Watch Report 2016: The Best Grand Complication Watches
Watch companies keep pushing boundaries every year, to come up with newer complications, and packing as many as possible into individual watches. Here’s a list of some of the best in the market.
Grand Complications symbolise the acme of watch making. It represents a technical feat that all watch companies aspire to. At its simplest, any watch that does anything more than display hours, minutes and seconds is a complicated time piece. Day/date display, alarms, chronograph, and a selfwinding mechanism all fall into this category. Though there is no universally accepted definition for a Grand Complication, it is generally understood to be a watch that packs in more than one complication of the more exotic variety, like a perpetual calendar, split-second flyback chronograph, moon phase, minute repeater, tourbillon, second time-zone, equation of time and so on. Though many of these complications represent nothing more than aesthetic add-ons to a watch, connoisseurs love them because they are in awe of the technical ingenuity and creativity that have gone into their making. For them, buying one is akin to acquiring a great piece of art. This is the reason why watch companies keep pushing boundaries every year, to come up with newer complications, and packing as many as possible into individual watches. Here’s a list of some of the best in the market.
BREGUET TRADITION RÉPÉTITION MINUTES TOURBILLON 7087
This unique minute-repeater is a true horological masterpiece, the result of unprecedented research that combined all the company’s latest innovations. The result is a product that has exceptional purity of sound and an original tone. The watch was built around the two most desired notes determined by Breguet engineers, after synthesising over 100,000 sounds using computer simulations adjusted to a psychoacoustic criteria. The watch was then carefully constructed to reproduce the selected sound mechanically. This pioneering approach determined the choice of every aspect of the watch, the innovations inherent in the shape of the components and the materials used for decoration. The brand’s characteristic styling was therefore carefully planned so as not to interfere with the desired sound.
AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK CONCEPT SUPERSONNERIE
The result of nearly a decade of research for the perfect sound in a minute repeater, everything in this watch has been customised towards that goal. The steel used to create the gong structure was prepared for the desired sound. Similarly, the 44 mm platinum case has been constructed in a way that prevents sound absorption and that boosts amplification, and the striking regulator – the device that sets the pace of the striking sequence of hours, quarters and minutes – has also been entirely redesigned for the purpose. It is powered by a hand-wound movement with a power reserve of 42 hours.
CARL F BUCHERER MANERO CHRONOPERPETUAL
The stand-out feature of this watch is the perpetual calendar, with the correction-free indication of date, day, month and moon phase. It also features a tachymeter. It comes in a 42.5 mm rose gold case, and is driven by an automatic movement with a power reserve of 50 hours.
BLANCPAIN L-EVOLUTION TOURBILLON CARROUSEL
In this watch, Blancpain combines a complication it is famous for, called a carrousel (it does the same work as a tourbillon) with a traditional tourbillon. The spinning cages of both can be seen on the open worked anthracite dial. The distinctive bezel, the form of the applied numerals together with the asymmetric form of the bridges and base plate gives the watch a unique appearance. It comes in a 47.4 mm platinum case. The hand-wound movement has a power reserve of 168 hours. It is limited to 50 pieces.
BELL & ROSS BR-X1 TOURBILLON SAPPHIRE
This is a skeleton watch in a 45 mm sapphire case, and is powered by the hand-wound caliber BR-CAL 285, a master grande complication flying Tourbillon with an added mono-pusher chronograph. It has a four day power reserve, a 30-minute timer at 11 o’clock and a 60-second timer at 1 o’clock. The power reserve indicator is at 9 o’clock, with a flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock. This is a limited edition of 3 pieces.
BULGARI PAPILLON TOURBILLON CENTRAL
This extraordinary watch packs in a central tourbillon, jump hour display and a `butterfly’ minutes display complication. The minutes are indicated by each of the two independent, retractable, diamond-shaped hands on a supporting disc. Each one alternatively sweeps over a graded minutes scale, spread over a 180 degree half circle. The minutes are successively indicated by each of the two hands. The first is positioned on the segment and signals the progression of the minutes, while the second one remains `off-duty’ in a fall-back position and thus invisible throughout the rotation of the disc bearing them. It is a limited edition watch and comes in a 45 mm case in 18K pink gold (30 pieces) or platinum (10 pieces). It has a power reserve of 60 hours.
ROTONDE DE CARTIER GRANDE COMPLICATION SKELETON
The most complex of Cartier’s timepieces, this skeleton watch is the result of 5 years of development, 15 weeks of production, 10 weeks of decorating and finishing and 5 weeks of assembly. It packs a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater and a flying tourbillon in the 45 mm diameter and 12.6 mm thick platinum case. It is powered by a self-winding movement
BOVET RÉCITAL 18 – THE SHOOTING STAR
Along with a tourbillon located at the bottom of the dial, this innovative watch features a second time zone on the right-side of the dial. This has been done by showing the entire earth as a single hemisphere. The push of the needle moves it to one of the 24 cities whose time the watch can tell. Simultaneously, the roller located above reveals the name of the city. The globe on the left indicates the moon phase. It comes in a 46 mm red or white gold case. The hand-wound movement has a power reserve of five days. It is limited to 50 pieces.
GEO.GRAHAM THE MOON
This watch features a manual flying tourbillon and a moon retrograde with a precision of 122 hours. The moon on the dial returns to zero at the end of its cycle every 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes. The mechanical movement has a power reserve of 96 hours. It comes in a 46 mm white gold case. The black dial is studded with a constellation of 48 diamonds, and features a hand-painted moon. The crown is decorated with black onyx stone.
HUBLOT MP-07 42 DAYS POWER RESERVE
Ferrari was the inspiration behind this watch, hence the engine block look. The HUB9007 HI.PN movement, a manual-winding suspended vertical tourbillon, provides an incredible 42 day power reserve. The mechanics are positioned for ergonomic comfort on the wrist, where the `cylinders’ provide information in the manner of mileage indicators of classic cars. The bracelet evokes the exhaust manifolds of the car. The large sapphire glass openings on the case allow the wearer to read information and to watch the movement of the internal mechanics. The all black 51×42.95 mm case is made from microblasted and polished blackplated Titanium.
A. LANGE & SÖHNE GRAND COMPLICATION
The most complex and most exclusive watch from the Lange stable, it features a chiming mechanism with grand and small strike, minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph with minute counter and flying seconds as well as a perpetual calendar with moon-phase display. The operating elements include a crown for winding the watch and setting time; one pusher each for operating the chronograph and the rattrapante mechanism; a lever for activating and deactivating the chiming mechanism; a lever for selecting small and grand strike; a slide for actuating the minute repeater; correction push pieces for advancing the date, day of week, month, and moon phase.It comes in a 50 mm pink gold case. It is a limited edition of six pieces. The manually wound L1902 movement has a power reserve of 30 hours.
The third in the famous series of fluid powered watches comes in a 62 x 41 mm rectangular case made from charcoal grey PVD-coated titanium and platinum with a micro-blasted satin finish. The upper part houses the bellows mechanism. The first, on the left, drives the progression of the fluid and therefore the time display. Its counterpart, on the right, compensates for this progression in the capillary. Less than one millimetre in diameter, this glass tube, operating in a vacuum, still contains two fluids: the first, (water based) yellow fluid serves to tell the time; the second (viscous-based) translucent fluid works in opposition. A meniscus separates them. The central part is reserved for the time display through a rotating dial, with 4 faces arranged along the time display tube. The time is set using a push-button, located on the left of the assembly. With each press, the central time display bar turns on itself by one quarter of a turn. The mechanical, manual winding, HYT caliber has a power reserve of 7 days. It is a limited edition of 25 pieces.
CHOPARD L.U.C. 150 “ALL IN ONE”
Launched to celebrate Chopard’s 150th anniversary, this watch has a lot in its 46 mm white gold (or rose gold) case. In addition to the hours, minutes and small seconds on the tourbillon at 6 o’clock, the gold guilloché-worked upper dial displays the perpetual calendar, with 24-hour indication and the day of the week at 9 o’clock, the large date window at 12 o’clock, along with the month and the leap year at 3 o’clock. The equally guilloché-worked gold plate of the dial on the case-back bears the equation of time, power reserve, 24- hour day/night indication, sunrise and sunset times as well as the astronomical orbital moon-phase display depicting the dance of the heavenly bodies — set to coincide with Geneva — and its mechanical expression. It has seven days of power reserve and is a limited edition: 15 in white gold, 15 in rose gold and 15 in white gold set with baguette-cut diamonds.
IWC PORTUGIESER GRANDE COMPLICATION
This grande complication watch has no fewer than 20 displays and functions. Apart from the time and chronograph functions, it includes a perpetual calendar with displays for date, day, month, year, decade and century, as well as a perpetual moon phase and finally, the most noteworthy of them all, the minute repeater. It comes in a 45 mm, 18K red gold case and is driven by a self-winding mechanical chronograph movement with a 44 hour power reserve.
JAEGER-LECOULTRE HYBRIS MECHANICA À GRANDE SONNERIE
One of the most complex watches ever created, the many functions and complications in this watch include a minute repeater with the world’s first Westminster chime, the longest tune, the flying tourbillon, perpetual calendar with hours, minutes, retrograde days, retrograde months, retrograde dates, leap-year display, striking mechanism power-reserve indicator and watch powerreserve indicator. It is driven by the mechanical manually-wound Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 182, with a power reserve of 50 hours for the watch, and 10 hours for the striking mechanism. It comes in a 44 mm, 18K white gold case and is a limited edition of 30 pieces.
JAQUET DROZ CHARMING BIRD
The dial of the Grande Seconde and its tutelary 8 has been reworked to devote the upper section to show the hour and minutes, and the bottom to display a singing bird automaton housed within a sapphire crystal dome. The dial is adorned with delicate mother-of-pearl. The song of the tit bird is generated by air compression entering through three minute sapphire crystal tubes. It is powered by an hand-wound mechanical automaton movement with push-button triggering mechanism. A self-winding mechanical movement drives the hours and minutes hands. The power reserve is 38 hours. This is a limited edition watch in a 47 mm case with eight pieces each in 18K red gold and white gold.
LONGINES MASTER COLLECTION RETROGRADE MOON PHASES
Besides showing time, day, night and phases of the moon, this watch boasts of four retrograde functions, namely the day of the week at 12 o’clock, a date aperture on the right-hand side of the dial, a second time-zone with a 24-hour scale on the left and small seconds at 6 o’clock. The self-winding mechanical movement has a power reserve of 48 hours. It comes in a 44 mm stainless steel case.
Because it is carved out of sapphire, the distinctive wheel spinning freely above the dial of this watch appears transparent. Caliber P-371 displays the hours and minutes in the center and the hands are fixed to the heart of a circle forming figure 8 with the circumference of the tourbillon carriage visible at 12 o’clock. Around it the black dial is enhanced by a raised structure available in two versions and echoing the blades of the turbine. The new 46-millimeter diameter case comes in three variations – black DLC-coated steel and natural steel, all-black, or two-tone black DLCcoated steel and pink gold. It is issued in a 60-piece limited edition comprising 20 of each version.
LOUIS VUITTON FLYING TOURBILLON `POINÇON DE GENÈVE’
This watch bears the prestigious `Poinçon de Genève’ seal, the first for a Louis Vuitton timepiece. It is an indicator of the highest quality of manufacturing and finishing that has gone into making the watch and its components, including the movement, case, workings, power reserve etc. Its main complication is the skeleton flying tourbillon, with the hours and minutes with the V tourbillon cage rotating at 6 o’clock every minute. It is driven by the LV104 calibre, mechanical movement that appears to be floating inside the case. The power reserve is 80 hours. The platinum case is a combination of a circle and a square, measuring 41 mm width and 43.7 mm diagonally. The grey metalized sapphire dial is decentered at 12 o’clock.
MONTBLANC METAMORPHOSIS II
The name comes from its unique complication that transforms it from a classic time watch to a chronograph and back, using the same movement. In the classic position, the timepiece displays the regular face showing hours, minutes and date. A slide on the left side of the case is used to activate the transformation into a new face that reveals a a chronograph. During the metamorphosis, two wings fold in on themselves inside the lower part of the dial, gradually disappearing on each side. They unveil a chronograph counter disc for counting down the minutes, which rises gradually like a lifting ramp inside the movement until it `absorbs’ the hand that indicates the date. A similar transformation is performed in parallel in the upper part of the dial. Two wings also move apart on the left and right sides, causing the classic time display with Roman numerals to disappear. They reveal a new dial in a new design with Arabic numerals and index. It comes in a 52 mm, 18K red gold case and is powered by a hand-wound mechanical movement with a power reserve of 50 hours.
ROMAIN JEROME DAY & NIGHT DOUBLE TOURBILLON
The 46 mm case of this watch is made from steel and titanium, some of which was recovered from the ill-fated Titanic. The bezel is made from rusted steel from the same ship, and so is the deep black coal skeleton dial, made with recovered coal. It features a sequential double-tourbillon: the day tourbillon at 12 o’clock and the night tourbillon at 6 o’clock, and is powered by a mechanical manualwinding movement. It is limited to 9 pieces.
PANERAI RADIOMIR 1940 MINUTE REPEATER CARILLON TOURBILLON GMT – 49MM
The new P.2005/MR mechanical movement of this watch is a handwound skeleton calibre fitted with a high-end minute repeater mechanism. The chiming is activated by a push-piece at 8 o’clock, and it is carried out by three hammers which strike an equal number of gongs fixed to the movement and the case. The most remarkable feature is the fact that the repeater function can be activated both for local time and for a second time zone, which is indicated on the dial by the central arrow hand and the am/pm indicator on the counter at 3 o’clock. The tourbillon regulator can be admired from both the front and the back of the watch thanks to the skeletonisation. It comes in a 49 mm, 18K polished red gold case with a power reserve of 96 hours.
ROGER DUBUIS HOMMAGE MILLÉSIME
This exquisite looking pocket watch, in a 60 mm pink gold case with Roger Dubuis’ signature engraved on the case-back, packs in quite a bit. Its RD181 Calibre drives a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, biretrograde and a chronograph. The sapphire crystal dial features pink gold counters decorated with guilloché finishes. The moon phase is in lapis lazuli with a pink gold moon. It features a retrograde date at 12 o’clock, small seconds at 3 o’clock, retrograde days of the week at 6 o’clock and months and years at 9 o’clock.
PIAGET EMPERADOR COUSSIN ULTRA-THIN MINUTE REPEATER
Piaget’s first minute repeater represents the 4th major complication developed by the watchmaker, and in keeping with its tradition of making some of the world’s thinnest watches, this one’s case is only 9.4 mm in thickness with a caliber that is just 4.8mm thick. It is thus, easily, the thinnest minute repeater ever created. It comes in a 18K pink gold case of 48 mm diameter. The Piaget 1290P ultra-thin mechanical self-winding minute repeater movement has a power reserve of 40 hours.
HARRY WINSTON HISTOIRE DE TOURBILLON 7
This watch brings together two biaxial tourbillions, as can be seen on its skeleton dial. The right side features a pyramid-cut reading area that houses the hour and minute hands. It is surrounded by indexable inserts that form a tilted three-dimensional hour circle. Extended by a long strip in either red aluminum or anthracite, depending on the version, it overlooks a power reserve indicator in roll form that is flush with a domed sapphire crystal. The left dial displays two biaxial tourbillons. It comes in a 50 mm white gold case. The manual winding movement has a power reserve of 55 hours. It is a limited edition of 20 pieces, 10 for the anthracite version and 10 for the red version.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN REFERENCE 57260
This double-dial pocket watch is a horological masterwork, featuring 57 complications, and thus is the most complex timepiece ever created. The result of eight years of research and development, it incorporates all the complications known to watchmakers and some new ones, like multiple calendars and double retrograde rattrapante chronograph. Made of solid 18K white gold, polished with glazed bezels on each side, the elegant and perfectly proportioned case is 3.8 inches in diameter, nearly 2 inches thick and weighs 957 grams. It is topped by a three-position winding crown and features a concealed flush-fit alarm winding crown at the 4 o’clock position. Each side of the watch has a dial made of solid silver, and rotating discs for the displays made of aluminium. There are a total of 31 hands on the dials, and over 2826 components.
ULYSSE NARDIN GRAND DECK MARINE TOURBILLON
On the dial, the hand-crafted wood marquetry evokes a ship’s deck, and the retrograde minutes hand has been replaced by a boom — the horizontal spar used to angle the head sail. Working like the halyard cord that is used to hoist the sails of a ship, a wire pulls the boom across a graduated arc. The boom jumps back once an hour, its speed regulated by a purpose-designed retrograde mechanism. The mesmerizing leap takes 3 to 4 seconds and can be viewed through the case back. The boom is pulled by a virtually invisible nanowire made of polyethylene fiber, a material that is used in ship’s rigging. The jumping hour is driven by two large concentric disks that turn in real time, and is displayed through a double aperture. A corrector positioned at 2 o’clock is used to set the time. It comes in a in a white-gold case and is driven by Caliber UN-630, a 60-second flying tourbillon with manual-winding movement. The power reserve is 48 hours, and it is limited to 18 pieces.
ZENITH ACADEMY CHRISTOPHE COLOMB HURRICANE
This remarkably complex watch features Zenith’s unique fuse and chain constant force mechanism, with a unique gyroscopic system that ensures perfect horizontal positioning of the regulating organ. The hours and minutes are excentred at 12 o’clock on the gold hand-crafted guilloché motif dial, with the the self-regulating gravity control module at 6 o’clock, small seconds display at 9 o’clock, power-reserve indicator at 3 o’clock and fusée-chain transmission under the hours/minutes dial. It comes in a 18K rose gold case and is driven by the El Primero 8805 manual winding movement with a power reserve of 50 hours. It is a limited edition of 25 pieces.
GREUBEL FORSEY QP À ÉQUATION
Using a sophisticated coding mechanism, Greubel Forsey has integrated the Equation of Time into the Perpetual Calendar of this watch. The indications of the Equation of Time including the seasons and the year can be seen on back. The sub-dial at 3 o’clock reveals the three in-line windows that indicate day, date and month. The watch also features a 24 second tourbillon inclined at 25°, as can be seen on the top left of the dial. It comes in a 43.5 mm, white gold case. The power reserve is 72 hours.
OMEGA DE VILLE TOURBILLON COAXIAL NUMBERED EDITION 44 MM
The newly-designed 44mm tourbillon case is crafted from 18K Sedna gold, as are the “flying hands”, which are applied to a sapphire crystal, and the brushed seconds hand that is set within the tourbillon titanium bridge. The dial and the inner ring are sun-brushed in 18K Sedna gold and treated with blue PVD. The selfwinding movement with Co- Axial escapement has a power reserve of 45 hours
TAG HEUER CARRERA HEUER-02T
This watch combines a COSC-certified automatic chronograph with a titanium and carbon flying tourbillon. The 45 mm titanium case houses the lightweight tourbillon, inspired by the Monaco V4’s tourbillon, which has central sections made from titanium and a carbon top section. It has a power reserve in excess of 65 hours. The black titanium bezel bears the tachymeter scale.
BAUME & MERCIER CAPELAND 10007
This chronograph, with lines inspired by a model dating from 1948, comes in a 44 mm-diameter pebble-shaped case in 18K red gold. It is driven by an automatic movement equipped with a flyback function visible through a transparent sapphire caseback. It has two graduated scales: one tachymetric and the other telemetric.
BREGUET MARIEANTOINETTE GRANDE COMPLICATION POCKET WATCH N°1160
The original of this watch was made by Abraham-Louis Breguet, founder of Breguet, for the infamous 18th century French queen Marie- Antoinette, but not completed till 1827, 34 years after her death. The order had specified that the watch was to be as spectacular as possible, incorporating the fullest range of horological expertise known at the time, and it did. For two centuries, it was an object of wonder for watch lovers, but it was stolen from a museum in Jerusalem. In 2005, Swatch founder Nicolas G. Hayek, who had by then acquired Breguet, challenged his watchmakers to build an exact replica of the original.watch. Though the original mysteriously reappeared in 2007, work on the new Breguet watch continued and it was finally ready in 2008. Based entirely on drawings in the Breguet museum, the timepiece is a work of art in its own right. The new Marie-Antoinette perpétuelle, or self-winding watch, features a minute repeater that on command strikes hours, quarters and minutes as well as a full perpetual calendar showing the date, the day and the month at two, six and eight o’clock respectively. At ten o’clock, an equation-of-time display expresses the difference between civil and solar time. At centre, jumping hours and a minute hand accompany a large independent seconds hand, the forerunner to the chronograph hand, while a subdial for the running seconds is situated at six o’clock. A 48-hour power-reserve indicator and a bimetallic thermometer are positioned side by side. Today, this watch is still considered the fifth most complicated in the world.