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6 Jul

What makes Annual Calendar so different from Perpetual Calendar?

In the realm of mechanical watches, the inclusion of calendar complication adds a new layer of distinction, functionality and sophistication. For those who are unaware, a calendar watch is any watch featuring a date, day, month and year. This can be a simple day-date or date function or something more complicated like annual and perpetual calendars.

The wearer needs to regularly adjust a calendar watch to ensure its shows the correct date. The watches reset after every 24 hours, but since our months have varied numbers of days, the watchmakers developed a unique solution so you don’t have to constantly adjust the watches.

They created two most popular calendar complications, namely Perpetual and Annual Calendar to combat having to change the dates every month. While they may sound similar, there are key differences between the two. But before we shed light on the differences, let’s find out what each of them means and how they work.

What is a Perpetual Calendar watch?

A Perpetual Calendar watch displays the day, date, month and year on the watch. The watch is intricately designed to take into account even the leap years to adjust the date accordingly. You do not have to regulate the watch until 2100 as it automatically calculates the difference between February’s 28 days and 29 days (leap year) and months with 30 and 31 days. In short, the perpetual complication automatically adjusts itself.

How does the perpetual calendar complication function?

This sophisticated movement has a mechanical memory, allowing the wheel, levers and gears to rotate every four years which further drives the calendar date to change as per the month’s length. It doesn’t need any manual intervention. Not only it can do this, but this impressive mechanism also indicates the moon phase and highlights the leap year indicator.

The Perpetual Calendar’s mechanism incorporates the complexities of the Gregorian calendar and is known as the ‘Grand Complication’. Until 2100, the perpetual watch needs no adjustment which is when the next leap year will be skipped. So, on March 1st, 2100, the watch with a perpetual calendar complication will need to be opened and readjusted by a professional. 

What is an Annual Calendar watch?

An Annual Calendar type of complication is more simplified displaying the date, day and month, and requiring minimal adjustment. All you need to do is adjust the watch once a year when February turns to March to ensure it runs smoothly throughout the year. The annual calendar automatically adjusts the date by adjusting the 30 and 31 days of a month. However, this movement doesn’t account for the leap years and will require manual intervention every four years on March 1st.

How does the annual calendar complication function?

Being the more user-friendly complication, the annual calendar mechanism simply sits on a wheel that rotates each day and displays the date through an aperture. No complex mechanisms but a more accessible and innovative complication.

Difference Between Annual & Perpetual Calendar

Looking at how both the complications work, here’s a list of all the distinct differences:

It requires manual adjustment on 1st March every four years as it does not account for the leap years.It automatically adjusts for the leap years, ensuring accurate timekeeping.
Requires manual adjustment once a year at the end of February. It is easily accessible & user-friendly.More complex mechanism involving multiple gears, components and gears to accurately track the date.
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Best Annual Calendar Watches to invest in 2023

  • Rolex Sky-Dweller Ref: 326135

The Rolex Sky-Dweller is one of the most complicated timepieces ever built by Rolex. The Ref. 326135 not only features an annual calendar but also showcases a second-time zone using the inner ring. There are 12 apertures around the dial indicating the months, with the current month marked in red. The date display is positioned at 3 o’clock and is linked to the local time zone. The stunning design and the complex functionality of this timepiece make it a standout choice.

  • Patek Philippe Ref: 5396R

    Patek Philippe launched the elegant 5396R to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its original annual calendar released in 1996. The watch features a stunning rose gold case with a silvery opaline dial featuring gold-applied hour markers that never go out of style. The dial indicates the date, day and month which requires correction once a year. The watch has a sleek design with the shiny chocolate brown alligator strap sitting closely to the wrist.

    • IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar Ref: IW5035

    Featuring a simple yet elegant and beautiful complication is the IWC Portugieser Ref: IW5035. The watch has an easy-to-read dial display featuring the month, date and day of the week at 12 o’clock. It boasts a 7-day power reserve which can be easily traced by the sub-dial at 3 o’clock.

    Best Perpetual Calendar Watches to invest in 2023

    • Patek Philippe Grand Complications Ref: 5270/1R-001

    The Patek Philippe Grand Complications Ref: 5270/1R-001 is a beautifully balanced timepiece featuring a rose gold case that seamlessly blends with the ebony black sunburst dial with gold-applied hour markers. The dial appears neat, displaying the day and month at 12 o’clock, an analogue date display with the moon phase at 6 o’clock. It is fitted to a rose gold Gouette bracelet, ensuring the Patek Philippe creation oozes luxury.

    • Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Perpetual Ref: Q149842A

    A captivating feature of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Ref: Q149842A is its moon phase. While the dial of the watch showcases three sub-dials, index hour markers and a moon phase, the perpetual calendar remains easily visible. At 12 o’clock, you could see the month and on the inside of that is the year. At 3 o’clock is the day window, at 9 o’clock is the date display and at 6 o’clock you can find the 29 ½ moon phase. The wearer has to adjust the month, day and date with the help of the pusher at 8 o’clock.

    • A.Lange & Sohne Datograph Perpetual Ref: 410.032

    It’s not difficult to fall in love with the A. Lange & Sohne Ref: 410.032, housing both the Perpetual Calendar and flyback chronograph. The timepiece features a prominent date window positioned at 12 o’clock, which can be activated using the pusher located at 10 o’clock. In the case of the Datograph Perpetual, the crown needs to be pulled out in order to adjust and synchronise the day of the week indicator positioned at 9 o’clock. You can see the month at 3 o’clock along with the chronograph 30-minute register. There’s a small leap year indicator just below the month display. Lastly, the moon phase at 6 o’clock adds parity to the width.


    This was all you needed to know about an annual calendar and a perpetual calendar watch. Choosing between either of them ultimately depends on your personal preferences and admiration of horological complications. If you value simplicity, an Annual Calendar watch may be for you. On the other hand, if complex and exquisite craftsmanship appeal to you, you might want to invest in a Perpetual Calendar. So, go ahead and pick your ideal choice!

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