‘Most wristwatches are made for everyday wear. Then there are more extravagant wristwatches. Ones that aren’t just timekeeping devices. They’re pieces of wearable art. These are five of the most complicated wristwatches in the world.’
Most wristwatches are made for everyday wear. They may have a few bells and whistles. But for the most part, they’re a timekeeping device. They resemble what you’d expect an analogue clock to look like. Then there are more extravagant wristwatches. Wristwatches that are highly complex. Ones that may not look much like a wristwatch at all. Ones that aren’t just timekeeping devices. They’re pieces of wearable art. And, they’re only available to a select few collectors. Ones who have the budget and connections to obtain such special pieces of horology. These are five of the most complicated wristwatches in the world.
IWC Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia
In 2011, IWC debuted their most complicated and most expensive wristwatch: the Sidérale Scafusia. This unique model is part of their iconic Portuguese collection. One of the features that makes this wristwatch special is its subdial. It displays sidereal time. This is based on the Earth’s rotation around a fixed star and differs from the solar-based 24-hour day. Another notable feature is the constant force tourbillon. This allows the movement to work against torque fluctuations and issues related to positional rate variations. On the back of the case are two other key complications. It features a star chart display that can be customized to any location as well as a perpetual calendar display.
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600
Vacheron Constantin unveiled their most complicated wristwatch in 2017. Since 2012, the brand developed the model as part of a top secret project. The result was the Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600. This custom model features a whopping 23 complications. As the name indicates, they’re astronomically focused. It showcases civil, solar, and sidereal time. It also houses a perpetual calendar, a moon phase, a tourbillon, displays showing the length of day and night, and a tide level indicator. In addition, it features an equation of time, sunset, and sunrise times as well as an indication of the seasons, solstices, equinoxes, and zodiac signs.
Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie
In 2017, Greubel Forsey also introduced their most complicated wristwatch: the Grande Sonnerie. This model is the brand’s first chiming complication. A “grande sonnerie,” or grand strike, is a complication that chimes the time “in passing,” or “en passant.” When the “grand strike” is activated, it chimes at the top of each hour. It also times the hour plus the number of quarter hours past the hour at every quarter hour. In addition, it features a minute repeater. This allows the wristwatch to chime “on demand” to the nearest minute when the minute repeater is triggered. One of the most impressive aspects of this highly complicated wristwatch is its slim case. It measures only a fraction of a millimetre thicker than the brand’s notable 24 Seconds Tourbillon Contemporain.
A. Lange & Söhne Grand Complication
A. Lange & Söhne first announced plans for its most complicated wristwatch at the SIHH conference in January 2013. By December that year, the brand finally unveiled a formal prototype. However, the Grand Complication didn’t make its official debut until three years later in 2016. The remarkable model is powered by a movement made up of an impressive 876 parts. For reference, this is four times that of the brand’s popular Datograph. The Grand Complication features both a grand and petite sonnerie, a minute repeater, and a perpetual calendar with moon phase as well as a monopusher, split-seconds chronograph with 1/5 second foudroyante.
Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime
Patek Philippe is no stranger to building ultra-complicated watches. They released the latest version of their iconic Grandmaster Chime in 2016 with the Reference 6300G. The 6300G came just two years after the Reference 5175R. The 5175R was developed in honour of the brand’s 175th anniversary in 2014. It was only made in a limited edition of seven pieces – six for exclusive clients and one for the museum. The 6300G features the same calibre with over 1500 individual components as well as 20 complications. However, while the 5175R was already quite impressive, the 6300G got an update with an all new case material and slightly different design.
You likely won’t spot these models on someone’s wrist across the pub or even on one of your favourite celebrities. Still, we can’t help but marvel at (and envy!) such brilliant horological masterpieces. If your curiosity and lust is sparked just as much as ours, be sure to stay tuned to our blog in the coming months. We’ll be exploring some of the most complicated pocket watches in the world. Plus, if you’re eager to learn more about all these impressive complications, we’ll also be diving deeper into the fine art of watchmaking and explaining exactly how these intricate complications work.