2012. A consequential year to exist. The lucky Year of the Dragon, the 57th quadrennial presidential election, the Games of the XXX Olympiad and the end of time as we know it — or maybe just the end of the Mayan calendar — all will make the history books for twenty twelve. But one of the most influential events our common era has on the world of watchmaking is the leap year. Not only do we have the gift of an extra day on February 29th, but an added second this June. This controversial wink in time, known as a leap second, will be inserted on June 30th at precisely 23:59:60 UTC (Universal Time Coordinated).
Leap Through History
Leap years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the Sun. At the instigation of Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes, Julius Caesar introduced leap years over 2000 years ago, when it was discovered that the astronomical year is slightly longer than 365 days. The Julian calendar had only one rule: any year evenly divisible by 4 would be a leap year. This prevented the calendar from drifting too far, but a small time-lag of 0.0078 days per year still remained.
Pope Gregory XIII provided further fine-tuning to our beloved calendar in the year 1582. He added that leap days should not occur in years ending in "00" except if divisible by 400. Therefore, 2000 was a leap year and 2400 will be another, but 2100, 2200 and 2300 will not be. This Gregorian calendar system is now used throughout the world today as the accepted civil calendar.
A Calendar Year of Perpetual Trends
Modern society's constant quest for calendar perfection presents the world of watchmaking with new and exciting challenges. Perpetual calendar watches repeatedly break world records, not only because of their technical precision but also with respect to the artistic finishing that turns them into tiny, aesthetic treasures.
The perpetual watch is crafted with a genuine mechanical memory capable of identifying leap years and times to come. Within the watch's movement, a complex mechanism completes one revolution every four years. In the fourth year, it will display the 29th of February before changing directly to the 1st of March. A nearly everlasting fix, the honorary heirs to a perpetual calendar watch will only need to correct it three times in the next five centuries.