Annual vs Perpetual Calendar Watches

A popular complication found on watches is some form of a calendar function. This can be as simple as a date or day-date! Most timepieces that contain this function require adjustments to ensure the correct date is displayed. However, they will reset after completing 31 24-hour cycles which represents a full month. Since our calendar includes leap years and a varying number of days per month, tracking can sometimes get quite complicated. So to help track the calendars more accurately, watchmakers developed two advanced complications; annual and perpetual calendars. While the two appear similar in looks, there are key differences which set them apart. If you want to discover what these are, and see recommendations for each, keep reading for our guide on ‘Annual vs Perpetual Calendar Watches’.

What is an Annual Calendar Watch?

An annual calendar watch includes a complication that displays the day, date and month on the watch dial. They require minimal adjustments, as they automatically update based on 30 and 31 day months. However, to ensure that the correct date is always displayed, they must be adjusted once per year at the end of February. But you may be wondering, why February? This is because February is the shortest month, and contains a leap year every 4 years, which the complication is unable to account for. During the other 11 months of the year, the movement will automatically adjust between 30 and 31 days.

How Does an Annual Calendar Work?

The annual calendar complication sits on wheels that rotate each day and are displayed through an aperture on the dial. The month wheel has 12 teeth to account for each month, with 5 longer teeth representing the 30-day months. These cause the mechanism to rotate an additional time and skip the 31st day when it is not needed. Moreover, the weekday wheel continuously rotates by one tooth per day. This is so the correct day is always displayed.

What is a Perpetual Calendar Watch?

Perpetual calendar watches contain a complication that advances the day, date and month automatically without adjustment. They take into account 30 and 31-day months, as well as leap years and the shorter month of February. This is because perpetual calendar watches know the year, and without mechanical failure, will run accurately until 2100! For even more functionality, many perpetual calendar watches also contain additional complications like a moonphase and a leap year indicator.

How does a Perpetual Calendar Work?

Intricate and complex, the movements powering a perpetual calendar use wheels, gears and levers to calculate the four years to display the correct date. Accounting for the leap year, one of the wheels will rotate fully only once very four years. Whilst each watch is different, more often than not, perpetual calendar watches will have a separate mechanism for each the day, date and month. A long lever, known more formally as the grand lever, synchronises each of the mechanisms;; moving forwards and backwards depending on the month length. This causes different wheels to move and the correct date will be displayed as a result.

What are the Main Differences between Annual vs Perpetual Calendar Watches?

The main difference between annual and perpetual calendar watches is whether or not they have to be manually set every year. However, there are a few other distinct differences as well. Perpetual calendar watches do not require manual adjustment until 2100, therefore they have a higher price tag. As well as this, perpetual calendar watches feature complex mechanisms that are made up of hundreds of parts. Hence they tend to retail at a higher price point compared to annual calendar watches.

Annual vs Perpetual Calendar Watches: Our Recommendations

Annual Calendar Watches

Frederique Constant Classics Quartz Chronograph Triple Calendar (40mm) Silver Dial / Stainless Steel FC-296SW5B6B

Through this model, Frederique Constant has breathed new life into classic watchmaking. For a more modern and contemporary finish, the matte silver dial features applied silver baton indices as well as grey and black hands. A unique feature of this watch is a date track that surrounds the perimeter of the dial. The black hand, with a red pointed tip, aligns to the correct date, while two apertures below 12 o’clock showcase the day and month. A sapphire crystal encases the dial, so the levels of both durability and clarity are excellent. Moreover, a high-quality 40mm stainless steel case surrounds the dial. Within this case lies the FC-296 quartz movement which powers the timepiece. Using 13 jewels, it comes equipped with hours, minutes, seconds, month, date, day pointer, and most importantly a chronograph. A five-link stainless steel bracelet concludes the elegant design of this annual calendar timepiece.

Orient Multi-Year Calendar Mechanical (43.5mm) Green Dial / Stainless Steel RA-BA0002E10B

This model captures the creative watchmaking style of Orient perfectly. The green dial, with a sunburst finish, features large gold-tone dauphine-style hands and three-dimensional gold-tone baton indices as well as a date aperture at 3 o’clock. However, while these features are all of great importance, the most impressive is the intricate multi-year calendar. Showcasing the last 2 digits of the years and months at 12 o’clock, and matching the day and date at 6 o’clock, the calendar is valid for more than 20 years! A hardened mineral crystal protects the dial while a brushed stainless steel case frames the dial. Measuring 43.5mm in diameter, and with minimal complications, it emanates a timelessly stylish feel. The exhibition case back, protected by a mineral crystal, allows the wearer to observe the F6D22 automatic movement which powers the timepiece. Furthermore, a five-link stainless steel bracelet completes the design of this Orient.

LONGINES Master Collection | Annual Calendar | Men’s Swiss Automatic L29104926

A classic design accentuated by a 42mm stainless steel case, this Longines exhibits a sunray blue dial. Sleek and stylish, the dial is complemented by silver applied indices and silvered polished hands. An annual calendar has been added to this model, so the dial also features a month and date aperture at 3 o’clock. And thanks to the rotating wheels involved in this complication, the correct date is always displayed. To ensure great durability, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protects the dial. Moreover, a sapphire crystal also protects the exhibition case back. Through this, the wearer can observe and enjoy the L897 automatic movement that powers the timepiece. A stainless steel bracelet with a triple safety folding clasp and a push-piece opening mechanism concludes the design of this model. Emanating sophistication and elegance, this Longines is ideal for those searching for a more luxurious annual calendar watch.

Perpetual Calendar Watches

Junghans max bill MEGA Solar | White Dial | Red Vegan Apple Fibre Strap 59/4325.02

Combining minimalistic style with maximal function, this Junghans is suited to those seeking an accessory that is accurate, detailed and represents true craftsmanship. Placing sustainability at its core, the white dial features luminous dots at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock as well as silver hands that are coated with an environmentally friendly luminous substance. In addition, the dial also exhibits red Arabic indices for a precise second display and a date aperture at 3 o’clock. Domed sapphire crystal, with an anti-reflective coating on both sides, protects the dial; so clarity levels are excellent. Furthermore, a 38mm stainless steel case surrounds the dial and its transparent case back features a sun motif. Continuing with the theme of sustainability, a red vegan apple-fibre strap secures the watch. Powered by a state-of-the-art radio-controlled solar movement with a perpetual calendar and easy time zone adjustment, in terms of functionality, this watch excels!

Citizen Men’s Radio Controlled Eco-Drive Perpetual Calendar Chrono A-T Two Tone CB5894-50E

Featuring Eco-Drive technology, this Citizen is not only sustainable but also extremely functional. The black chronograph dial, with gold accents, exhibits three sub-dials and a date aperture at 3 o’clock. A tachymeter bezel and a stainless steel case frame the dial. Measuring 43mm in diameter, it encases a solar-powered quartz movement, and for superior accuracy, the watch is radio-controlled using atomic clock synchronisation. It is also equipped with world time in 24 cities, a perpetual calendar and a power reserve indicator. A two-tone silver and gold stainless steel bracelet completes the design of this Citizen and provides great security; it fastens with a fold-over clasp. With up to 200 metres of water resistance, around 6 months of power when fully charge and a perpetual calendar that does not need adjusting until 2100, this Citizen is perfect for frequent travelers. Especially those who are constantly on the move!

Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar Titanium (47.5mm) Black Dial / Blue Synthetic Grained Cowhide Strap T1214204705106

If you’re after a connected watch with a perpetual calendar and other impressive complications, then this Tissot is the one for you! As the name suggests, this model is powered by a solar quartz movement and can operate for six months on a single charge. Solar panels are incorporated into the watch, so the dial is essentially one piece of photovoltaic cell. Moreover, the dial features white markings for hours and minutes and the SuperLuminova-coated hands are skeletonised so they do not cover the digital display. A deep blue ceramic bezel and a striking 47.5mm titanium case surround the dial. Stylish and durable, both materials are built to last! The watch is secured with a blue textile strap; the strap front is made from grained cowhide and the strap back is made from syntenic. Furthermore, the watch is water-resistant up to 200 metres.

What did you think of our guide on annual vs perpetual calendar watches? Can you now confidently tell the difference between the two? Let us know in the comments!

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