What is a Complete Calendar Watch?
 

What is a Complete Calendar Watch?

5 min read
Safie Agar-Hutton

Categories

How To's

Safie Agar-Hutton

Categories

How To's

In the age of all singing all dancing smart watches, brands like Apple would likely argue that traditional mechanical watches are inferior in terms of their functionality, but that simply isn’t the case. Whilst I’m sure plenty of people are still happy for their watch to just tell the time, plenty of watches include a calendar function so you can even track the date, day, and month from the dial on your wrist.

In a way, calendar watches walked so smart watches could run, offering the wearer a way of keeping on top of things that mitigates the need to carry around a diary or, God forbid, a smart watch.

What are the 3 types of calendar watches?

Watches with a calendar function can be split into three categories based on their complexity.

In this article we’ll focus on complete calendar timepieces, how they work and what it is that distinguishes them from other types of calendar watches.

What is a Complete Calendar?

Timex Marlin Moonphase MultifunctionTimex Marlin Moonphase Multifunction - Credit Timex

 
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A complete calendar watch is, on paper, the most basic of the three calendar categories and for that reason, also the most affordable. Sometimes referred to as a triple calendar as, unlike a simple day-date watch, the month is also present, complete calendars can be identified by the incorporation of day, date, month and moonphase function.

More useful than a watch that can simply tell the time, but less so than a watch like the perpetual calendar which requires no adjustments, a complete calendar watch will incorporate the date, day, and month, and it can happily keep track of all three except for when the month is shorter than 31 days or in the case of a leap year.

How often do you have to set a complete calendar watch?

Complete calendar watches will need adjusting five times a year, whenever the month is shorter than 31 days.

What is an Annual Calendar?

A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Annual CalendarA. Lange & Sohne 1815 Annual Calendar - Credit A. Lange & Sohne

Annual calendar watches need slightly less intervention, they also show the date, day, and month but they actually already know when to fluctuate between a 30-day or 31-day month.

How often do you have to set an annual calendar watch?

Annual calendar watches are slightly smarter than complete calendar watches, in the way that they can compensate for months with 30 or 31 days without adjustment. They can’t account for leap years or the month of February, but still require less attention than a complete calendar.

What is a Perpetual Calendar?

Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar - Credit Glashütte Original

Perpetual calendar watches, as the name might suggest, need no intervention. They are able to breeze between 30-day and 31-day months, as well as accounting for leap years.

How often do you have to set a perpetual calendar watch?

You can pretty safely leave your perpetual calendar watch alone. The only catch is, they’ll become inaccurate in 2100 when they’ll eventually skip the leap year. Morbid as it is though, most of us won’t need to worry too much about that.

What is the difference between a complete calendar, a perpetual calendar, and an annual calendar?

The Zenith Chronomaster Triple CalendarThe Zenith Chronomaster Triple Calendar - Credit Zenith

 
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To bring it back to basics, complete, annual, and perpetual calendars all have similar functions, with each showing the date, day, and month of the year. The main difference between these types of calendar watches is how often, if at all, they require adjusting. In the case of the complete calendar, this will need to be done more often, as five out of twelve months in the year are shorter than the 31-day cycle your complete calendar watch will follow.

How do complete calendar watches work?

Complete calendar watches make use of various apertures, sub-dials, date rings and windows to display information. The way the day, date, and month are displayed will vary simply due to the preferred design characteristics of different watchmakers. In the most basic watches with date only, numbers from 1 to 31 will rotate every 24 hours on a 31-day cycle. When the cycle is complete the system will begin again as the cycle is kept in motion by various gears and wheels. Days of the week and months of the year are displayed through a similar extension of mechanical parts that work together to ensure the information changes every 24 hours.

 

Longines Master Collection L2.673.4.78.3 - Credit Longines

Who invented complete calendar watches?

While the oldest known watch with perpetual calendar function was made in 1762 by British horologist Thomas Rudge, the need for something simpler, and also more affordable, led to the first triple calendar watch being produced much later, in the 1920’s.

Do Rolex do a complete calendar watch?

Rolex might not be a name we relate to affordability, but alongside Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe they were the first brand to begin the manufacture of wristwatches on which the date, day, and month complemented the time.

Rolex Triple Date Moonphase 8171 and Rolex Triple Calendar Moonphase 6062. © Photo courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2024.

Rolex Triple Date Moonphase Reference 8171

Rolex’s debut Triple Date Moonphase (ref: 8171) was made in a small series between 1949-1952 and at the time probably cost a few hundred dollars. The rarity of these collector’s items, as well as the scarcity of Rolex moonphase models, has since seen prices skyrocket, with a stainless steel 8171 reference selling for over $1 million at auction in 2016.

Rolex Triple Calendar Moonphase Reference 6062

The Rolex Reference 6062 Triple Calendar Moonphase was produced around the same time. Introduced at Basel Fair in 1950, the Rolex 6062 was the world’s first waterproof triple calendar moon phase and was presented in Rolex’s famous Oyster case. As the undeniable favorite of many connoisseurs, the 6062 is commonly accepted as the most iconic vintage Rolex of all time. The Rolex 6062 has previously sold at auction for staggering amounts, with a sale in 2017 exceeding an eye-watering $5.5 million. What was that I was saying about affordability?

Who are complete calendar watches for?

Brellum Duobox Tripple Calendar Moonphase ChronometerBrellum Duobox Triple Calendar Moonphase Chronometer - Credit Brellum

 
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This is an easy one, as there really is no right or wrong answer. Complete calendar watches are a great solution for those with busy schedules who need to retain a sense of organization, but equally, many of us simply appreciate their symmetrical aesthetic and enjoy the classic look that a complete calendar watch offers. Whilst you can definitely find masses of luxury timepieces to splash out on, it's by no means necessary, with plenty of brands offering more affordable calendar watch options.

Whether you’re looking for your first triple-date timepiece or are a seasoned collector of calendar watches, hopefully this article has answered your burning questions. If there’s anything I’ve missed then as always, you can let me know in the comments!

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Safie Agar-Hutton

About the Author: Safie Agar-Hutton

As a passionate writer, working on the Magazine Team is a great outlet for my creativity. I joined WatchGecko in 2024 and enjoy the varied nature of my job, but my true motivation comes from delivering horological-focused content. My writing includes press releases containing important news from the biggest brands in the industry, timepiece reviews, and Top Choice pieces showcasing the best products from our online store. If it's watch related, I’ll write about it!

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