As watch aficionados work their way deeper into the watch world and higher up the complication ladder, they may find themselves at an impasse. Expressly, basic calendar watches are not satisfying their horological hunger, yet perpetual calendars remain out of reach.
Enter, the annual calendar. For one thing, it’s the ideal middle-ground before “getting serious” and picking up a perpetual calendar. At the same time, it’s a fun and useful complication that makes for very interesting timepieces.
If nothing else, it’s an accessible and accurate mechanical calendar watch that garners respect from watch experts and neophytes alike. Accordingly, we will be reviewing it in the following sections:
- What Is The Annual Calendar Watch Complication?
- Annual Calendar vs. Perpetual Calendar: What’s The Difference?
- Best Annual Calendar Watches
We’ve included a list of our favorite 5 annual calendars, to which you can skip directly via the link above. Otherwise, stick with us to read through our full guide.
Best Annual Calendar Watches
- Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar Montre Ecole Ref. LCF025
- Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Regulator Ref. 5235/50R-001
- F.P. Journe Octa Calendrier Black Label
- Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantième Annuel Ref. 5071 1110 70B
- Omega Constellation Globemaster Master Chronometer Annual Calendar Ref. 188.8.131.52.06.001
The annual calendar complication, much like any type of calendar more intricate than a simple date, tends to lean towards the formal end of the style spectrum. Naturally, most of our picks fall in this formal watch category, with one of them completely opposite in style from the others.
Regardless, all of the brands manufacturing these annual calendars do so in unique ways, and by analyzing these superior timepieces, just about anyone will develop a deep appreciation for this classical complication.
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What Is An Annual Calendar Watch?
The annual calendar is the “next level up” from more straightforward calendar complications such as a day-date or simple date. Specifically, an annual calendar in its most basic form must accurately record and display the date as well as the month.
As a result, it needs to account for months with different quantities of days. Annual calendars will often also be accompanied by a day complication, making for timepieces with three apertures on their dials.
The fact that annual calendars tend to include a day can make it confusing when this function isn’t present. Even then, timepieces such as Rolex’s Sky-Dweller are annual calendars nonetheless.
Similarly, another common associate of the annual calendar is the moonphase. This is yet another example of a complication that is not necessary to be categorized as an annual calendar, but one that often elevates the overall class and elegance of the timepiece it accompanies.
What’s The Difference Between A Perpetual & An Annual Calendar?
Annual calendars and perpetual calendar can be considered close “cousin” complications, but there is a vital function that sets them apart.
Chiefly, a perpetual calendar must consider leap years, while an annual calendar does not. Although not always visible, the leap year indicator is what allows the former to account for years with fewer days. In this regard, the annual calendar is lacking, as it does not account for it at all.
In theory, a perpetual calendar would not have to be adjusted for the rest of the century, as long as it’s wound and running. On the other hand, an annual calendar would have to be corrected once every year at the end of the month of February.
Comparatively, a basic day and date watch will need to be adjusted around once every two months, as it doesn’t consider the number of days in a month at all. Ultimately, the annual calendar can proficiently serve as the happy medium between basic date watches and high-end perpetual calendars.
Annual Calendar Price vs. Perpetual Calendar Price
Aside from bridging the complexity gap, the annual calendar also often bridges the price gap.
Perpetual calendars tend to be very luxurious in their prices. Conversely, an annual calendar watch can be much more accessible to the consumer looking for an accurate mechanical calendar timepiece that is a step up from their regular “date only” watch.
Lastly, there’s the aesthetic components of styling and design. Perpetual calendars are often thought of as very “romantic” and traditional complications. This idea limits how boldly they can be implemented by manufacturers and still be expected to succeed.
However, the annual calendar is not bound by this perception, and is therefore more flexible in it’s applications. Luxury watch brands will gladly use this ambiguity to their advantage, joining annual calendar functions with dressy as well as more sporty timepieces.
Next, we break down our favorite timepieces that exemplify the versatility and class of the annual calendar complication.
Best Annual Calendar Complication Watches
1. Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar Montre Ecole Ref. LCF025
The Galet Montre Ecole from Laurent Ferrier was first released in 2018. And right from the start, the brand’s first annual calendar complication made waves throughout the industry.
The new caliber boasts an extreme ease of use not often encountered in annual calendars; the day can be cycled via the pusher at 10 o’clock, while the date and month are adjusted via the crown.
Thought it constituted new territory for the independent manufacturer, the Galet Annual Calendar maintains the magnificent looks that have come to be associated with the brand. We’ve chosen the red gold / slate grey dial variation as our favorite, though many other options are available.
Albeit a very formal timepiece, the Galet Annual Calendar possesses some perfectly measured splashes of color on its dial that add significant character without deviating into casual territory.
Additionally, there’s something to be said about the reverse of the watch, namely the sapphire caseback, which exposes the exquisitely finished movement as well as a power reserve function.
All things considered, the Galet Annual Calendar Montre Ecole is an outstanding and beautiful timepiece, sure to sow envy in the minds of those who ever considered an annual calendar to be boring and unexciting.
- Brand – Laurent Ferrierm
- Model – Galet Annual Calendar Montre Ecole (see on Laurent Ferrier’s site.)
- MSRP – $58,000
2. Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Regulator Ref. 5235/50R-001
The Patek 5235/50R is a 2019 novelty that expands the dial / case combinations of the 5235 complications watch. The model line possesses design cues not directly reminiscent of Patek Philippe, and this may be exactly what makes it such a special timepiece.
First of all, with Patek Philippe having been the first brand to commercialize the annual calendar back in 1996, there’s a natural attraction to any variety of one that they may release.
Even with this in mind, the 5235/50R is a mechanical beast in it’s own right. It couples a regulator time display with the annual calendar complication, a feat made possible by Patek’s innovations in movement design.
It’s also able to do this within the diminished space of a thin case, made even more memorable by the micro-rotor that powers the entire timepiece.
Speaking of the case – our chosen variation is the brand new 5235R which sports a rose gold case and “two-tone graphite and ebony black” dial.
The brushed finish of the dial, along with the symmetrical regulator subregisters, make for an unmistakable look and exceptional annual calendar timepiece.
- Brand – Patek Philippe
- Model – Complications Annual Calendar Regulator (see on Patek’s site.)
- MSRP – $51,825
3. F.P. Journe Octa Calendrier Black Label
The Octa Calendrier is the annual calendar version of Francois-Paul Journe’s higly-acclaimed Octa model line. As with essentially every other Journe timepiece ever produced, the watch stands out from the rest by its sheer refinement and sophistication.
This Octa Calendrier is further set apart by the fact that it’s a Black Label version. Therefore, it forms part of an exclusive group of platinum-cased F.P. Journe timepieces possessing blackened gold dials made in very small quantities.
The watch’s look is quintessential Journe with its off-center time registers and partially-surrounding date display. There’s also counter-balanced annual calendar apertures, presented in just the right proportions, filling a void that may have otherwise seemed uncomfortable on the dial.
We’ll let Paul Anthony, who actually owns this Journe timepiece, fill you in on the rest:
- Brand – F.P. Journe
- Model – Octa Calendrier Black Label Limited Edition
- MSRP – N/A
4. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantième Annuel Ref. 5071 1110 70B
The Blancpain brand name is usually associated with the distinguished Fifty Fathoms dive watch. Unfortunately, this results in their attractive Bathyscaphe model often being overshadowed and overlooked.
Regardless, Blancpain has continued to innovate the Bathyscaphe platform as it is a beautiful and modern sports timepiece deserving of plenty of attention. Their continuous progress has produced one of our favorite annual calendar timepieces available today.
The Bathyscaphe targets those looking for a versatile sports watch, one which can go from the water to the office and back without ever appearing out of place.
Even though this niche is very crowded and competitive, particularly in present-day, the Bathyscaphe should be a serious consideration for those willing to look past the hype attained by other steel timepieces.
This Bathyscaphe Quantième Annuel possesses the best components of the modern steel sports watch archetype, including a sturdy case construction, extensive 70+ hour power reserve, ceramic bezel insert, and significant wrist presence (particularly on its contemporary bracelet.)
Moreover, it goes a step further with the annual calendar complication, one not often implemented in sporty timepieces.
Above all, the Bathyscaphe Annual Calendar is a mechanically intricate timepiece with plenty of personality as well as ruggedness, and one that has aptly made its way onto our list of the best annual calendar watches.
- Brand – Blancpain
- Model – Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantième Annuel (see on Blancpain’s site.)
- MSRP – $28,800 [Shop Now On Amazon]
5. Omega Constellation Globemaster Master Chronometer Annual Calendar Ref. 184.108.40.206.06.001
The Globemaster was released in 2015 by Omega in an attempt to raise the bar with regards to industry chronometer specs. While brands like Rolex and Glashütte Original have already improved upon the normal COSC requirements, Omega has gone a step further.
Their Master Chronometer timepieces, of which the Globemaster was the first, have been tested and certified by the Swiss Federal Institute Of Metrology METAS. To qualify, each individual watch is put through 8 separate tests. Down the line, the watch’s owner may then access the results corresponding to their own timepiece on the METAS website.
Our Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar selection keeps the qualification and does it with an additional complication. Not a mere adaptation, the annual calendar indications have been perfectly integrated into the Globemaster’s “Pie Pan” dial, so subtly in fact, that at first glance they could even be missed.
What’s sure not to be overlooked is the watch’s lustrous tungsten carbide fluted bezel, along with the sunray texture dial and heat-blued and lumed center hands. Indeed, many other dial + case material + bezel material combinations are available, yet this grey dial and steel case stand out in looks and in price.
Omega has accustomed the watch industry to expect high-quality timepieces at incredible values from the Swiss brand. The Globemaster Annual Calendar accomplishes this and more, and with a sub-$10k price point, it’s certain to please those looking to add a bit of complication to their horological life.
- Brand – Omega
- Model – Constellation Globemaster Master Chronometer Annual Calendar (see on Omega’s site.)
- MSRP – $8,600 [Shop Now On Amazon]
More Watch Content
If you enjoyed this guide on annual calendars, make sure to check out our other watch content below. Also, feel free to comment below and let us know what you thought of our picks – were there any of your favorites we may have missed?
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- F.P. Journe Octa Calendrier Black Label Review
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"Another great resource from the Bespoke Unit team. Very entertaining, and packed with amazing annual calendar timepieces!"Rating: 5.0★★★★★