The first in a series of articles which take a look into the world of Audemars Piguet full calendar and perpetual calendar wristwatches of the 20th century, Making the Leap is a thrilling read (in a watch-geek kinda way!).
During the first half of the 20th century, very few companies were capable of producing perpetual calendar wristwatches.* The first perpetual calendar wristwatch is believed to have been made in 1925 by Patek Philippe.* In 1941, they introduced the first perpetual calendar wristwatch made in a series. However, as important and collectible as they are, these perpetual calendar wristwatches lacked the defining element of the perpetual calendar pocket watches that preceded them – the leap year indication.

Recent research has unveiled that at least three examples of perpetual calendar wristwatches were made at Audemars Piguet beginning in 1950; however these three watches also lacked the leap year indication.

In 1955, Audemars Piguet began production on the very first series of perpetual calendar wristwatches in the world to feature the astronomical leap year indication. This next evolution of reference 5516 was made in a total of only 9 examples. They feature meticulously finished 36.5 mm cases and beautifully detailed dials. To add even further to the rarity and desirability of this groundbreaking model, there are slight dial variations within the series, rendering certain examples as entirely unique…
The final variation of reference 5516 was produced in 6 examples, and the moonphase display returns to the traditional position at 6 o’clock. The leap-year cycle, now at 12 o’clock, is much easier to discern. All of the four watches known to the market give a prominent place to the four-year leap cycle. Only one watch retains the 48-month cycle, but the letters are so tiny that their function is little more than figurative.
The six outstanding examples of this version were put into production in 1957 and sold between 1963 and 1969. Two of the watches are in the hands of the Audemars Piguet Heritage department, one of which is signed by the retailer, Tiffany & Co. on the dial.
Making the Leap*is a fascinating first article in a series in which the Audemars Piguet Heritage Department delves into the world of Audemars Piguet full calendar and perpetual calendar wristwatches of the 20th century.* It can be read in its entirety over at AP’s website (click here to go)>>>

© Perpétuelle, 2015. | Serving Up New Luxury and Avant-Garde Timepieces Daily.
More Audemars Piguet