Perpetually On Time
An introduction to one of the most celebrAted “fAmilies” in horology: PAtek PhiliPPe’s PerPetuAl cAlendArs
Patek Philippe is known for having produced some of the most complicated timepieces the world has ever seen. Among the many intricate horological complications that the Swiss brand offers, perhaps the one most associated with it is the perpetual calendar—which is also one of the most subtle yet immensely useful complications.
Before we continue, perhaps a primer on the perpetual calendar is in order. As the name suggests, this complication keeps track of the day, date, month and sometimes the phases of the moon too in perpetuity. Well, at least, a perpetual calendar watch would not need to be manually adjusted—mainly to take into account leap years which add an extra day to February—within our lifetime. Most perpetual calendars will remain correct until the year 2100 when the leap year is ignored (this is actually a little-known fact about the Gregorian calendar) and some will even remain accurate until the year 2400.
Now, the perpetual calendar is not an invention of Patek Philippe. That honor belongs to English watchmaker Thomas Mudge who created the first perpetual calendar watch—a pocket watch, actually— back in the 18th century. The Swiss brand, however, caught up in 1864 with its own perpetual calendar pocket watch. And in 1925, Patek Philippe became the first to create a perpetual calendar wristwatch.
In the decades to follow, the brand would become closely associated with perpetual calendar watches— especially perpetual calendar chronographs. And for sure, Patek Philippe has produced quite a few such timepieces that have become important milestones in the history of the brand and watchmaking in general. Here are some of the most prominent timepieces from this family...