Most agree that Patek Philippe is the best watch manufacture in the business with an enviable history of world firsts in horology. Among their numerous innovations, two attributed to the brand are the perpetual calendar and the annual calendar. Let’s take a look at what exactly these two mechanisms are and compare the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar vs. the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar.
What are perpetual and annual calendar complications?
In watch-speak, a complication is any added functionality on top of time indication. Some examples include date, chronograph, alarm, moonphase, minute repeater, and many others.
The perpetual calendar is a highly complex complication that permits a watch to display the day, date, and month (and frequently the moonphase indication), while keeping track of leap years too. As a result, a perpetual calendar can indicate the correct date in perpetuity without the need for adjustments. Well, not technically in perpetuity, since there is the need for an adjustment on March 1, 2100, as that’s when the leap year will be disregarded. But since most of us will not be around then, a perpetual calendar watch will continue to accurately show the correct time and date without corrections during our lifetime.
Similarly, an annual calendar also displays the day, date, and month—and typically the moonphase too. While still very complex, an annual calendar does require hands-on adjusting once a year. This occurs on the first of March when the last day of February—be it 28 or 29—has to be manually pushed forward to 1.
The History of the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar
In 1889, Patek Philippe received a patent for its perpetual calendar mechanism for pocket watches. The company went on to use this innovation in numerous timepieces destined for European royalty and American industrialists.
In 1925, Patek Philippe created the unique piece, the No. 97 975—which is the earliest known wristwatch equipped with a perpetual calendar complication. Less than 20 years later, in 1941, Patek Philippe began production of their regular series perpetual calendar wristwatches. The ref. 1526 included the perpetual calendar mechanism while the ref. 1518 has both the chronograph and the perpetual calendar functions. This was the start of the dominance of the Patek Philippe perpetual calendar watch—a position the brand still enjoys today.
Throughout the history of the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar, the brand has manufactured models that quickly gained grail watch status. Particularly popular are the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronographs models.
The History of the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar
The annual calendar is a relatively new watch complication. In 1996, Patek Philippe was awarded the patent for the annual calendar and began producing their new type of calendar watch with the ref. 5035 in yellow gold.
In two decades, the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar has soared as one of the brand’s most coveted models. It has a similar aesthetic to the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar, but it is less expensive due in part to the once-a-year adjustment requirement.
In 2014, Patek introduced for the first time, an Annual Calendar Chronograph model. The platinum ref. 5690 boasted the in-house automatic Patek Philippe Caliber CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H. The stainless steel version of the ref. 5690 joined the catalog in 2014.
Pre-Owned Patek Philippe Perpetual and Annual Calendars
Since Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendars and Patek Philippe Annual Calendars are some of the most sought-after complication watches in the luxury watch market, they can be challenging to find used. However, at Gray & Sons, we are proud to have both pre-owned Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar models and secondhand Patek Philippe Annual Calendar timepieces available within our inventory of like-new high-end watches. If you are in the market for one of these iconic Patek watches, make sure to browse our collection HERE.