In horology, the study of timekeeping, a complication is any feature of a watch other than the simple display of hours and minutes. Complications can display anything from today’s date to the current time in all of the world’s time zones.
Complications are what give timepieces identity in the watchmaking world. They’re the special functions displayed on a watch’s face to enhance or simplify the wearer’s life. They can serve multiple complex functions and may even take years to create.
Here are some of the complications to keep out eye out for when shopping for a timepiece.
The perpetual calendar is the most complex type of calendar feature in watchmaking. It’s also one of the most useful complications in all of horology. It displays the day of the month, the day of the week, day, date, month and year in leap year cycle and it only needs to be adjusted once every 100 years. If kept wound, a watch with a perpetual calendar like the Big Pilot’s watch Antoine De Saint Exupery edition, will not require any adjustments until the year 2100 at the earliest.
Tourbillons are the pinnacle of fine watchmaking. The tourbillon (French for “whirlwind”) was created back when wristwatches hadn’t been invented yet and pocket watches were still all the rage. The problem was that these watches spent a lot of time positioned vertically in a gentleman’s pocket or lying horizontally on a table. Being stuck in these positions for long periods decreased the accuracy of the watch, so this rotating cage was invented to keep the escapement in constant motion.
Tourbillons are usually finished by hand and made up of more than 40 parts using lightweight metals like aluminum and titanium. Making them requires a special set of tools, a tremendous amount of skill and a lot of patience — some take up to 18 months to make.
A double chronograph watch displays two stopwatches that can be used at the same time. It has two second hands, one on top of the other. One hand moves continuously while the other one can be stopped, started or reset to zero. The first push releases both hands. While one hand continues registering the time, the other hand can be stopped over and over. A double chronograph also has what’s called a return pusher, which will stop both hands and bring them back to zero. IWC Schaffhausen’s Pilot Antoine De Saint Exupery edition is a great example of a sleek double chronograph timepiece.
Retrogrades display a factor of time in a ½ circle or ¼ circle action in which the hand cycles back to the starting point rather than making a full rotation of dial. In the Drive De Cartier 2nd time, the retrograde displays the second time zone.
World Time Zone
In the past, travelers were forced to constantly adjust their watches as they moved from place to place. The World Time Zone feature changed all that. It’s made up of a rotating inner bezel with 24-hour display and an outer bezel listing the major cities in each of the 24 time zones. This complication makes it easy to know what time it is in every part of the world at a glance.
If you’re in search of a luxury timepiece and want more information on the complications that are available, visit the watch experts at Eiseman Jewels. They’ll steer you toward the perfect piece that you’ll be proud to show off for years to come.