A. Lange & Söhne has established itself as one of the greatest mechanical watch manufacturers of the 21st Century. In typical German style, however, the brand has always abstained from hype and marketing hyperbole, instead opting to let its timepieces do all the talking. Unveiled at SIHH 2017, the Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Merité was extremely conversational. Combining a constant force fusée-and-chain transmission with a tourbillon, a chronograph, a rattrapante function, and a perpetual calendar, all housed within the gravitas of its 43mm platinum case, this is, without a doubt, a Grail watch. Incredibly, A. Lange & Söhne’s brilliant engineers and designers have found a way to fit the 684 parts entirely within the calibre L133.1, a movement just 32mm in diameter and 10.9mm in height. An impressive feat to say the least and one that pays suitable tribute to the passion and energy of Walter Lange, great-grandson of the founder of the German brand, and a much beloved luminary in the luxury watch industry in his own right, who sadly passed away at the beginning of the year.
In terms of more fundamental complications, Rolex has finally answered the prayers of watch lovers everywhere this year with the debut of the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller 42mm in Rolesor. This is Rolex-lexicon for the combination of 904L steel and 18 kt gold. Shown here in white Rolesor matched with a striking blue dial, it has already become one of the “must-have” watches of 2017. The first Rolex with a dual time-zone display and an annual calendar, the Sky-Dweller is the supreme watch for international travellers. All of the indications can all be set via the crown, in conjunction with the rotating Ring Command bezel to select the function you wish to alter. A technological masterpiece, protected by 11 patents, it is the most complicated movement ever developed by the brand. The Saros mechanism in the Calibre 9001 is ingeniously simple yet highly practical and intuitive to use. Not that we would expect any less from Rolex.
IWC adds to is quiver of complicated watches this year, with two new perpetual calendar models joining the Da Vinci collection — one in red gold with a silver-plated dial and the other in steel with a slate dial. Taking its design cues from the original Ref. 3750 of the same name, created by Kurt Klaus and launched in 1985, the watch is presented in a 43mm x 15.5mm case, and features the famous perpetual calendar but with an integrated moon-phase display that mimics the Earth’s shadow on the moon disc, against a midnight blue background, as well as a chronograph. It’s also the brand’s first watch to combine the chronograph’s hour and minute counters with the moon phase in a single sub-dial, which required a redesign of the IWC-manufactured 89630 calibre. More than a pretty face, however, this Perpetual Calendar also includes an amazing amount of technical prowess as the lunar display diverges by just one day every 577.5 years.
For the navigators and astronomers in us all, and for those seeking True Solar Time, Breguet offers its new Marine Équation Marchante 5887, which boasts a decidedly modern-look. Powered by the self-winding Calibre 581DPE, it features four impressive complications, including a running equation of time, a perpetual calendar, a tourbillon, and a power reserve indicator. The 43.9mm platinum case is paired with a stunning blue, engine-turned gold dial with an exclusive wave pattern, especially developed for this model. On the rear of the watch, where a sapphire caseback reveals the inner-workings of the complex movement, the bridges have been painstakingly hand-engraved to depict in meticulous detail the Royal Louis, a first rank vessel in the French Royal Navy. On the front of the watch can be spied the elliptical cam which precisely duplicates the Earth’s path orbiting the Sun.
With just a quick glance at the Blancpain Villeret Semainier Grande Date 8 Jours, you can read the day of the week, date and week number, as well as the time, which is displayed centrally. Offered in a 42mm, 18k pink gold case, the full-fired ivory enamel dial features black Roman numerals made from enamelled paint. Two leaf-shaped, central open-worked hands are responsible for displaying the hours and minutes and are made from gold, as is the second hand, which features a silhouette of the letter B for Blancpain as a counterweight. At 9 o’clock, a rounded hollow houses the day indicator, complete with a small blued hand, while the date is displayed in a double window at 6 o’clock. Finally, a wavy blued hand points to one of the 53 numbers placed along the chapter ring. This is not a typo though; according to official calendars, a year is made up of 53 weeks; a result of aligning the 365.24-day year with a 7-day week. Inside is the self-winding mechanical calibre 3738G2 made by Blancpain. It contains three barrels and offers up 192 hours of power reserve (eight days).
Proving that there’s no need to reinvent the wheel to make an impact, Vacheron Constantin have released their famed Patrimony Perpetual Calendar watch in rose gold with a slate dial. Powered by the Calibre 1120 QP, it offers full perpetual calendar functionality complete with moon-phase indicator and 48-month counter (with a leap year indication). The monochromatic grey hue of the dial provides the perfect contrast for the gold hands and markers, resulting in a watch that is simultaneously complicated and yet effortless to read. Fitted with a black alligator leather strap, this is a mechanically-charged movement in a design with decorum.