The term “complication” in relation to luxury watches simply means any function of a watch that goes beyond its conventional horological duties. For many watch lovers and enthusiasts, complications in luxury watches are the icing on the cake, they essentially fuse utility benefits of a timepiece and its exquisite craftsmanship with intense luxury appeal. While engravements, diamond and gold treatments do enrich a timepiece, it’s the complications that truly make a timepiece stand out. We’ve listed 5 of the most luxurious complications in the world of watchmaking today.
The Tourbillon was invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795 and served to counter the effects of gravity on pocket watch movements by placing the escapement and balance wheel into a rotating cage. Unlike pocket watches, wristwatches are subject to constant displacement and movement, making the correctional displacement of gravity by a tourbillon mechanism unnecessary. Nevertheless, tourbillons in watchmaking have always been considered a luxury, as it requires extreme discipline and highly skilful craftsmanship to assemble one. Virtually all luxury watch manufacturers offer watches with a tourbillon complication, a grand tourbillon is a much more complex variant of this complication.
World timer watches have a 24-hour ring that makes one revolution in 24 hours, and a cities ring that can be adjusted from the crown or using a pusher in order to set the time zone corresponding to the hour and minute hands. At this point, at a glance you can see the time, and day or night status, for each of the 24 whole-hour time zones. It’s a distinctive complication, with not many contenders: it is the territory of the great watch brands who do everything in-house such as Chopard, Vacheron Constantin and Jaeger-LeCoultre.
While it’s certainly a horological achievement like any complication, the only difference between a perpetual calendar display and an annual calendar display is that the perpetual calendar takes into account the leap year, preventing you from having to manually set the function on March 1st. The Perpetual Calendar come with a different design with every timepiece, watchmakers patent their own signature design for Perpetual Calendars. With unique combinations of sub-dials, windows and hand indicators, perpetual calendars are a business traveller’s perfect companion.
As a mark of classic watchmaking, timepieces with a moon phase complication have been around since the early 16th century and invented purely for astronomical study. When it comes to luxury wristwatches, moon phase complications are usually found within classic timepieces and has been revived in the past decade. The moon phase complication on a luxury watch is displayed in a cultivated manner, providing a nice contrast with the rest of the watch face. In a darker blue shade resembling the night sky, the Moonphase complication usually resides upon a clean white dial. It is manually set to mimic the positions of stars and the moon in the night sky and display them using a rotating disk. Wearing a moonphase watch on your wrist creates a uniquely vintage impression, which is quite uncommon today.
It explains itself, instead of the conventional 12, this complication comes with all 24 hours of the day. The dial for this watch type is particularly on either end of the spectrum, purely minimalistic or cluttered, no in-between. The numerical indicators may seem a bit cramped-up since it fits 24 numerical indicators, but for military and tech-geeks, this timepiece would be a harpoon. It’s a simple mechanism, but it’s a unique and intricate aesthetic that gives it a bigger price-tag.
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