Why Complications in the Movement Are Good

Completely Complicated: Additional Functions Of A Mechanical Clockwork

A complication in watchmaking does not describe an undesirable situation during an intervention, as in the case of medicine, but a completely desired additional function in a mechanical clockwork, which goes beyond the usual display of hour, minute and second. Complications can be described as function modules, which use the clockwork as a basis but are not part of it itself. According to this, a date display is a complication.

The complication reaches through the combination with the weekday, the full calendar function up to the annual and perpetual calendar. But also big date, jumping date changes, retrograde displays, moon phase displays, Chronometer regulation, seconds stop, chronograph, flyback and rattrapante, alarm clock, repetitions, percussions, timing or the display of several time zones up to the world time are considered complications. In simple, such as the date display or also the gear reserve display, one speaks of a small complication. The combination of several complicated complications, such as a chronograph with an eternal calendar and a repetition, is considered a great complication.

Manufacturers who build these types define large complications quite differently. Most describe the combination of three individual complications as “great complication”. For some, like A. Lange&Söhne or Audemars Piguet, there must be at least four. Patek Philippe has a different definition for a “Grande Complication”. Here also the individual complications such as the eternal calendar with retrogradem date or the Chronometer with Tourbillon and ten days of reserve as a great complication.

At the Tourbillon, the spirits divorced. As with Patek Philippe, it is often seen as a complication, but this is not quite true. The tourbillon is a special construction of the escapement and was once conceived to correct in pocket watches the negative influence of gravity on the accuracy of the gait according to INVESTTOPS. The Tourbillon is thus a clockwork and is not an additional function. Obendrein does not have a gear-optimizing effect on wrist watches. However, since it is complicated to implement, various watchmakers are still building it and regard it as a complication. In any case, it makes the watch more valuable and thus also more expensive, which of course also applies to complications: They increase the function value of a watch and thus also the price. The additional modules are called cadratures, which is either set on the clockwork or-which is the more elaborate solution-integrated into it. Kadraturists are responsible for their realization.