The problem when looking for a Calendar and Moon Phase watch is knowing what the terms actually mean. There are models which show the day, date, month and lunar phase and most commonly will require adjusting the date on short months and leap years. That’s February (28 days), April, June, September and November (each 30 days). Now with most of my old collection of mechanical models this is pretty normal, so no big deal.So to acquire a straight forward Triple Date Calendar and Moon Phase, as described above, isn’t too difficult and OK whilst not quartz cheap, can certainly be found at a relatively “affordable” price.
The retail price appears to be around £1700 or €2100 which is not at all unreasonable for such a complication model from a decent Maker. The automatic movement is based on the Swiss ETA 2898-2 and is neatly contained in a 38mm x 10mm case with 5 bar Water Resistance.
Now the point I started to make at the start of this Post was about the description of what a Calendar Moon Phase watch was all about.
You can have “Full Calendar” – where the Day and Date are accompanied by the addition of a month display, and – sometimes – also a moon phase. Some movements switch to the next month when the date jumps from 31 to 1 of the next month and there are movements where the month display is not automatic and has to be advanced manually every month. Regarding the two Nivrel models above I’m assuming the months change as the date moves from 31 – 1.
There is the “Annual Calendar” – where the disparity between months is taken care of automatically, except for February, so basically you have to make an adjustment once per year – hence the “annual”.
And finally there is the “Perpetual calendar” – I suppose this is the natural progression from the “Annual” by taking into account the 28 day February and that every 4 years February will have 29 days (leap year). In this case it more or less runs in a four year repeatable cycle so not strictly a “perpetual” either and an adjustment will still have to be made in 100 years time, not that it should bother you – but make sure your son has the instruction booklet! (basically as our Gregorian calendar drops a leap year in every 100).
This is where unfortunately the costs increase greatly with such complications and can be quite expensive. A reason perhaps why so many people prefer quartz digital models, which of course can do “perpetual” using the power of electronics – but as I said at the start – it’s just NOT the same.
However models are available and again Nivrel have a mechanical Perpetual Calendar and Moon Phase model at perhaps the most reasonable price of any I can find.
This is a 3 sub-dial style model that shows hours, minutes and central second, date, day, month, leap year cycle and the lunar phase. This Perpetual Calendar model is the most complicated watch NIVREL produce and as they say on their web site –
“It is a very complicate mechanism that indicates to the year 2099 without external intervention the correct date of the Gregorian calendar. Providing continuous winding up means that you do not have to adjust your clock, even at short months and not even on the 29th February in a leap year”.
The Nivrel Perpetual Calendar Moon Phase model N401.001-1 AAASS uses an automatic mechanical movement based on the ETA 2892-A2 calendar module and the watch is a really neat 38mm x 10mm, a Water Resistance of 5 bar and retails for around £8300 currently. But if that’s beyond your purse, then the only other option is to look at pre-owned models and whilst there’s often stiff competition, there are good buys to be had.
So basically whilst the “perpetual” idea is easy enough to find today with quartz digital models such as Citizen, Seiko and Casio, we enter a different world in mechanical complications watches. Yes we can fairly easily find good and sometimes exceptional quality “Calendar” models of varying degrees of sophistication and at often quite reasonable prices, but when it comes to true mechanical “Perpetual” models – it can be a sometimes frustrating, wonderful, but expensive game – and if you’re really lucky – a rewarding one.
Finally just to make you drool somewhat, here is my absolute favourite – the H Moser & Cie Perpetual 1
Simple and elegant. Check out the small center Month pointer towards 11 (November) and that big Date display (known as the Flash Calendar) which manages an instant change of date at the end of one month to the start of the next month, without any invalid numerals to appear in the date window, so avoiding that uncertain period in between – and lastly a 7 day reserve.
There’s nothing else to say, but I AM doing the European lottery next week . . . . in hope!