Perpetual calendar watches: leaping into the future

The perpetual calendar, known as Quantième Perpétuel in French, is a watch complication that displays the day, the date, the month and the year, taking leap years into account. Frank Sans C showcases what this complication can do through the example of four remarkable watches.

By Chloé Redler

Audemars Piguet, Glashütte Original and IWC all have their own version of the perpetual calendar. These spectacular watches all gathered on the set of Frank Sans C, who dedicated his latest video to this comprehensive – and impressive – watch complication. It displays the day, the date, the month, as well as the year, while taking leap years into account. No manual adjustment needed until the year 2100. Why? Well, 2100 is supposed to be a leap year, but it won’t be, due to a technicality in the Gregorian calendar.

Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet

A scintillating dial

Like the Royal Oak before it, the Code 11.59 collection has become a playground for the innovative minds at the Audemars Piguet workshops. This perpetual calendar version is a shining example of their genius.

The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Perpetual Calendar associates a white gold case and a blue aventurine dial.

The bleeding edge of poetry in motion. The astronomical moon phase at 6 o’clock, displaying breathtaking realism, was made using a laser engraving technique and only needs adjusting every 122 years. It is perfectly showcased by the dial of the watch: deep midnight blue, crafted in aventurine. This material dates back to the 17th century and was first created in a glass factory in Murano, Italy. As the legend goes, copper filings were accidentally dropped in cooling molten glass, creating tiny sparkling particles. Nowadays, this technique is achieved by introducing black copper oxide and cobalt into molten glass, resulting in a night sky effect. The hypnotising dial also features date, day and month counters, placed at 9, 3, and 12 o’clock.

Cracking Code 11.59

This latest variation of the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet has a 41mm diameter case, crafted in white gold. Of course, it also includes all of the collection’s signature characteristics.

The starry night of the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet catches the eye.

The design of the watch is a subtle nod to the Royal Oak, with its round case and double curved sapphire crystal, providing a stunning view of the dial. This is enhanced by the extra-thin bezel and stylised lugs. This remarkable instrument is powered by a perpetual calendar automatic manufacture calibre, which can be seen through the sapphire case back. It features a rose gold oscillating weight, and all of the traditional trimmings: Côtes-de-Genève, microbead blasting, satin brushing, polished chamfers, etc.

Price: €98,100

Technical specifications:

Functions: perpetual calendar, day of the week, date, astronomical moon, month, leap years, hours and minutes.
18-carat white gold case
Double curve glareproofed sapphire crystal
Glareproofed sapphire case back
Water resistance: 30m
Case thickness: 10.9mm
Blue aventurine dial
White gold hands and hour markers with luminescent coating
Blue lacquered inner bezel
Blue textured rubber strap lined with calfskin leather, 18-carat white gold unfolding clasp


IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Dubail Edition

This IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar watch is a Dubail exclusive.

A true watchmaking tour de force, the IWC perpetual calendar is adjusted via a single oversized crown. This idea came from the mind of master watchmaker Kurt Klaus, who developed the piece in the 1980s. What makes it so special? Every indication of the complication changes with a single impulse. This requires tremendous energy, which is why this fine instrument, 44.2mm in red gold, is powered by a Pellaton automatic self-winding movement. The calibre contains a rotor that moves in both directions to wind the barrel, ensuring optimal performance of the power reserve at all times. A power reserve indicator over seven days is shown at 3 o’clock. Another feature of the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Dubail Edition: a 4-digit year indication, displayed between 7 and 8 o’clock. This edition is limited to only 25 pieces and is a Dubail exclusive.

Price: €48,800

Technical specifications:

Case: 44.2mm in red gold
Automatic movement
Water resistance: 30m
Functions: moon phase – power reserve indicator – perpetual calendar
Dubail special edition


IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar

Now for a steel version: the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar boasts an impressive 46.2mm diameter. The date and power reserve indicator are displayed at 3 o’clock, the month at 6 o’clock, and the day of the week and the small seconds hand at 9 o’clock. Unlike its counterpart described above, this edition also features a double moon phase (northern and southern hemispheres) visible at 12 o’clock. This pilot’s perpetual calendar is available on a blue calfskin leather strap which enhances its sporty look.

The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar displays a double moon phase.

Price: €33,900

See our technical specifications for the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar.


Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar by Glashütte Original

Glashütte Original is not often mentioned in discussions about exceptional timepieces, which is a pity. The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar is such a remarkable object, crafted according to the values of German watchmaking: subtle and pared down to the essential.

The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar by Glashütte Original features filigree decoration, sophisticated mechanics and fine finishes.

The 42mm steel watch contains an extra-thin bezel, providing great visibility to the subtly textured, cream-coloured dial and blued steel hands. A moon phase features between 6 and 7 o’clock, a power reserve indicator is displayed at 12 o’clock, while the day of the week and the month appear at 10 and 2 o’clock respectively.  There is also a Glashütte Original signature Panorama date aperture (see our video and our article on the Big Date complication). Now, let’s talk mechanics. This watch is a testament to the brand’s extensive range of expertise: manufacture calibre with a power reserve lasting over 100 hours, delicately openworked rotor, filigree decorations. This edition, available on a dark brown Louisiana alligator leather strap, is limited to only 100 pieces.

Price: €36,600

Technical specifications:

Self-winding movement, 36-12 calibre
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, second stop, perpetual calendar with day of the week, month, leap year display, moon phase, Panorama Date
Frequency: 28,800 VpH (4Hz)
100-hour power reserve
Case: 42mm, steel
Case thickness: 12.8mm
Galvanised cream-coloured dial
Blued spade hands
Sapphire crystal, glareproofed on both sides
Sapphire case back
Dark brown Louisiana alligator leather strap


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