In the long river of human history and culture, recording a whole year is more important than recording a single day. People work at sunrise and sunset, and the approximate time can be easily estimated based on the brightness of the light. However, without today’s practical tools, simply using chalk or charcoal to record the passage of each day on the wall, it is difficult to grasp the changes throughout the year. Until the advent of astronomical calendars, people were able to reliably track changes in time throughout the year based on the position of celestial bodies. For example, immortal buildings such as Stonehenge (circa 3000 BC), or handy tools such as the Nebra Astrological Disk (circa 2000 BC). As a result, people can predict the beginning of spring several weeks in advance, so that farmers can prepare for ploughing. The arrival of winter can also be known in advance, and people can arrange in advance to cope with the cold winter. In early societies, calendars were important for survival, and those who were able to formulate, read, and interpret calendars enjoyed significant social prestige and wealth. The importance of the calendar is evident in the promotion of the Julian calendar by Julius Caesar. According to the Roman Julian calendar, there is a leap year every four years, and the number of days in this year will increase by one day to 366 days, thereby improving the long-term accuracy of the system. Nevertheless, over the years, inaccuracies continue to accumulate, leading to large date errors after centuries. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII made new amendments to the Roman Julian calendar. The revised calendar changed from Thursday, October 4, 1582 overnight to Friday, October 15, 1582, skipping exactly ten days. Gregory also abolished leap days in hundreds of years, but remained in those years divisible by 400 (ie 1600, 2000, 2400 …). The Gregorian calendar (the Gregorian calendar) was born and is still in use today. However, at the same time, leap seconds need to be inserted at the necessary time to correct astronomical time irregularities. The last time leap seconds were inserted was June 30, 2015 UTC time 23:59:59. Because this correction always involves information technology risks, people are actively discussing the abolition of leap seconds and inserting an entire leap hour in 2600.
The mechanical calendar is simply a very slow timepiece that uses a reduction gear to convert the seconds, minutes, and hours into days, months, and years. Not surprisingly, the advent of mechanical timing instruments has inspired watchmakers to make new attempts. For example, they tried to make it not only display time, but also date, week, month, year, twelve constellations, and different seasons. At first, large clock towers were the subject of such experiments, such as Bern’s famous clock tower in the 16th century; later, experiments were also performed on smaller floor clocks, table clocks, pocket watches, and watches. Shortly after the release of the first watch, Patek Philippe launched its first perpetual calendar watch: the stunning No. 97975 watch (now in the Patek Philippe Museum, exhibit number Inv.P-72), which was released in 1925. The watch can display the date, day of the week, and month, and in addition to distinguishing between 30-day and 31-day months, it can also automatically identify leap years. After launching this world’s first, Patek Philippe launched a number of perpetual calendar watches, which have been favored by connoisseurs and collectors. The pinnacle of the perpetual chronograph is the Calibre 89 pocket watch. In 1989, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the company’s founding, Patek Philippe created four Calibre 89 and a prototype sample, which is displayed in the Patek Philippe Museum. In addition to following the leap year rule, this pocket watch also follows the Gregorian calendar rules, and can even show the date of Easter. However, the design and manufacture of perpetual calendar watches is extremely complex, and only a few customers have been fortunate enough to have them. On the other hand, mechanical watches that display only the date (and sometimes the day of the week) are still very popular, although they require the wearer to manually adjust the date display in months with fewer than 31 days.
Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Patent: Outstanding Practical Complexity
In 1992, Philippe Stern, the head and president of Patek Philippe, asked his engineers to develop a calendar device to fill the gap between simple calendars and sophisticated mechanical perpetual calendars. This will be an annual calendar watch that automatically distinguishes between 30 and 31 days of the month, and only needs to be adjusted from February to March. When announcing the plan, he expressed the hope that this calendar watch would become a model of reliable performance and easy operation.
By 1994, the decisive R & D phase had ended and patents for important principles and mechanical designs were already available. This is followed by model making, wrist testing, Chronofiable testing, and countless quality and accuracy assessments. Finally, at the 1996 Baselworld Watch & Jewellery Show (now called Baselworld), the first Ref. 5035 calendar watch was stunningly presented to the public, partners, experts and competitors. Ref. 5035 was widely praised and was voted the watch of the year 1997. Its success continues to this day, and the Patek Philippe Almanac watch has become a very popular watch series in the fine watchmaking industry. Today, for Patek Philippe and the watchmaking industry as a whole, the Ref. 5035 calendar watch is recognized as the first practical complication timepiece: this type of timepiece has practical daily complications, can maintain high reliability for a long time, and is easy to operate . Those who wear and use these watches every day are undoubtedly the biggest beneficiaries.
Replace the fork with a gear
The reliability of the almanac device relies on a patented construction, which is equivalent to a revolution in the advanced calendar structure. This can be understood literally, because Patek Philippe’s annual calendar is made entirely without using the joystick and fork lever commonly used in perpetual calendar watches, but relying on rotating parts. Rotary motion is easier to adjust and control than rocker and fork motion, resulting in long-term reliable performance.
In addition, the Patek Philippe almanac device was designed from the beginning as a stand-alone mechanical component. When required, it can be fitted into a wide range of basic movements and models. Over the past 20 years, the calendar device has fully demonstrated its versatility, and has been placed in 21 different watches: with or without moon phase display, with 24-hour and / or power reserve display, with timekeeping function , With minute repeater function, and feminine diamond-encrusted ladies’ watches, etc.
The innovativeness of the annual calendar device can also be seen from the cutting-edge ‘Research on Advanced Technology of Patek Philippe’, in which revolutionary scientific and technological materials have been researched and developed. One of these technologies focuses on a silicon material called ‘Silinvar®’, which has set new standards in the watchmaking industry for accuracy, energy efficiency, longevity, and reliable performance. The Silinvar® escapement wheel, the Spiromax® balance spring and the Pulsomax® escapement developed by Patek Philippe are all industry firsts and have been introduced in limited edition watches. The almanac device became the carrier of these advanced components, a tribute to the originality of the device and its important place in the development of Patek Philippe.
The Patek Philippe Almanac watch combines practicality, reliability, structure and innovation. This type of ‘smart’ watch was introduced in 1996 and has historical significance. Of course, the understanding of the word ‘smart’ should be more appropriately ‘smart’. The latest model in this category is the Patek Philippe Ref. 5396 calendar watch.