This is the category where only the best of the best can participate.
If you're a watch company and do not have a watch in this category, you are not a top-tier watch brand. Period.
You may make no-nonsense, reliable, tough, even beautiful looking watches. But to be even considered part of the truly top-tier, you must have a watch in this category.
Of course, what makes it so hard to compete in this category are the technical requirements in general. And this is why only the best of the best compete. It's the category, in other words, that really does separate the men from the boys.
And technically speaking, a complication simply refers to a function other than telling time. So a chronograph is a complication, telling the date is a complication, or displaying the moonphase is a complication, etc.
What is spectacular about this category is that a watch in this category must provide at least 3 complications all in one.
So, a watch that obviously tells time, but in addition has a minute repeater, and a chronograph, and is a perpetual calendar. Thats a true complication watch.
Furthermore, not all complications are created equal. Some are far more difficult to develop than others. As a result, this category looks to watches that have at least 3 complications, but serious complications.
Things like a proper perpetual calendar that isn't just an automatic, but tells you the day, date, month, year, AND leap years, and for about 500 years. This complication means the wearer will never have to set anything for its entire life as long as its kept wound.
A minute repeater is also extremely difficult to make well. It's a blast from the past before watches could be read in the dark, but it's adding a sound to what is otherwise a silent instrument. It will chime on the hour, quarter hour, and every minute. And it will have complex patterns for each.
A moonphase is another beautiful complication that adds some graphics to a dial.
And most recently, Constant Force watches have reinvented the Tourbillon and are down right spectacular.
This is what a complication watch is all about, and as such, one last requirement is that the watch have prestige. It may be harsh, but I'm not interested in a Citizen Grand Complication. What I want is one from (again) the truly top-tier houses.
So here we go:
IWC Portuguese Siderale Scafusia ($750k) - This watch took nearly a decade to make and is one of only 2 (maybe 3) watches in the world with a Constant Force Tourbillon Escapement. The key here is that after wound, as it goes through it's power reserve, the 'force' or 'power' remains constant. Thus, making the movement much more accurate right across it's power band. Not just when it's fully wound.
It also offers Sidereal Time, which basically is a time-keeping system that astronomers use using the motion of the Earth relative to distant stars. They use this to determine the direction to point their telescope in to view a particular star.
The Sacfusia also has an awesome Perpetual Calendar and just for fun, a complete celestial chart (which can be customized to boot) on the back side of the watch.
And this amazing watch also comes with a $10k watch winder and an even more amazing price of around $750k.
To learn more about this watch, here is a direct link to the IWC website.
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionelle c.2253 ($500k) - Some may have asked why I haven't mentioned Vacheron Constantin that much throughout these posts.
In response I'd like to emphasize the reason has nothing to do with how awesome this watch company is. What ends up happening with me, is that often times, there's always another watch at the same elite level, from say Patek Philippe or A. Lange & Sohne, etc., that is just a little more me.
In other words, if I had to list the top 3 or 4 watches in each category, mosy likely, there'd be a Vacheron Constantin in each category.
As it stands; however, this is the first category where I have included a Vacheron watch. And what a watch it is.
It should be no surprise that Vacheron Constantin provides one of our contenders in this ultimate category. They are one of the oldest watch companies around (maybe the oldest), and they've always been considered part of that "Holy Trinity" of watch companies.
This Patromony Traditionelle Grand Complication is nothing short of spectacular!
It's look and feel is far more traditional than the IWC, which is never a bad thing, and just like the IWC has a Perpetual Calendar, and a Tourbillon (although not a Constant Force Tourbillon).
In addition, it also offers an Equation of Time complication, which calculates the difference between mean solar time and apparent solar time used by sundials.
It also displays Sunrise and Sunset, and an ever popular Power Reserve indicator.
Not bad, and all for only $500k, which is about $250k less than the IWC.
Crazy... but beautiful!
To learn more about this watch, here is a direct link to the Vacheron Constantin website.
Patek Philippe Triple Complication 5208P-001 ($1million) - But the winner has to be one of the many amazing Grand Complications from Patek Philippe.
In this case, their gorgeous 5208P. This watch provides it's lucky wearer the following list of complications:
- Minute repeater
- Monopusher chronograph with 60-minute and 12-hour counters
- Instantaneous perpetual calendar with aperture displays: Moon phases, Day, date, month, leap year and day/night indication in apertures
- Chime with two gongs activated by a slide piece in the case
- Interchangeable full back and sapphire-crystal case back
- Case is humidity and dust protected (but, not water resistant)
...and is housed in a 42mm Platinum Case.
All of this, like the other contenders does not come cheap. It's the most expensive option in my list at One. Million. Dollars... (think Dr. Evil for effect).
And while there really isn't a way to compare complications that much among the three contenders (and even others) here, what the Patek Philippe has that others do not, is that it's a Patek Philippe.
In other words, if I am going to spend $1million on a watch, it's not going to be anything else.
To learn more about this watch, here is a direct link to the Patek Philippe website.
Next week, I came back down to earth (a lot) and discuss the Ultimate Beater watch.