com·pli·ca·tion (noun): Extra function of a mechanical timepiece beyond the simple display of time.
There is something about a wristwatch complication that just captures the imagination. Maybe it's the fact that they are so rare or the fact that they can add such an interesting twist to an otherwise ordinary watch. Whatever the reason, we just love them! In this blog post, we will take a look at some of our favorite watch complications and discuss what makes them so special.
One of our favorite watch complications is the moon phase indicator. This is a complication that tells you what phase the moon is in, and it can be really accurate – some moon phase indicators are accurate to within a few seconds per month! We think this is an incredibly cool complication because it allows you to keep track of the natural rhythm of the world around you.
Today, moon phase complications are more of an aesthetic option than a functional utility. Though we love the classic design, some watch brands have gotten more creative in replacing the typical yellow gold moon set against a starry blue night sky with vivid, active renderings of our satellite.
Another favorite complication of ours is the tourbillon. A tourbillon is a rotating cage that contains the watch's escapement, and it helps to improve accuracy by averaging out errors caused by gravity. Tourbillons are notoriously difficult to make, and they are often considered to be the pinnacle of watchmaking craftsmanship. If you're lucky enough to own a watch with a tourbillon, such as the Bregeur Tourbillion Messidor, you can be sure that it is a very special timepiece indeed.
As a historical context, here’s an interesting and often overlooked point – the split balances employed in pre-Glucydur balance watches, which were coupled with steel balance springs, were extremely difficult to poise both statically and dynamically, and any poise errors would have been amplified by the balance's expansion and contraction. This means that tourbillions, originally thought to only be of real use in pocket watches, have more extensive use cases.
Finally, we have to mention the one, the only, the chronograph complication. A chronograph is a stopwatch function that is built into the watch, and it can be used to time events or track lap times. Chronographs are usually activated by pushers on the side of the watch case, and they often have sub-dials that keep track of elapsed minutes and seconds. Chronographs are both practical and stylish, which makes them one of watch enthusiasts’ favorite complications around.
Collectors are well aware of the time and effort that goes into producing intricately complicated watches, which is why chronographs may almost be worn as a badge of honor and an indication of appreciation for exquisite watchmaking.
Chronograph complications are grouped into a "family," although there are several variations within the class. A rattrapante (or split-second chronograph) is a type of fuséage timepiece that allows the user to time several occurrences in quick succession by utilizing an extra seconds hand. A 'flyback' chronograph, as seen in vintage pilot's watches such as the Breguet Type XX Aeronavale, has a quick reset and start function to begin measuring another occurrence of interest. Both are essentially the same, but they do it in such a different way from one another that it is almost impossible to compare them. This provides one more incentive to add more than one item to their collection.
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