The first of a two-part series exploring mechanical watches that do more than tell the time.
There comes a time in everyone’s watch appreciation journey where you’d want something more out of your watches. It could be a little or plenty, but whatever you desire, congratulations: you are officially ready to explore yet another dimension of horology—that of mechanical complications.
In the world of watch collecting, the term ‘complication’ refers to a watch that is equipped with additional functions beside time telling. Within this category of watches, there are minor complications, as well as major complications. As their names suggest, each connotes a different level of mechanical complexity with regards to function and construction.
In this post, we will be looking at minor complications. Minor complications complement a watch with simple—but useful—displays. These include the likes of small seconds indicators, basic calendar features such as date and moonphase indicators, as well as power reserve displays.
Though less technically complex compared to major complications, minor complications are just as fastidiously crafted. Mechanical sophistication, uncompromising performance, and decorative finesse are demonstrated in no uncertain terms by the following outstanding examples.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms established the blueprint for the modern dive watch back in 1953. Its technical capabilities—extreme water resistance, optimum legibility, anti-magnetism, and unmatched shock resistance and robustness—raised the bar on underwater tool watches back then, and continue to be upheld to this day.
To commemorate the Fifty Fathoms’ 70th anniversary this year, Blancpain is releasing three exclusive editions. The first of which is the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1. Limited to 70 pieces, the watch pays homage to the original with a 42.3mm steel case, along with looks that are almost identical to the 1953 model. A discreet date display at ‘4:30’ adds calendar functionality to its dive watch capabilities, driven by the high-performance automatic Calibre 1315 with 120-hour power reserve.
Tudor fans who fancy something regal often look to the Royal collection, which offers a dash of formality with its dress watch sensibilities. Distinguished by a sleek profile accented by a notched bezel, Roman hour numerals, and integrated bracelet with supple links, the Tudor Royal works just as beautifully at the office as it does on relaxed weekends.
This year, the collection welcomes new models bearing salmon and chocolate dials. Among our favourites is the reference M28603-0007, which features day and date displays. Modelled after the Rolex Day-Date that was launched in 1956, this modern Tudor iteration comes in 41mm steel and gold, and combines the utilitarianism of its forebear with contemporary refinement.
Chopard Imperiale Moonphase
Charting the waxing and waning of the moon, the moonphase indicator may be featured on its own, or alongside a suite of calendar indicators. Either way, the astronomical complication has the power to evoke the vast expanse of time and space with poetic flair.
On the Imperiale Moonphase, Chopard goes a step further by placing the complication on a pedestal. The 36mm white gold watch is set with almost three carats of diamonds surrounding a stunning aventurine glass dial that evokes the night sky. Amid the sparkling finery and a depiction of the constellations is the moonphase display at 12 o’clock, which not only pinpoints the position of the moon, but does so with such amazing precision that it requires only one correction after every 122 years.
Power Reserve Display
Glashutte Original PanoReserve
Glashütte Original is renowned for watches that exude gravitas backed by uncompromising performance and sublime elegance. The PanoReserve is a perfect expression of those virtues, recognised by Glashütte Original’s signature dial design that beautifully articulates the watch’s qualities.
Housed in 40mm steel, the dial features the time and small seconds displays on the right; their asymmetrical and intersecting sub-dials a trademark of the collection. Another well-known design feature comes by way of its large date window at ‘4:30’ and, as a lovely counterbalance to that, a power reserve indicator that fans out just above. The watch’s hand-wound Calibre 65-01 stores up to 45 hours of power reserve, which you can immediately ascertain at a single glance.
Omega De Ville Tresor Master Chronometer Power Reserve
Do not be fooled by the fuss-free aesthetics of the Omega De Ville Tresor Master Chronometer Power Reserve. Looking dapper in its 40mm Sedna gold case (Omega’s propriety red gold alloy), the watch features an elegant domed blue dial accentuated by thin baton hands and hour markers. Sub-dials at the top and bottom, for power reserve and seconds displays, respectively, lend balance and sobriety to the design.
The watch’s gentlemanly demeanour is fortified by serious mechanical prowess. A certified Master Chronometer, it boasts several high-performance and precision features, including superior daily accuracy of 0/+5 seconds deviation per day, resistance to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss, and 72 hours of power reserve, among others. While technically a ‘minor’ complication, the Omega De Ville Tresor Master Chronometer Power Reserve’s superlative qualities are far from diminutive.