our final choice is the 100% feminine sporty-chic QP by Longines, in the new VHP range. The latest model comes with a mother-of-pearl dial and a diamond-set bezel (€2,550), or in black mother-of-pearl sans diamonds (€1,260). There’s no day of the week or year, but at this price, with a precision of 5 seconds per year, who’s complaining.
V.H.P © Longines
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