The Ins and Outs of Watch Complications


As with any area of luxury goods, a vast amount of time and skill go into the making of high-end watches. If done properly, a good timepiece will not only be a tool for time keeping but also a beautiful work of art. This can push up the cost of a watch but considering it can be an accessory that gets such frequent use, it is worth spending a little more on a good watch.

There a several different aspects to a watch’s price: accuracy and precision of the movement (the mechanism that deals with keeping time), robustness of the timepiece, materials used, and any additional functions added, known as complications.

Enter the Complication

Telling time is crucial with today busy lifestyle so there should be nothing spared in the creation in of a good movement. Consider however the following scenario: you are conducting business between two time zones and need to keep track of the time difference between the two for conducting business efficiently. A simple watch movement won’t keep track of two time zones. Enter the complication. Now you have two different sets of watch hand, a separate smaller dial or some other solution to the problem. These additional complications are additional mechanisms added to the innards of a watch to produce an additional function. They can also cause a watch to be more delicate, but with proper watch servicing a good watch should last for more than a lifetime.

Complications fall into two sub-categories: horological and non-horological. The example given above would fall into horological, or regarding the metering of time. Any other functions not relating to the metering of time fall into non-horological, one example being a barometer.


Why Complicate the Solution?

The addition of additional complications will increase the price of a watch but produce useful results, as well as some incredible feats of craftsmanship. The history of the complication begins in the late 1700s and has since become central to the identity of horology and a useful means of differentiating between the qualities of watchmakers. Intricate complications take time and patience to design and produce, with the result often being a blend of functionality and elegance.

The Aesthetics of Complications

Good craftsmanship can create some breath-taking results. Considering every good outfit is completing by a quality timepiece, this is no secondary interest in the design of a watch. One of the best ways of seeing the intricacy required to bring complications to life is through skeletonised watches. A skeletonised watch is a mechanical watch were all of the moving parts are visible, either through the front of the watch, the back of the watch or a small cut outlining the dial.


The Functionality of a Complicated Watch

Shakespeare is credited with saying “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late”, a feeling echoed by many today. Complicated watches can go beyond solely measuring the time and keeping an individual up to date with their position in time. They can include timers, alarms and a multitude of other tools to help a person improve their timekeeping.

The Price of Complications

Complicated watches tend to command a higher price than simple movements but their practicality and style make it worth it. With a little care and proper maintenance they can become a family heirloom that will be cherished by later generations.

The Affordable End of Complicated Watches

Although they can often sell for large amounts of money, complicated watches don’t always have to cost an arm and a leg. One particularly well-regarded line is the Victorinox Airboss Mechanical Black. Comprised of three models, the three-hander Mechanical Black Edition is the most affordable version. The watch is a three hander with dials in both 12 and 24 hour time, with a further complication supplying the date. With a retail price of £775, the Mechanical Black fulfills the role an affordable complicated watch. Similar models are the SevenFriday P-series and the Autodromo Stradal, coming in at £670 and £800 respectively.


Luxury Complicated Watches

The Rolex Sky-Dweller is not the kind of watch that springs to mind when someone mentions the word Rolex. It is complicated – not a common practice for Rolex – with a surprising implementation of several complications. Available only in precious metals, the Sky-Dweller was released in 2012. It is an annual calendar, dual time zone watch, with all indications being set by the crown. The crown itself has two positions. Unscrew and pull the crown out to position one to wind the watch, or pull to position two to set the time, set the hour hand to local time or set the date. Differentiating between which indication is being altered depends on the position of the bezel.

The style is big and bold but not brash, with the Sky-Dweller commanding attention on the wrist. As with all Rolexes, make sure that watch servicing is completed by an accredited Rolex watch repairer. Considering the price tag of £25,400, good quality servicing is key to making sure you get your moneys worth.