Ultra-Complicated Watches - Unlimited Sophistication

Jan 08, 2008

Watches for Collectors and Admirers
Ultra-complicated watches appeared as a result of watchmakers' desire to unite the amazing number of functions in one watch case, thus challenging the laws of mechanics. These timepieces are perceived as the ultimate expression of the art of watchmaking. They are produced exclusively in very limited numbers. Some ultra-complicated watches are made only once for passionate watch collectors and admirers of horological exploits.

Inspired by Mechanical Clocks
The creators of the initial pocket watches were inspired by the mechanical clocks that often comprised a wide variety of functions, including astronomical indications. Consequently, already in the 16-th century, the horology world boasted numerous watches relevant to the category of "complicated" and even "ultra-complicated".

Since then, watchmakers have worked hard trying to surpass the known limits of their art and demonstrate their skills in the best possible way. Watchmakers have been exploiting new possibilities of combining the biggest number of functions in the limited space of a watch case.

'Marie-Antoinette watch' by Breguet
Among the earliest most celebrated examples you will discover an ultra-complicated watch created by Breguet. The unique timepiece was commissioned for the Queen of France. Its development was finished in 1827.

The timekeeping creation was meant to feature every known complication of that time. The 'Marie-Antoinette watch' comprised a stunning number of functions, including a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater, a power reserve indicator and an equation of time.

The legendary pocket watch was followed by other timekeeping masterpieces, the majority of which was given birth in La Vallee de Joux (Swiss Jura), one of the best-known birthplaces of complicated watches. The most prestigious watchmaking brands do their best to introduce the most complicated watch ever created.

Most Notable Examples
The watchmaking exploits that are of particular importance in the history of watchmaking are the "Leroy 01" launched in 1904 that was equipped with 20-25 complicated functions, depending on the way they are counted, and the "Graves" introduced by Patek Philippe in 1933 that boasted the remarkable 24 complications.

It was also the Patek Philippe Company that developed the most complicated pocket watch ever - the Calibre 89 revealed in 1989.

The one-of-a-kind watch comprised 33 rare complications, including the secular perpetual calendar and Easter dates.

Vacheron Constantin Tour de l'Ile Wristwatches
As for the area of complicated wristwatches, Vacheron Constantin, having celebrated its 250-th anniversary in 2005, commemorated the occasion by unveiling of the "Tour de l'Ile" watch. The unique creation represents the world's most complicated double-face watch.

In the heart of the Tour de l'Ile there beats the movement composed of 834 parts. The two dials of the watch feature 16 complications. You will find the following functions on the list of the watch's complications: an hour, quarter and minute repeater, sunrise and sunset times, perpetual calendar, moon phases, tourbillon, age of the moon, equation of time, and a representation of the night sky.

Besides the unique demonstrations of savoir-faire mentioned above, watchmaking companies introduce a lot of remarkable examples of "grande complication" watches that offer fewer functions, but are meant to provide simplicity of use, legibility and functionality.

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