Sure, every smartphone today features multiple calendar applications: one glance at the screen will conveniently tell you the current date, day of the week, and month. However, the display on a mechanical wristwatch is much more sophisticated than these computer-generated depictions.
This was exactly the thought of the technicians at Patek Philippe some 25 years ago, long before we had telephone screens in our pockets. In the wake of rekindled interest in sophisticated luxury wristwatches, the time-honored Genevan manufacture developed a new generation of so-called “useful” complications suitable for everyday wear in the 1990s. Naturally, these became instant successes.
Perhaps the most celebrated among these is the annual calendar, which Patek Philippe introduced and patented in 1996. Its mechanism is not quite as predictive as the one driving the perpetual calendar, which keeps perfect track of all indications up to the year 2100, yet it reliably indicates the date throughout the year with the exception of the last day of February (and generally costs a lot less).
This makes the annual calendar much more practical than a standard (complete) calendar, which needs correction at the end of all months with 30 days or less – and most especially on March 1. The annual calendar, on the other hand, only needs correcting once a year at this time. For owners of this noble yet practical complication, making this adjustment marks a yearly highlight.
In celebration of the annual calendar, here are three exciting new models to kick off 2023 in style. Being able to effortlessly combine mechanical complexity with a sophisticated design that is as simple as it is functional is a key reason for Patek Philippe’s undisputed reputation as a leader in the world of haute horlogerie. Among the most recent examples of this know-how is the Automatic Flyback Chronograph with Annual Calendar in stainless steel that has been available since last fall alongside the editions in platinum with a blue dial and pink gold with a brown dial, which were respectively introduced in 2015 and 2019. Like the previous models, the trendy, sunray-brushed, olive-green dial of the new stainless steel variation stands out with its well-designed arrangement of indications that include the weekday, date, and month in three separate windows in the upper part of the dial. The lower part is occupied by a prominent subdial containing the 60-minute chronograph counter and day/night indicator (small dot above the “30”).
Tried-and-tested Caliber CH 28-520 QA 24H outfitted with column wheel and vertical clutch allows the chronograph hand to be used as a central sweep second hand. While this is not the brand’s most complicated movement, the sheer number of components – 402 – is proof of its technical complexity.