Keeping Time – A Guide to Calendar Complications


The breadth of horological jargon that one may encounter when considering a luxury watch purchase is extensive, if one were to put it mildly. Investing in a crafted timepiece is leagues away from purchasing a watch for temporal utility, especially with the hefty price tag that comes with upping your wrist candy status.

In this watch guide, we sieve through the patois of watch complications to tell you exactly what you need to know about them.

The mainstay of this edition: calendar complications

Patek Philippe’s Annual Calendar Mens Wristwatch Model 5205R-010

We all have the Romans to credit for our ability to attribute the passing of specific days, months and even years into simply understood numerical codes. This significant aspect of time itself has made its way as a staple complication in luxury watches, with both the annual and calendar complications introduced to the world of watchmaking by Swiss manufacturers Patek Phillipe.

Calendar complications typically display the day, date and month on the watch’s face, requiring adjustments at specific timings to ensure accuracy. Watches with calendar complications usually reset after completing 31 24-hour cycles. However, the factoring of leap years and irregular days per month has prompted watchmakers to create advanced complications to tackle these inaccuracies.

Tissot Tradition Perpetual Calendar

The key difference between the perpetual and annual calendar complications relates to the frequency at which the watch needs to be adjusted. Granted, the semantics of this disparity can be explained with mathematics, but for this facts without frills guide, that is all you need to be equipped with.  

The annual calendar requires minimal adjustment, ideally once a year at the end of every February. Perpetual calendar watches do not need resetting until the year 2100, and the intricacies of this complication dates back to the 1920 pre-war eras, making it a significantly more expensive complication to invest in when selecting a watch.