Another Friday, another Top 5! Last week, we highlighted some of the best recent Audemars Piguet releases. This week, we do not focus on a brand but on a style of watch. It’s a style that Audemars Piguet is no stranger to, by the way. We have recently seen quite a few impressive perpetual calendar watches. The complication in itself is already mechanical wizardry, but with the right aesthetics and style, we get watches that are among our favorite recent releases. Let’s find out more.

Making a list of recently released perpetual calendar watches is easy. Narrowing it down to our five favorites is a lot harder, though. There are simply too many to choose from. So we added an extra criterion to the list. We decided to create a Top 5 going from affordable to expensive. Just typing that out brings a smile to my face because “affordable” translates to “relatively affordable but still a substantial amount of money,” and “expensive” turns into “outrageously out of reach for mortals like most of us.” This is, of course, a result of the complicated nature of perpetual calendars and the high-end luxury brands that usually create them. It has created a wide range of prices for this list. But that’s enough talking; let’s get into our list.

Frederique Constant Highlife Perpetual Calendar

If you start your quest in the universe of mechanical perpetual calendars, the most affordable option mentioned is, almost without exception, the Frederique Constant Highlife Perpetual Calendar. With a price under €10K, it is a great option for people looking to combine the magic of a perpetual calendar with the style of a modern luxury sports watch on an integrated bracelet.

The Highlife collection debuted in 2020, and the Perpetual Calendar version was one of the first models introduced. Over time, the brand released several different variations in stainless steel and gold, nicely demonstrating the variation in presence.

The Highlife Perpetual Calendar has a 41mm case that is 12.65mm thick and 45mm from lug to lug. This three-part case features a nicely sculpted convex sapphire crystal and has a water resistance rating of 50 meters. Visible through the sapphire crystal on the case back is the automatic caliber FC-775 with an in-house-developed module for the perpetual calendar. As a result, in addition to the hours and minutes, the watch displays the date, day, month, leap year, and moon phase. The 26-jewel FC-775 operates at 28,800vph and has a 38-hour power reserve. You can find it in the regular stainless steel versions of the watch with a dark blue dial or a blue-gray dial for €9,150.

You could also opt for the recently introduced stainless steel Highlife Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar. At €26,995, it is still more affordable than the four other picks on this list, and it adds a tourbillon and looks super stylish.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar

Our next pick is the recently introduced, updated version of the classic Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar. A quick first glance might have you question what is new. But if you look closer, you will find that the designers at Jaeger-LeCoultre did an awesome job of subtly updating the design. Like its predecessor, the new case measures 39mm in diameter and 9.2mm in thickness. However, the designers updated the lug profile, making it slimmer and slightly longer for a more elegant overall presence.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar

They also updated the dial design with longer, slimmer indices and slightly different sub-dials and hands. I was pleasantly surprised to see the new design because it feels significantly more modern and relevant. What hasn’t changed is the layout of the perpetual calendar. The moonphase indicator sits at 12 o’clock, with the date sub-dial at 3 o’clock, the month at 6 o’clock, and the day at 9 o’clock. An additional window between 7 and 8 o’clock shows the year, and a small window located immediately above the center pinion indicates when not to adjust the movement.

An updated movement

Powering the watch is still Jaeger-LeCoultre’s in-house automatic caliber 868. While it is the same movement, it also has been updated. The latest version features a new escapement and pallets to reduce friction and use less energy. The result is an increased power reserve of 70 hours, which is nearly double the previous version’s 38 hours.

You can choose from four different models that each have a charm of their own. The first is a stainless steel version with a silver dial for €31,100. The second and third models come with a pink gold case and combine it with a dark blue or a beautiful eggshell dial. Both these models are €44,500, making them expensive watches, but they are relatively affordable in the world of perpetual calendars. Finally, for those who like some extra sparkle, the eggshell-dial model is available with a diamond-set bezel for €52,500.

Patek Philippe 5236P in-line perpetual calendar

Patek Philippe In-line Perpetual Calendar 5236P

Our next pick is the brilliant Patek Philippe 5236P that Thomas reviewed recently. While this in-line perpetual calendar is not exactly a new model, it is super impressive. Just look at the upper part of the dial, which indicates the day, date, and month in one line. It is such a satisfying display of elements that guarantees a clean and brilliant-looking dial design.

The watch first came out in 2021 with a platinum case and a blue dial. That was a beautiful combination in itself, but this year’s version combines the platinum case with a stunning “opaline rose-gilt dial,” or, as most of us would call it, a salmon dial.

The platinum case is substantial, measuring 41.3mm across, 48.6mm from lug to lug, and 11.07mm thick. It gives the salmon dial with its charcoal-colored hands and indices a lot of room to breathe. This stunning dial layout is a joy to behold. Located at 6 o’clock, you will find a small seconds sub-dial with an integrated moonphase display. On either side of the small seconds, you will find the day/night and leap-year indicators.

Patek Philippe 5236P in-line perpetual calendar

Lastly, as already mentioned, the calendar indications sit in a single line on the upper half of the dial under the brand’s logo. All the elements are placed inside the railroad-style minute track, which adds a ton of extra character. This watch comes fitted with a brown leather strap with a platinum buckle and has a price of CHF 120,000.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin

Early last year, Audemars Piguet introduced the ultra-thin titanium version of its 41mm Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar. As some of you know, this 200-piece limited edition is based on the RD#2 model released in 2018, which has become a favorite among Royal Oak fans. The watch became the world’s thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar watch.

While that original version was all platinum, the 2019 follow-up production model was made of platinum and titanium. The brand also changed the dial and removed the characteristic Tapisserie pattern from the dark blue backdrop.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin

Last year’s version was another evolutionary step regarding materials because it was made of titanium. The only exceptions were the white gold screws in the bezel. AP choosing titanium for the rest of the case and bracelet resulted in an ultra-slim 41mm × 6.2mm watch weighing only 75 grams.

Inside the case, you will find the AP’s in-house self-winding caliber 5133. It measures just 2.9mm thick despite the full-size central rotor. The movement consists of 256 parts, operates at 19,800vph, has 37 jewels, and offers 40 hours of power reserve. One year after the watch’s release, it still is as impressive as when it came out. The 200 pieces were sold for CHF 140,000 and were quickly spoken for. We completely understand why.

IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar

IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar

Our last pick, one of the standout releases of this year’s Watches and Wonders, is the brilliant IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar. Of course, we could have also opted for the regular Portugieser Perpetual Calendar, but this Eternal Calendar version of the Portugieser is truly special. IWC didn’t just develop an incredible, complicated new caliber but also a watch with a remarkable presence. Featuring transparent and translucent sapphire parts, the Portugieser Eternal Calendar is an absolute stunner.

IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar

Let’s start at the beginning and explain the idea behind the watch. The Portugieser Eternal Calendar is based on the principle of a secular perpetual calendar that automatically considers the Gregorian calendar’s complex leap year exceptions by skipping three leap years every four centuries. Robert-Jan made this easy to grasp by explaining that one part inside the watch makes one complete rotation every 400 years. As a result of developing this extraordinary movement, the watch does not need any corrections until the year 3999. To make the watch even more impressive, the moonphase display only deviates one single day every 45 million years.

IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar

The unique transparent look of the Eternal Calendar

This magic is provided by the newly developed in-house caliber 52460. The automatic movement operates at 28,800vph, features a Pellaton winding system, and, thanks to two barrels, has a seven-day power reserve. The caliber displays the date, day, month, year, and the perpetual moon phase on the dial side. In addition, it has a power reserve indicator integrated into the date display and small seconds as part of the day indication at 9 o’clock. The dial and sub-dials are all sapphire, creating a unique look.

The dial is made of sapphire with white lacquer and features a railroad minute track and rhodium-plated Arabic numerals indicating the hours. Additionally, the sub-dials are made of transparent sapphire with black numerals and text and a nicely executed minimalist moonphase indicator. The dial is combined with a 44mm platinum case that measures 14.9mm thick. This includes the box-shaped sapphire crystal, which emphasizes the watch’s transparent “open” look. This truly remarkable Portugieser Eternal Calendar comes on a black alligator strap and has a price of CHF 150,000.

A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold “Lumen”

A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold “Lumen”

Our bonus addition to this list is much more than a perpetual calendar watch. The A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold “Lumen” was introduced during Watches and Wonders this year and celebrates 25 years of Datograph. The timepiece combines a flyback chronograph with a precise jumping minute counter, a perpetual calendar, and a tourbillon with a stop-seconds mechanism. But this is no “ordinary” version of an exquisite timepiece. As if the technical wizardry weren’t enough, A. Lange & Söhne decided to use its proprietary Honeygold for the case and make the watch a special “Lumen” version on top of that.

This was not the first version of the watch that Lange created. In 2016, the brand released the first version of the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon with a black dial on a black leather strap. But this new 2024 version takes things to a different level. I wrote a lengthy introduction article that explains the watch in more detail. But even that does not do the watch justice. I could spend a lot of words on this watch, and I would still not get close to accurately describing what it’s like in real life. But for good measure, let me sum up some of the most important details.

Lange’s marvelous creation in specs

The watch has a Honeygold case that is 41.5mm in diameter and 14.6mm thick. Considering that it combines three major complications, that is an extraordinary accomplishment. On the right side of the three-layered case, you find the crown and two chronograph pushers, while on the left side, you will find the rapid-correction button at 10 o’clock. One click of this pusher advances all the calendar displays by one day. The case sides also feature separate correctors for the moon phase, the day of the week, the month, and the leap year.

The dial design is nothing short of brilliant. The characteristic Lange outsize date is located at 12 o’clock. From there, your eyes automatically turn towards the sub-dial at 4 o’clock with the month and leap-year indicators plus a 30-minute chronograph totalizer. Next, your eyes catch the moonphase display at 6 o’clock before you move on to the second sub-dial at 8 o’clock. It displays the weekday and day/night indicators along with running seconds. Encircling the dial is a ring holding the minute and tachymeter scales. With that many different functions and displays, the dial is surprisingly easy to navigate, especially considering that the Lumen version features a semi-transparent sapphire dial revealing the watch’s inner workings.

The caliber L952.4 consists of 684 parts

Responsible for all the horological sorcery on the front is the manufacture caliber L952.4. This column-wheel chronograph movement consists of 684 components, operates at 18,000vph, and has a power reserve of 50 hours. The movement is visible through the sapphire window on the back of the case, and it is nothing short of breathtaking. One cursory look at the architecture, the impressive number of parts, and the finishing is enough to understand that this is one of the watch industry’s most impressive technical achievements.

The Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold “Lumen” celebrates the Datograph in proper style. A. Lange & Söhne will produce 50 pieces of this extraordinary watch, which will sell for north of €600,000. The watch is extraordinary in price, design, and technical achievement, which is why it is the perfect bonus addition to our list of perpetual calendar watches.

A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold “Lumen”

Final thoughts on our favorite current perpetual calendar watches

There you have it — a list of six fantastic watches with perpetual calendars. Of course, we could have easily added another five or 10 watches to this list. That’s why I want to turn the question over to you. What are your favorite perpetual calendar watches? Let us know in the comments section, and we’ll see you next week for another Top 5 list!