Share on:

Traditional calendars in mechanical watches connect users to their cultural roots

Timepieces displaying the Islamic, Hebrew, and Chinese calenders.

Hijri Perpetual Calendar by Parmigiani Fleurier

Parmigiani Hijiri calendar

Time is relative – and we are not just referring to the way the seconds seem to slow to a crawl when you’re waiting on the answer to a pressing question or for the kettle to boil. Indeed, while many of us are familiar with the 12-month Gregorian calendar, there are some 40 different calendars in use around the world today.

Whether centred on the sun or the moon, or a combination of both, traditional calendars reflect the history and values of the cultures they represent. For example, the Islamic calendar – also known as the Hijri – is lunar-based and begins from the (Gregorian) year 622 AD, when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina – both in present-day Saudi Arabia – and founded the first Muslim community.

Combining both Islamic and highend watchmaking traditions, Parmigiani Fleurier’s Hijri Perpetual Calendar wristwatch is the first of its kind. Based on technology watchmaker Michel Parmigiani developed for a table clock in 2011, the Hijri Perpetual Calendar displays dates based on lunar cycles. Each year comprises 12 months of 29 or 30 days and is consequently 10 to 12 days shorter than a Gregorian year.

There are several nods to Arabic culture on the face of this 44.5mm platinum watch as well. Eastern Arabic numerals are used on the year and month subdials – 12 and 9 o’clock respectively – while the months are depicted in Arabic script at 3 o’clock.

The bridges of the self-winding movement have been redesigned to feature forms inspired by the crescent moon and the Rub el Hizb Islamic symbol, represented as two overlapping squares. A pretty neat way to connect with one’s cultural traditions.

(Related: IWC’s Pilot’s Watch Chronograph gets a fresh new face and strap)

 

Decalogue Luah Shana by Konstantin Chaykin 

Konstantin Chaykin Luah Shana

Hebrew design and timekeeping inspire the Decalogue Luah Shana in equal measure. The hands on this timepiece run anti-clockwise on a time display marked with Hebrew letters, referencing the way the language is read from right to left. The moon-phase display features a stylised replica of the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were carved, according to the Hebrew bible, while the lunar-day indicator beneath it helps track Jewish holidays, which are based on the Hebrew lunisolar calendar.

 

Traditional Chinese Calendar by Blancpain

Blancpain Chinesefront

Launched by Blancpain to commemorate the Year of the Rat, this 45mm watch in platinum or red gold combines the Chinese lunisolar calendar and the Gregorian calendar. The complexity of the grand feu enamel dial matches that of the self-winding movement, which has to take into account the idiosyncrasies of the Chinese calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle of 29.5 days.

(Related: In a Minute: Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1)