Although the word “complication” may have negative connotations, it takes on a different meaning in the industry of watchmaking. In horology, a “complication” refers to any additional feature in a watch that goes beyond the simple display of hours and minutes. The difference between basic and complex watches can be immense, ranging from bi-axial tourbillons to split-second chronographs. Take a look at some of the most complicated watches ever produced.
Whether it be 1,000-year calendars or complex tourbillon movements, complications not only add value to watches, they also push the limits of horology as we know it. All mentioned watches are fine examples of what happens when brands propel the art of watchmaking forward to defy the impossible
Histoire de Tourbillon 6
Measuring in at 55 x 49 mm, Harry Winston’s Histoire de Tourbillon 6 is the most complex watch of its series. The watch is made up of 683 parts in total and features two completely independent time indications: one powered by a tri-axial tourbillon and the other powered by a carousel. Featuring a white-gold case that perfectly fits the contours of the watch and a black galvanic dial, this exquisite watch is sure to be an instant sell-out.
Movement: HW4701 calibre
Case: 55 mm
The Greubel Forsey GMT watch greatly augments user experience, with complications such as the inclusion of multiple time zones and a three-dimensional titanium globe at the bottom of the display. This globe completes one anti-clockwise rotation every 24 hours, just like our beloved earth. Traditional techniques like that of frosting, hand-bevelling, and hand-polishing have been used to ensure the watch’s superb finish. Available in a rose-gold or white-gold model, the Greubel Forsey GMT is a watch you do not want to miss.
Case: 43.5 mm
Movement: Manual / GF05 in-house movement
When it comes to Urwerk, you may be quick to think of the company’s last UR-210 model with its revolving satellite hour indicator and horizontal retrograde display. The newly released UR-210 CP “Clou de Paris” is just as impressive, if not more so. While it uses the same UR-7.10, the engine has been reiterated in a darker, quilted skin. The watch’s black and textured case finishing imprints this stunning watch in the mind’s eye - you’ll have to see it to believe it.
Movement: UR-7.10 self-winding
Case: 43.8 mm x 53.6 mm x 17.8 mm
The Aeternitas Mega
Franck Muller’s Aeternitas Mega is the one of the most elaborate watches in the world, thanks to its 36 complications, 1,483 components, and 1,000-year calendar. Fully produced in-house, the watch is reminiscent of the old “cadraturiers” in Vallée de Joux, Switzerland. The timepiece incorporates a mechanical tourbillon, a chronograph with a flyback mechanism, and a leap year indicator. A symbol for the complex art of watchmaking, the Aeternitas Mega comes with a price tag of 2.7 million Swiss Francs.
Calibre: FM 3480 QPSE
Case: 42 mm x 61 mm
Jacob & Co.
Celestially inspired, Jacob & Co.’s Astronomia features a triple-axis tourbillon, faceted spherical diamond, and magnesium-lacquered globe. The non-diamond model is obtainable at $566,350, while the diamond version is available for $1,004,800. Astronomia combines the expertise of Swiss craftsmanship with an artist’s deft touch to create a truly spectacular timepiece.
Case: 50 mm
Calibre: Exclusive Jacob & Co. Manual Winding JCAM10
Royal Oak Concept Laptimer
Leave it to Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher to push one of the best watch brands in existence to new heights. The racing legend approached Audemars Piguet with a simple question: “Can you make a mechanism that will measure laps?” With flyback functionality and a mechanical chronograph that times laps, the result is an Audemars Piguet sports watch coated in forged carbon and titanium. Only 221 models of the watch will be made, but don’t let that deter you from admiring one in person.
Case: 44 mm
Calibre: Handwound Manufacture calibre 2923
MP-09 tourbillon bi-axis
With a three-sided sapphire crystal case, the new MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis sees Hublot soaring to new heights. The device’s engine is an automatic 43-jewel HUB9009.H1.RA calibre that operates at 3 Hz and possesses a five-day power reserve. The movement is powered by a bi-axial tourbillon, which fully rotates every minute on one axis and every half-minute on another. This phenomenal watch will be available exclusively in titanium, titanium pavé, and King Gold.
Case: 49 mm
Movement: MP-09 tourbillon bi-axis
Hybris Mechanica A Grande Sonnerie
Released in 2009, Jaeger Le-coultre’s Hybris Mechanica A Grande Sonnerie was immediately named the most complicated watch ever made. While the watch can no longer lay claim to this title, it remains as exquisite as ever. Housing 1,472 parts that are all active at once, the watch can also play the entire Carillon de Westminster melody to indicate time passing, possesses a calendar programmed to the year 2100, and includes a flying tourbillon. One of the most elegant timepieces ever created, the watch will be available at a cost of 2.5 million (dollars?).
Case: 44 mm
Movement: manual movement
Whether it be 1,000-year calendars or complex tourbillon movements, complications not only add value to watches, they also push the limits of horology as we know it. All mentioned watches are fine examples of what happens when brands propel the art of watchmaking forward to defy the impossible.