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In the historic archives of watchmaking, a timepiece was almost exclusively a women’s accessory until the First World War. A decade later, intricate watch complications have turned it into a tool for modern women.

While men’s timepieces have always embraced the spirit of mechanical intricacy and professional design, the ones worn by women are crafted for different purposes altogether. They focus on jewel enrichment, elegant design, and a fat dose of extravagance. However, thanks to the triumphs of modern horology, we can go beyond that and embrace its mechanical elegance as well. Whether you’re a globetrotter, a businesswoman or someone who admires the art of mechanical craftsmanship, these are the watch complications every modern woman should consider investing in.

The Tourbillon

While the tourbillon was invented to eliminate the timekeeping errors caused by gravity, it has evolved into a beacon of luxury watchmaking and a true hallmark of intricacy. In a woman’s world, this is as regal as wearing a diamond ring. Of course, tourbillons on women’s watches are much smaller, due to narrower case sizes, but certainly, match the same level of intricacy. The best brands to look out for in this affair would be Jaeger-LeCoultre, Bvlgari, and Chopard.

Perpetual Calendars and Annual Calendars

We’ve picked out this complication for businesswomen who need quick access to a calendar. Of course, the utility of this complication can be shared between men and women, but it’s also one of the few supremely technical complications that have a place in a woman’s watch closet.

Here’s a bit of trivia before you choose between buying a Perpetual Calendar watch or an Annual Calendar watch – Perpetual Calendars display date, day, month, and on occasion year, and even takes into account the leap year. It will need correction in 2100. On the other hand, an annual calendar is an intermediary complication between a perpetual calendar and a triple calendar. It is not programmed to take leap years into account and the timepiece automatically adjusts the date based on 30- and 31-day months. This complication requires setting the date once per year, at the end of February. The best brands to consider here would be Patek Philippe, A Lange & Söhne, and IWC.

Minute Repeaters

If you’re looking for a complication watch to beat all other complications, you would first think of a tourbillon. However, there’s one that could even trump that. The masters of Swiss watchmaking to hold this particular complication in high regard for its micro-engineering: Minute Repeater. This is for women who’d prefer elegant horological excellence over flashy design and bold dials. While it’s dial may be subtle, there’s an equivalent of a Bugatti Chiron’s rumbling W16 resting underneath.

For the chime to work in perfect motion, each piece is first engineered into place. Unlike simple watch complications that run on on-or-off or consistent commands, this one works on random yet calculated cues and requires in-built decision making to create a chime. In simple terms, it may be an alarm but in a more philosophical sense, it’s a mechanical dance that celebrates decades of watchmaking accomplishments. Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Vacheron Constantin are the ones commercially leading this front.

Dual Time Zone  and World Timers

For globetrotting women who need to pay attention to two or more timezones at a time, we’d suggest a timepiece with a World Timer or a Dual Time Zone. What’s better than having one dial on a watch? Two dials. It’s a simple mechanism, a Dual Time Zone uses two independent movements placed next to each other, to tell the time in respect to two regions. The World Timer is an all-in-one solution

How do they work? A dial, usually on the outer edge of the watch face, tells the time up to 24 timezones around the world. The timezones are represented by the names of cities printed on the bezel or dial. The wearer reads the hour in a particular timezone by looking at the scale next to the city that the hour hand is pointing to. The minutes are read as normal.

Day Date

On a simpler note, we look at the good ol’ fashioned day-date complication. This isn’t just for the corporate women or urban hustlers but everyone who runs a daily schedule. Its quintessential design operates two windows at three o’clock, one for the date and the other for the day. It is typically set using the crown. Moving it in one direction changes the day, while the other direction changes the date. It may also be set using a small indented button on the side of the case with a special tool called a stylus. Almost every watchmaker crafts a day date watch today, but Rolex is the one to consider.

All images: Courtesy brands

Mikhail Gomes
Senior Features Writer
A watch aficionado, Gomes also enjoys learning about fine whiskies, and one day hopes to establish his own menswear label. At Lifestyle Asia India, he writes on watches, menswear, auto and tech.