The most exquisite mechanical watches are desired for more than mere utility alone. Such timepieces encapsulate human ingenuity, emotional connection, and centuries worth of tradition, artisanship, and legacy. And when these timepieces are elevated with features that do more then tell the time, they are transformed into mini works of art.
This category of watches, known as complications, come in many forms. There are minor complications, which you can read about here, as well as major complications that we will be exploring in this post.
Major complications are exceedingly challenging to develop and construct. Among the most coveted examples include chronographs that can measure time intervals; minute repeaters that sound out the time on demand; perpetual calendars that automatically compute and display all the essential calendar information; and tourbillons that improve a watch’s accuracy by working against the force of gravity.
Only a handful of esteemed watch brands are able to produce major complications at a high level of technical sophistication and aesthetic refinement. These watches are further proof that horological appreciation—much like the appreciation of art itself—demands a deep understanding of tradition, creativity, and craftsmanship.
Moser & Cie. Pioneer Tourbillon Arctic Blue
Invented in 1801 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, a tourbillon is recognised by a cage that houses the watch’s essential regulating components, which rotates to counter the force of gravity that impacts timekeeping precision.
Modern tourbillon wristwatches are admired as much for their technical virtuosity as their theatrical displays, and H. Moser & Cie. delivers both with its Pioneer Tourbillon Arctic Blue. The watch draws attention to the vaunted complication while at the same time enriches it with the brand’s unique personality. Housed in a 40mm steel case, the tourbillon at six o’clock is set against a gorgeous Arctic Blue fumé dial with sunburst finish, a signature H. Moser & Cie. decoration. For added gravitas, the watch’s automatic calibre HMC 804 with three-day power reserve is developed and made completely in-house by the brand.
Omega Speedmaster Super Racing
Serious sports watch aficionados will be familiar with the chronograph. Created to measure elapsed times that are displayed via sub-dials, a chronograph lends itself well to tool watch-style creations such as dive and motor racing-inspired watches.
Omega’s Speedmaster Super Racing is one of the most technically advanced chronographs available today. The watch not only measures interval timings, but does so with unmatched accuracy. It is fitted with a device called ‘Spirate’, comprising a silicon balance spring that can be fine-tuned to 0/+2 seconds a day. As a certified Master Chronometer, the Speedmaster Super Racing is also impervious to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss. Looking every bit a testosterone-charged beast, the Speedmaster Super Racing is clad in 44.2mm steel case with black ceramic ring, and features a stunning dial decorated with the collection’s signature racing track-style minute track.
Breguet Quantième Perpétuel 7327
When it comes to practicality, no complication comes close to the perpetual calendar. Invented in the 18th century, the complication showcases the full suite of calendar displays at a single glance: the day, date, leap year and moon phase cycles. At the same time, a perpetual calendar movement automatically computes the differences between the length of the month.
Perpetual calendar movements are typically stacked with a huge number of components, making such watches rather hefty. Breguet’s Quantième Perpétuel 7327, available in 39mm white or rose gold, however, is unbelievably slim and refined. The in-house automatic movement that powers the watch is just 4.5mm in height. Yet, it packs all of the aforementioned perpetual calendar features, while guaranteeing precision and longevity with an advanced escapement fitted with silicon components.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater
A multi-sensory complication, a minute repeater sounds out the time on demand with a series of chimes denoting the hours, quarters, and minutes. Today’s chiming watches are valued as horological objets d’art, sought after by connoisseurs who evaluate these timepieces by the quality of their chimes.
Combining the traditional aural allure of chiming watches with modern horological innovations, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is unlike any on the market today. Introduced in 2016, the watch housed a hand-wound movement that is just 4.5mm in height. Despite the watch’s record-breaking slimness, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater’s chiming qualities are never in doubt, emitting loud and lingering crystal-clear chimes when activated. In 2022, Bulgari updated the groundbreaking model with a fresh iteration. Featuring the same dimensions, the 40mm titanium case, which is just 6.85m thick, is paired with a matte blue open-worked dial and structured rubber strap.
TUDOR Black Bay GMT
No watch lover should bear the inconvenience of travelling without a GMT watch. Short for ‘Greenwich Mean Time’, the world’s observation-based time standard, GMT watches display the time of two or more time zones at once, and are useful to ascertain both the home time, as well as the time of your current location.
TUDOR’s Black Bay GMT is one of those trusty travel companions that does the above with style and efficiency. The dial features two hour hands – one for the current time, and another that corresponds to the 24-hour bezel, which points you the second time zone. Driven by TUDOR’s in-house automatic Calibre MT5652 with COSC certification, this year’s version comes in a 41mm steel case with opaline dial that pairs beautifully with its ‘Pepsi’-style blue-and-burgundy bezel.
Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygene The 8000
Given that the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygene is inspired by the exploits of Reinhold Messner, one of the greatest alpinists and explorers of our time, it is fitting that Montblanc has endowed the watch with a world timer complication to express its spirit of mountaineering and discovery.
The world timer indicators are displayed via two rotating globes, representing the northern and southern hemispheres. Each is surrounded by a 24-hour scale and day-and-night indication. Additionally, a sub-dial at nine o’clock displays a second-time zone. While the globetrotting complication endows the 42mm titanium watch with technical distinction, its construction and design are just as astounding. The watch is encased without a trace of oxygen inside, which not only alludes to its mountaineering inspiration, but also helps prevent fogging and oxidisation of its internal components.