Technology is great and all, but sometimes it gives the easily addled too much information, and, as a result, we can forget what day it is. Literally in my case. I consult five different calendars - Google Calendar, iCal, a smartphone calendar, a Moleskine diary and Hello Kitty (it's ironic apparently) - and I still managed to forget my mum's birthday. What's needed is the sturdy and reliable date indicator one can find with annual calendar watches, so you're never left unawares.
Newbies to mechanical watches might find the many calendar complications slightly confusing; after all, there are the fancy perpetual calendars, the annual calendars and, of course, your standard calendar. This week we will look at the annual calendar complication that displays day, date and month with the need for manual correction once a year, for the transition from February to March. Annual calendars are different from the more complex and more expensive perpetual calendars, which automatically adjust, including for leap years. But if you're in the market for a practical and complex mechanical watch an annual calendar is certainly worth a look, especially if they look like the A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Annual Calendar (below). A throwback design with a classic 38.5mm case, the Saxonia has been turning heads since it was launched three years ago and for 2013 a new and very welcome platinum version has been released. The dial features a number of indicators for the annual calendar movement, including the unmistakable Lange outsize date indicator at the 12 o'clock position, a month indicator, the day of the week as well as a bonus moon-phase indicator at six o'clock. As one would expect from Lange, the finishing on this watch is superb and all hand polished. The attention to detail is exemplary and can be seen through the transparent caseback. The A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Annual Calendar in platinum is priced at HK$452,000.
The Saxonia is at the top end price wise, but not all annual calendar watches cost the earth. The wonderful Zenith Captain Winsor Annual Calendar Boutique Edition (above left) is available at the extremely tempting price of HK$170,600, a steal for a watch with a fine movement and great design. The rose-gold case is sized at 42mm and houses the El Primero 4054 automatic movement, which can crank out 50 hours of power. The dial design takes classic watchmaking for its inspiration and is a little less busy than the Saxonia with two sub dials, a small seconds dial at the nine o'clock position and a one-counter chronograph at six o'clock. The annual calendar indicators include day and month at the three o'clock position and date indicator at six o'clock. The caseback is transparent and comes with a lovely brown alligator leather strap.
Finally, we have one of the gems of the 2012 Cartier collection, the Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar (above right). This watch is the epitome of not just annual calendar watches but calendar watches in general and proudly takes the full dial to display the complication. Coming in both white and rose gold the Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar is sized at a meaty 45mm, room enough to encom-pass the feature-rich dial which is dominated by the iconic Cartier Roman numerals as well as an outer month indicator ring and inner day of the week indicator. There is also a date window at the 12 o'clock position. The day and month are cleverly indicated by two rotating red markers and illustrate the thought and nuance Cartier has put into this watch and why it has been received so warmly. The Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar in white gold is priced at HK$298,000 and the rose-gold version costs HK$278,000.