Despite the fact that the Promiscuous Wrist, by definition, gets around a lot, it (or I, I should say) has never had the chance to test-drive a watch with an equation-of-time complication. For that matter, we’ve never had a run around the block with an annual calendar either. So, when the chance came to kill two birds with one stone, that’s what we did — Girard-Perregaux’s 1966 Annual Calendar and Equation of Time watch arrived on our doorstep blushing, as it were, with eagerness, in a rose-gold case with a dark gray ruthenium dial (the other variation of the watch, which was the only version available when it debuted in 2010, is in white gold with a white dial and blue hands).
We loved the original 1966, but the combination of rose gold and the new dial is definitely more overtly seductive; the white-gold version, especially on its black strap, inhabits a narrower strip of style turf and really wants to be worn with a jacket and tie, at least. The new version feels more freewheeling; though you would never mistake it for a sports watch, its slightly more extroverted character lets it happily dress down or up (well, maybe not a watch you’d wear with shorts, but then, shorts in general should be consigned to an outer darkness, where there is wailing and the gnashing of teeth).
The equation of time, if I can segue from Promiscuous to personal for a moment, has been a favorite complication of mine for many years; there’s a delightful obscurity and impracticality to it that puts it, at least nowadays, squarely in the realm of the intellectually decorative; as Annie Dillard wrote of Nabokov’s Pale Fire, it sheds “a lovely and intellectual light” pretty much just for the sake of the thing. The equation of time is the difference between actual and mean solar time, but since nowadays we don’t use mean solar time, but mean civil time (that is, the common time across an entire time zone), the complication, on a wristwatch, is an abstraction of its original purpose, which was to allow a clock to be set to mean time by reference to a sundial.
Interestingly, the equation of time in the 1966 Annual Calendar and Equation of Time is paired with, you guessed it, an annual calendar, which unlike the EOT is an extremely practical complication. It’s not capable of dealing with the month of February, like a full perpetual calendar (in a leap year or otherwise), but theoretically, if the watch kept a good rate and you wore it every day (and you certainly could; indeed that’s one of the main attractions of such a clean, versatile design), you’d only need to touch the crown once per year.
The information the watch displays is shown without fuss, and with admirable clarity, and it goes on the wrist every morning with a reassuring absence of melodrama. The 1966 Annual Calendar and Equation of Time gives a lot of the same satisfaction, worn every day, that you get from a bespoke suit with an interesting lining; it’s a pocket-watch-like, personal pleasure, not a public one, and enhancing that feeling is the fact that it’s a watch by Girard-Perregaux, which has always been a bit of an iconoclast’s choice — a company for one who goes his own way and is not swayed overly by consideration of what is flashy or currently in style horologically. This may seem to savor a little of damning with faint praise, but it is not — quiet dignity and an authentically original but unobtrusively tasteful design is rather a rarer commodity in watchmaking these days than it used to be, and for those who have not considered Girard-Perregaux recently (or at all), this watch is not only a pleasantly out-of-the-box alternative, but it’s in its own way an assertion of personal taste — which is to say, personal style — in a world where watchmaking and luxury in general is increasingly about impersonal assertion of some brand’s identity, rather than your own.