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Prime Time

Beyond the hype of the year’s high horology rarities is an array of intriguing watches for dreamers and realists alike
Laurie Kahle
From the Print Edition:
Ernie Els, November/December 2012

(continued from page 3)


Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Perpetual Calendar
Honorable mention: Corum, Girard-Perregaux, Omega, Parmigiani, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Zenith

Calendar functions are useful complications that keep us up to date with varying degrees of complexity and expense. From a basic calendar that must be adjusted five times per year to an annual calendar that requires attention once per year on March 1 to the complex perpetual calendar that can run accurately until the year 2100, there are calendar watches for every budget. This year, annual calendars were noticeably on the upswing with introductions from several brands including Cartier, Corum, Girard-Perregaux, Omega, Parmigiani, Rolex and Zenith, as well as new variations from Patek Philippe, which invented the bridge complication in the 1990s.

Still, the perpetual calendar is the ne plus ultra of calendar watches, and Cartier released a beauty with the Rotonde de Cartier Perpetual Calendar ($53,900). Unlike many perpetual calendars that can be visually confusing, Cartier’s elegant dial layout is clear and easy to read with a sweeping retrograde hand marking the day, while the month and leap year indications share a sub-counter at 12 o’clock. The date is shown by a mallet-shaped hand pointing to Arabic numerals around the periphery of the dial. The automatic Caliber 9422 MC movement with a 52-hour power reserve can be admired through the sapphire crystal case-back. With bold Roman hour numerals overlaid on a white galvanized guilloché dial, Rotonde de Cartier Perpetual Calendar is a refined expression of Cartier’s sophisticated design codes.


Seiko Astron
Honorable mention: Breitling, H. Moser, Rolex

While most complications were invented centuries ago, travel functions offer modern-day movers and shakers a useful function for on-the-go lifestyles. This year’s standouts included H. Moser’s sleek Meridian Dual Time, Rolex’s SkyDweller annual calendar with GMT and Breitling’s Transocean Chronograph Unitime with a universal time feature that enables the wearer to see current time in 24 time zones and adjust with the crown.

But Seiko transported travel watches into the twenty-first century with the Astron ($3,100 on bracelet, $2,300 on rubber strap), the first solar-powered GPS watch. On demand or automatically once a day, the Astron connects to at least four GPS satellites that pinpoint the watch’s position. Astron then instantly adjusts the time to its location with atomic clock precision. This technological marvel was made possible by Seiko’s development of a patented low-energy-consumption GPS receiver that allows Astron to receive GPS signals and identify time zone, time and date data for the earth’s 39 time zones. The perpetual calendar function similarly assures the date is current with, best of all, no batteries required.


Frederique Constant Classics Manufacture
Honorable mention: Hamilton

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