When thinking about calendar watches, people mainly focus on two different types: the complete calendar and the perpetual calendar. Strangely, most immediately think of the simplest and the most complicated versions, however they seem to forget the annual calendar. This is a rare, rather complicated, and very practical calendar that takes into account the months with 30 or 31 days, meaning it only needs adjustment once a year in February. And when you add this complication to a chronograph, the candidates are even less common! In fact, the chronograph with annual calendar is less common than its perpetual calendar cousin.
Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P
We can’t start talking about annual calendars without first considering a Patek Philippe, as the brand was the inventor of this complication in a wristwatch, back in 1996 with the Ref. 5035. The Annual Calendar Chronograph ref. 5905P was introduced at Baselworld 2015 as the successor of the well-known ref. 5960 – the first Patek Philippe with an automatic chronograph movement. The new 5905P retains the legible annual calendar display, with three windows for the day, the date and the month, as well as a new and cleaner 60-minute counter at 6. This new version is more refined, more luxurious and is offered with a black or blue dial.
Zenith Type 20 Annual Calendar Chronograph
With this edition of the Type 20, Zenith mixes a highly complicated display with the vintage and sporty feel of its aviation watch. A large case, cathedral hands, and antique numerals are combined with a legible display for the calendar, with the date at six, day and month at three). The movement, which will require only one adjustment a year (at the end of February), is based on the iconic El Primero. A landmark in chronograph movements, in 1969 the El Primero was the first integrated automatic chronograph movement that ran at a high frequency of 5 Hz (36,000 beats per hour). In fact, till this day it remains one of the handful of high frequency chronographs.
Breitling Navitimer 1461 Chronograph
With this watch, Breitling sets itself apart from all other annual calendar watches! While most annual calendars are accurate for 364 days a year, the Breitling will only need one adjustment every 1461 days. That means once every four years, because it takes into account the months of February with 28 days. The only thing this watch won’t do is adjusting for February 29th, which only happens in leap years. In that sense the Breitling Navitimer 1461 Chronograph is very close to a perpetual calendar. This accurate calendar mechanism is combined with a chronograph, in line with the long tradition of pilot watches by Breitling, in the iconic Navitimer case. Calendar indications are displayed inside the chronograph sub-dials and a moon-phase is added.
Richard Mille RM 011
Most people tend to forget about the complications behind the RM 011, as they are mainly focused on the trademark Richard Mille design and the chronograph function. However, this sporty and technical watch also includes a large date feature at 12 o’clock and the indication of the month, discreetly displayed on a skeletonized ring in between four and five. Overall, this watch is far more complicated than just being a chronograph as it also includes an annual calendar, enhancing its technical credentials.