To invent, is to give the world a concept or object that didn’t previously exist. By nature, therefore, when an invention is presented for the first time, it tends to be of its simplest form. Consider what the telephone was, when the patent for the first electronic telephone was awarded to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, and what it has become today. Rarely has there been an instance (if any at all, really) where an invention was first conceived in a complex form with skipped stages, forming gaps, that would otherwise be considered as the natural progression.
The only such instance that can be proposed (or at least the only one that I can think of), occurs in the realm of horology. A calendar complication, which was given to the world by Patek Philippe’s Advanced Research division just two decades ago.
This is the story of the annual calendar, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Patek Philippe actually celebrates two major anniversaries in 2016, however, we’ve been asked to remain patient for news on the other one later in the year.
It’s quite odd when you think about it but, the annual calendar, which we consider to be a staple complication in high horology today, came into being only in the 1990s. In comparison, the perpetual calendar, which is a far more complex calendar complication, was put into a wristwatch by Patek Philippe long before in 1925.