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Luxury Watch Complications: The Complete Guide

Katie Harrell 3 minute read

Discover 7 of the most luxury watch complications from our expert buyers Mark Toulson and Faye Soteri. From Chronographs and GMTs to Moonphases and Tourbillions, our Global Head of Watch Buying talks us through the most sophisticated and exclusive watch complications to date.

what is a complication?

In Horology, the term ‘complication’, refers to any functions of a timepiece beyond the display of time. This could range from simple to more complex additions, involving extra parts that produce supplementary watch movements. Although more difficult for watchmakers to put together, the outcomes are distinctive and non-conventional. The significance of watch complications is to push the limits of basic elements that may prove appealing to any watch enthusiast. Such features enhance the personality and outlook of the timepieces. Below are seven of the most well-known watch complications.

What are annual and perpetual calendars?

The Annual Calendar complication on a timepiece is an automatic feature that displays the day of the week, date, and month of the year. This element considers months with 30 and 31 days and only requires adjusting once a year in February. Annual calendars are considerably less complicated and hence, simpler to get serviced. Perpetual Calendars are somehow similar to the Annual Calendar complication…displaying the day, date and month. What makes the movement more sublime is the ability for this complication to track and make an automatic adjustment for a leap year.

What are moonphases?

This watch complication can be regarded highly for it’s connatural qualities to nature. It’s artistic presence on a watch dial, serves the purpose of tracking the phases of the current moon’s lunar cycle. Peaks of illumination informs a timepiece owner which stage the moon is at, as movements automatically take place across the dial. There is no custom display for moonphases and so, may be exhibited differently from timepiece-to-timepiece.

What is equation of time?

Following on from astronomical elements, the equation of time complication displays the variability of true solar time against mean solar time. This refers to the time indicated by the sun, versus the time on a modern watch. This follows the theory of imperfect orbital movement of the earth around the sun.

What are GMTs?

This complication abbreviation stands for Greenwich Mean Time. More popular in comparison, this feature allows a watch wearer to concurrently track more than one time-zone. A GMT timepiece can be presented as having a rotating bezel with a 24-hour time scale or a GMT hand anchored to the hour. It’s greatly compatible for travel enthusiasts or itinerants.

what are chronographs?

This complication can be described as the merging of a wristwatch and a stopwatch. Easy to identify at first glance, it has a push-button component that sits next to the crown. What makes this feature special is that it gives the watch wearer the capability to measure time intervals separate from the primary time function. There are different versions of a chronograph: single push, fly-back, rattrapante and foudroyante all serving good time recording capabilities.

What are minute repeaters?

This complication has sound elements incorporated in mechanical watches. Chimes can be heard indicating the movement of hours, minutes or quarters per request by activation of a lever. It can be noted as one of the most complex mechanisms to date and enhances the composition of a traditional watch. To make distinguishes of the time indicators, the sound can be heard through differing levels.

What are tourbillions?

A Tourbillon can be described as additional mechanisms added to a watch’s motion control device, to further improve it’s accuracy. The purpose of this complication can be viewed as a way to control the forces of gravity against watch movement. It is normally contained in a cage consisting of balance springs and wheels, that is frequently revolving. It’s certainly a marvel to observe.

Mark Toulson's favourite complications

After exploring 7 of the most luxury watch complications, Mark Toulson, our Global Head of Watch Buyers reveals his top complication.

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