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Articles | Interview

Grand Complications - the most complicated watches

Very often, when studying different types of wrist time meters in various literary sources and various watch references, you can find such terminology as “Grand Complication”. This is great complexities in the mechanical watches. It would seem that everything is transparent, but in watchmaking it is not that easy. Next, we consider what kinds of watch complications are considered to be "grand" and why. Get ready for a deep dive into the incredible world of watch phenomena, the most daring experiments with the time, the risky and brilliant creations by the greatest watchmakers of the world. I hasten to assure you that the word "most" and "outstanding" will become the key characteristics of the watchmaking examples, cited by me below.

Preconditions of watch complications

Throughout his existence the man was not satisfied
Breguet Grand Complication (Ref. 1160) just by being financially secure, he had to be considered by others, by his associates to be so. All the world manufacturers of absolutely all goods, including the watch companies, have been relying on this fact. If you have something unique, original, a thing that no one else has - you belong to a special circle of the privileged. Thus, the super complex mechanical watches are the result of the watchmakers, striving for the highest level of craftsmanship, for combining the maximum amount of watch functions under the case of one model, to some extent violating the world-known laws of mechanics and taking a leading position at the watch market. Perhaps, choosing the most difficult path, the watchmakers hoped that they wouldn’t have any competitors. This rule works often, but not in the watch industry, as the talented craftsmen and brilliant professionals around the world are up-and-doing, and each new creation is a more sophisticated masterpiece. The ultra-complicated watches have always been taken as the greatest works of world horlogerie. Typically, these options of perfection are manufactured in strictly limited quantities, and some complicated time meters are exclusive and issued in a single copy, and the most famous collectors and the most ardent fans of watchmaking become their happy owners.
The creation of complicated pocket watches, predecessors of wrist ones, is inspired by the mechanical tower and wall clocks, which often contain a wide variety of functions, including astronomical. Of course, such huge clocks had a space "to let watchmakers go." But a pocket watch, the case of which has the size of a coin, is a different story. But, despite the limited spatial features, in the XVI century the world was already filled with a variety of pocket watches, which could be classified as complicated, and some - even as ultra-complicated. At that more complications were added in a certain sequence - at the beginning of complications birth the time meters were supplied with rather simple functions for time reading and chronographs, and then such rare astronomical complications, as the time equation function, began to appear. The next big step was the creation of so-called "striking” complications, today known as repeater, which have become the heart and the soul of the whole sphere of watchmaking. Since that time, the world watchmakers have begun to work hard on their creations, trying to surpass the famous watchmaking standards and demonstrate their incredible skills and unique talent in every possible and impossible ways. Thus amazing masterpieces, called “Grand Complications”, combining a huge number of functions in a limited space - in a small watch case, began to appear.

Legendary watch for legendary personality

Jean-Antoine LepineThe history of “GrandAbraham-Louis Breguet Complication” watch category starts from 1770, when watchmaker Jean-Antoine Lepine created for the French King Louis XV (Louis XV) a watch with minute repeater and perpetual calendar. However, one of the first ultra-complicated watches, containing a large number of complications, is the mechanical watch that Abraham-Louis Breguet was developing during several years for the big luxury lover, French Queen Marie Antoinette. It is the famous watch all over the world “Perpetuelle Grandes Complications”, the creation of which had begun in 1783. But, unfortunately, the future owner of that great masterpiece failed to take the priceless gift, as the Queen was beheaded in 1793 during the French Revolution, before the watch was completed. The Royal pocket watch from Breguet was made of pure gold, including plate, bridges, and wheels of movement, the dial of the watch was protected by the glass, made of natural rock crystal. As for the movement of the great watch, it was characterized as self-winding and provided with functions of perpetual calendar, equation of time, thermometer, minute repeater, independent second hand (chronograph module predecessor), and power reserve indicator. Another "bravo" to the genius watchmaker - Abraham-Louis Breguet!
However, the magnificent ultra-complicated watch “Marie Antoinette”, as well as its alleged owner, had a difficult life. In 1983, the mechanical masterpiece was stolen from a museum
in Jerusalem, where it had been kept forMarie Antoinette and Breguet watch a long time. At the same time the French government decided to cut down the old oak tree at Versailles, under which Queen Marie-Antoinette had loved to dream of during her vacation at her summer residence. One of the founders of the company “Swatch”, Georg Hayzek, has decided to preserve the memory of the Queen by making a box for the second piece of watches “Marie Antoinette” from the cut oak. The new "old" watch was almost completed in 2007, when they suddenly found the ancient royal time meter, stolen earlier, in Jerusalem. Interestingly, the watch company “Breguet” has not received a unique opportunity to examine the original, so while making the second piece the watchmakers used only archival data, records and drawings of Abraham Breguet. The double of antique complicated watch, called “Breguet Grand Complication” Ref. 1160, was presented to the public at the Basel World Exhibition in 2008.
The original watch for the Queen, no doubt, is incredibly complicated and wonderful, but I thought of an interesting question. Did horology reach such incredible heights as much as 200 years ago? And has the contemporary watchmaking felt any fundamental changes, because repeater and perpetual calendar are so far considered to be the most elite and difficult complications? And I’ve come to this conclusion: of course, major changes have occurred in the area of used materials, design methods and techniques, but the complications of today are very similar to previous ones. Someone does not agree with me, and perhaps he is right in some way, since there is no limit to the true perfection.

Role of Patek Philippe in Grand Complication history

Patek-Philippe watch for PackardThus, the "complicated path" was started by Abraham Breguet in the XVIII century, and the beginning is the most difficult and important thing. As the saying goes, the rest companies "took the hint," and figured out the secret of incredible success, so from the middle of the XIX century the watch market has expanded by unique watches of “Grand Complication” category, not numerous though. Combining multiple complications in a single model, the producers of those items challenged the design art, as well as the world craftsmanship of movement designing. Such examples as watches from Abraham Breguet and Jean-Antoine Lepin, became personal belongings of kings and members of high society exclusively, the same patternHenry Graves 1933 Patek Supercomplication is observed today. Some workshops and watch houses originally were founded to produce Grand Complication watches. A mandatory task for each of those factories was to create at least a few models of mechanical watches that would met the requirements of Grand Complication. The watch company that exists to this day - Audemars Piguet – can serve as an example of the manufactory, creating complicated designs. Another great watch house, which has lived until present days, is the company “Patek Philippe”, working in the field of grand complications, namely astronomical complications, since the early 1900s. By traditions of watchmaking, the complicated path of Patek Philippe started with designing pocket watches with complications, the number of which ranged from 10 to 16 in one model, for one of the esteemed clients of the Swiss company - American automobile tycoon James Ward Packard.
The first complicated watch “Grande et Petite Sonnerie” from Patek Philippe was created in 1916, it contained minute repeater with three gongs, perpetual calendar with Moon phases and retrograde date and power reserve indicator, displaying power reserve of repeater and split chronograph. The friend of Ward Packard and an ardent collector of watches, an American banker, Henry Graves, in an attempt to beat his "competitor" ordered a more complicated watch model from Patek Philippe. The creation of the mechanical watch “Supercomplication” in 1933
was an “earthshaker” at the Swiss manufactory and a great historical moment in the entire watch history. The prefix “Super-“ in the name of the model speaks for itself. It was a carriage clock (by the way carriage clock is a version of pocket watches, which differs by a more massive case, also it is heavier than pocket watch almost twice) with a map of the sky, which reproduced the position of the stars above Graves’ house in New York. In 1999, that Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbilloncomplicated clock was sold at auction for a fabulous price - $ 11 million and was considered to be the most expensive clock ever created in the world until 1989.
So, in 1989, in honor2000 Star Caliber of the 150th anniversary of the Swiss watch company, the masters of Patek Philippe created another complicated masterpiece that surpassed “Supercomplication” of 1933 – Caliber 89, the pocket watch (or carriage clock) weighing about 1 kg, containing 33 complications and limited by four pieces: of pink and yellow gold, and platinum.
Further designs of Patek Philippe in the field of complicated watch movements are the caliber R27 of 1995 (with manual winding movement and tourbillon) and Star Caliber 2000 (21 complications) with a map of the sky, phases and orbit of the Moon, indicators of sunset and sunrise, perpetual calendar and function of the equation of time and repeater, able to strike the melody of Westminster clock; and then the watch “Sky Moom Tourbillion ref. 5002” - a model with two "faces", with minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar, map of the sky, and the phases and orbit of the Moon. Of course, we cannot say that this watch can be worn in everyday life, as its size exceeds the generally accepted standards. This watch is rather a work of art that should be exhibited at museum. The Swiss watchmaker “Patek Philippe”, who played a major role in the history of Grand Complication watches, is not going to "rest on its laurels," and firmly intends to move forward, continuing its complicated way, started many years ago.

"Hierarchy" of watch complications

Throughout this article, as our attentive reader
IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar has already noticed, I have never given any common definition of excellent Grand Complication watches. No, I have not forgotten. Strangely, there is no officially accepted definition, but there is one common interpretation of such great watches. Grand Complication - watches with at least three complications, each of which refers to three different groups. In my opinion, on the one hand, this definition is too narrow, and on the other hand - too common. Nevertheless, it is given by watch experts as a main one. Here we consider the existing groups or varieties of watch complications, but first it must be noted that watches that are able to display only current hour, minute and second are simple movements. These traditional "mini-complications", as indicators of date and week dayf, chronographs and self-winding function, cannot serve as an indicator of complicated watches. In addition, there are cases when certified chronometers are not watches of Grand Complication either due to the lack of "required" complications.
More about the "required" complications. First of all, the watch complications are divided into nonhorological (from the word "horology” - a set of Sciences about time metering) and Grand Complications. The first group includes complications that are completely unrelated to the measurement of time. These are such additional functions as thermometer, barometer, compass, altimeter, and others. The question of whether to consider similar functions in calculation of the total number of complications in a specific watch causes conflicting opinions of time experts. However, many experts in horology incline to believe that the above "mini-complications" should not be taken into account. It has come down to the fact that some experts even exclude the power reserve indicator from the list of major grand complications, saying that this indicator simply does not show the time. I was sincerely surprised to hear about it, because, anyway, the power reserve is closely connected with the information about the time "storage".
The most complicated and worthy complications in watches are divided into three groups, as it is noted above: timing complications, astronomical complications, and striking complications. The first type includes the following complications: simple chronograph, chronograph with countdown function, split-chronograph, chronograph with independent second hand, chronograph with "jumping" second hand. The astronomical complications are as follows: simple calendar, perpetual calendar, Moon phases, equation of time. And finally, the striking complications include alarm, quarter repeater, half-quarter repeater, five-minute repeater, minute repeater, strike. Of course, this is not all complications that exist today. I’ll list a few more luxury features, popular recently: indicators of Solar time, multiple time zones, Patek Philippe calibre 89 watch with Grand Complicationssidereal time, leap year, star map, quick date, zodiac signs and more. Maybe I missed something. Of course, we can’t pass by the tourbillon, which has become so familiar to all fans of watches! By the way, some experts refer the tourbillon to one of the ways to improve the movement, but not to the category of complications, i.e. the tourbillon in their opinion is a necessary element, a forming part of luxury watches movements. That's how smoothly this great invention by Abraham Breguet has passed from the category of sensations into the category of matter-of-course. But I could not find the opinions of these experts on advanced tourbillons (flying tourbillon, carousel and minute tourbillon, resonance tourbillon and tourbillon, rotating in three planes), the creation of which is not easier than the design of, for example, repeater. Perhaps, they will say that this "newfangled" tourbillon is simply an improved "detail" of watch movement. Well, I will not argue.
Reflecting on what is a "real" complication and what is not, I asked one more question: how the watch complications’ hierarchy is built and what watch "complication" is at the first place by importance, and what - at last. As it turned out, there is no certain hierarchical pyramid. Thus, if to imagine a dispute between two watches: "What is your perpetual calendar to my minute repeater?", it is obvious that it won’t lead to anything. Both sides will present their positions and each will remain of the same opinion. Indeed, any attempt to build a pyramid of the watch complications importance seems to be dead-end. An interesting fact is that some sources call even the second hand a watch complication, they say some watches don’t have even the second indicator. Surprisingly, Grand Complication - such an amazing group of watches that capture the spirit and strike the imagination, but there is no exact definition, relating to their functions. The conclusion: the watches “Grand Complication” are incredibly mysterious time meters from both points of view of their great features and of their design process! As you might guess, the design and creation of wristwatches from “Grand Complication” category are an incredibly difficult and laborious process, which must be given special attention in this article.

Birth of concept

Stephane BelmontNowadays there are soJeager LeCoultre Reverso a Tryptigue many technically complicated wristwatches that their uniqueness has become usual for us. We sometimes cannot even imagine how much time and effort is spent on creating a similar model. Of course, none of the watchmakers will tell his own special secrets and methods of manufacturing the most complicated time meters, although we do not need to know this amazingly complicated process in detail. We’ll take a look at the general principles of Grand Complication creation process, because even here everything is incredibly difficult. All complicated wristwatch models undergo similar stages of design. First a marketing program is created, which determines the fundamental phases of wristwatch development. This program, among other points, considers the philosophy of the watch company, its target audience and specific, unique features of future models of watches. In an interview, the Marketing Director of the Swiss watch company “Jeager-LeCoultre”, Stephane Belmont, has kindly agreed to share some of his "little" secrets. According to the experienced market specialist, after developing a program the designers, technicians and watchmakers take up the work. All ideas for creating models of complicated watches are commented by each of the employees with enthusiasm, thus, acquiring with many interesting details. Creating such watches is such a serious task that sometimes the adjustments are introduced even in the company's marketing program, and it happens that the company’s schedule changes. Sure, it's all done without compromising the quality of future watches.
Steven ForseyThe representatives of another famous Swiss manufactory “Greubel Forsey” admit that their company produces only thirty copies of watches per year, working not on quantity but on quality, even though the word "quality" cannot fully describe Greubel Forsey's products. Here theGreubel Forsey GMT word "perfection" is more suitable. Steven Forsey, one of the founders of the company, says that his manufactory produces watches at the test laboratory EWT, where each model “goes through fire and water." According to the experienced specialist, design and creation of each model takes about five years. A common step in the creation of Grand Complications throughout the watch industry is the design of the concept. This word means an "experimental watch" to Stephen Forsey that is a watch, on which the manufacturer is experiencing his own mechanical inventions. Only after that the company decides whether to launch this model in production or not. "Concept watch" - a term that is widely popular among the most famous watch brands, which produce watches of “Grand Complication” category. So, Stefan Linder, the Head of Production at the Swiss watch company “TAG Heuer” explains that the concept watch is almost the same as the concept cars. Even if the concept watches have been highly appreciated by the public, they are not immediately launched into production, because they have to undergo a series of tests, and the watchmakers will have to carry out numerous studies. From 2002 to 2005, the Swiss watchmaker “TAG Heuer”, presented to the public four concept models of watches (such as Swiss concept watch “TAG Heuer Monaco V4”), which are already at the market. Stephane Belmont from “Jaeger-LeCoultre” says that for him personally the concept watch is a chronometer, which appearance can make a marketing revolution. It may be that some concept watches will never "meet" their customers, but their contribution to the world horology will be invaluable.


Stefan LinderAccording to watchmakersconcept watch - TAG Heuer Monaco V4 around the world, the design and creation of usual traditional wristwatch take about two years on average, and the creation of complicated watch - at least 4-5 years. Complicated movements are designed much longer, but everything depends on the level of complexity of future watch, the number of watchmakers, technicians and designers, involved in the development of this project. At the world watch market the first place in “Grand Complication” watch creation speed is taken by the famous Swiss watch company “Jaeger-LeCoultre”, wide experience of which allows the watch manufactory producing grand watches every five years. But the record was held as follows: in honor of its 75th anniversary the watch company “Jaeger-LeCoultre” designed and released its Swiss watch “Reverso a Tryptigue” for a record amount of time - less than three years. And here we are dealing with a true movement, which deserves the title of “Grand Complication” one hundred percent. In order not to be unfounded, I will note that the men's wristwatch “Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso a Tryptigue” is made of platinum, equipped with 18 functions and three dials, one of which shows the usual time (24-hour indicator), the second one – the astronomical time, astronomical calendar, Moon phases, signs of the zodiac, equation of time, sunrise / sunset and map of the sky over the house of its owner, and the third dial displays perpetual calendar and retrograde date scale. The movement consisting of 700 parts has a 48-hour power reserve, manual winding and frequency of 21 600 al/h. Stephane Belmont, the Marketing Director of “Jaeger-LeCoultre” shares the secret of such great success with the fans of the company: "Success and speed of manufacturing complicated watches to a greater extent depends on whether the company orders any items and materials from external suppliers or not. We use only in-house movements and produce all the necessary elements within our company, so we spend significantly less time for the manufacture of watches, and the quality of products is much higher. Over 35 skilled craftsmen work on one complicated model.” Of course, we cannot but give credit to the level of technical equipment of the Swiss company “Jaeger-LeCoultre”, thanks to which the process of creating complicated watches is greatly accelerated. Moreover, the company has what to compare, because until 1990 the specialists of the former East German factory “Jaeger-LeCoultre” used drawings and sketches, made by hand. After the fall of the Berlin Wall new advanced equipment was purchased and the process of watches production went into the hill, with a rapid pace.

Complications — art for itself

A.Lange & Sohne split-chronographWe would like to sayBreguet Tradition 7047 Fusee Tourbillon about the role of great complications in the modern world. Thinking about this interesting subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that the complications in the XXI century are the monuments of the period of human history, when the very powerful time and moments, associated with it, were kept only in watches. For example, the perpetual calendar helped not to miss an important holiday and not to angry God. By the way, think about it, the perpetual calendar will be eternal, if you wind it for during 300 years. The function of second time zone helped the traveler not to get confused or lost in time. Chronometer saved from death in the depths of the sea, repeater was created to give the current hour late at night in pitch darkness, when one did not want to light a candle, rather than to brag about it to friends. Anyway, repeater is not a ringtone on the phone, and being with a noisy group of friends you won’t even hear it. Tourbillon was created for pocket watches, which were usually worn perpendicularly to the earth surface, did not experience the deleterious effects of gravity. So, now the watch complications are an art for art's sake. What the watchmakers achieve through an incredibly complicated movement is much easier to achieve by other available means. Worldwide, there are systems of world time control, observatories, satellites, "great and mighty" Internet. Finally, in any situation it is possible to use a mobile phone, which has recently become incredibly "smart". So why do the watchmakers return the archaic devices and movements, which have long been forgotten because of their uselessness? For example, at the international exhibition Baselworld 2010 the world-known watch company “Breguet” presented a watch with chain drive and fusee (the men’s Swiss watch “Breguet Tradition 7047 Fusee Tourbillon”), which reminds of lever principle, which a few centuries ago was invented by Leonardo Da Vinci (by the way, the company “A.Lange & Sohne” is also fond of fusee). The answer is obvious: now, when mechanical devices are gradually replaced by electronics in all spheres of human life, the watchmakers have an opportunity to earn a great name, using mechanical calibers and grand complications as a decoration. But anyway, no matter what the critics and fans of electronic gadgets say, these mechanical adornments are truly magnificent! Now you will understand everything yourself.

Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 — perfection in original "cover"

Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4The first masterpieceFranck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 watch movement of modern horology, which I want to present you, is the product of the famous Swiss watch company “Franck Muller” under the title “Aeternitas Mega 4”. The Swiss men's wristwatch “Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4” "met" its happy owner in November 7, 2009, at the official presentation of the model in Monte Carlo. The first buyer of the complicated wristwatch, Mr. Michael J. Gould, arrived from Colorado, USA, with his family and friends to get himself a priceless treasure from the hands of Franck Muller and Vartan Sirmakes, co-owners of the company “Franck Muller”. At the award ceremony 400 guests, who came especially for that occasion from all over the world, were presented. The men's watch “Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4” became a kind of culmination of the Swiss watch company’s great project, which began in 2004 and lasted five years. This Swiss watch from Franck Muller can boast of tremendous amount of complications – 36, 25 of which the viewer can see on the dial and back case of the watch. By the way, the picky watch critics insist that there are only 23 "real" complications. There again - it depends on what is considered to be a complication, and I'm talking about official data published in various reliable sources. I will not use colorful epithets and laudatory odes to the address of this unique watch, I’ll only give you staggering figures: the men's watch “Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4” consists of 1483 individual elements, and the extremely accurate movement works with 99 rubies. Accordingly, the price of this time meter is also staggering - 2.7 million dollars.
So, let’s see the specifications of the unique model.
tourbillon with three axises by Frank Muller The case is made of 18-carat white gold, it has the original form of “Cintree Curvex”, which literally can be translated as "curved barrel". The admirers of Franck Muller, of course, are intimately familiar with this form of case, which has become one of the components of Franck Muller watches form-factor. The case dimensions are very "modest", considering the number of complications - 42 x 61 x 19.5 mm. Anyway, these dimensions are not the designer’s whim, but technical necessity. Compare at least with a pocket watch (or rather a carriage clock) “Patek Philippe Caliber 89”, which weighs more than a kilogram and has 33 complications. The dial of silver “Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4” is guilloched with a pattern "sun rays". Within the watch there is an automatic movement FM 3840 QPSE, representing a single-button chronograph with Flyback function, “flying” tourbillon (such a curiosity for a watch of this level, we can’t pass it by either) and "striking" complication - Westminster carillon, consisting of four gongs and four hammers. The power reserve makes up about 3 days. The appearance of the dial makes all the spectators feel confused, as it is so loaded with various indicators and hands. Well, it’s quite natural - 36 complications! So, having lost count a few times, I still derived the figures - 19 hands (actually, here the hands show everything, except the year indicator), and 5 discs, one of which shows hours, the second - minutes, and the third is a 24-hour indicator, two discs - indicators of GTM. Also on the dial there is an indicator of strike and an indicator of big/small strike, indicators of date, day of week, year, phases of the Moon (the error is only one day for a thousand years), leap-year, hundred-year cycle and an indicator of the equation of time, paired with a perpetual calendar . The image of watch is completed by a strap, made of genuine crocodile leather and buckle of 18 carat white gold.

Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 watch function

By the way, the Swiss watch “Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4” set another great record that didn’t concern the complicated movement. This men's watch has become the most expensive watch in the world, sold not at auction but directly. With its grand invention, the Swiss company “Franck Muller”, which already had been one of the leading watch companies in the world, literally "jumped" on the victory podium. Perhaps, one of the watchmaking art connoisseurs say that such extra-complicated watch is "too much", besides, the original "cover" of this watch is also recherche. As they say, opinions differ. Well, I am personally shocked and sincerely admire the highest level of technical sophistication, professionalism of the watchmakers and designers, who have done a great job. I would call this watch "an ultra-complicated complication", which took a bold form and thus conquered the whole watch world. The name of the watch contains the word “Aeternitas”, which means "infinity." This is also very symbolic, because such watch cannot but leave a wide trace in the history of horology, which will be remembered forever.

Complicated" Solar System of Ulysse Nardin

Speaking about the contribution of the well-known Swiss watchmaker “Ulysse Nardin” in the world system of mechanical watch complications, we can’t but note as many as three models of watches, issued by the company one after another. Only considering this "trinity" as one, you can have a complete picture of the high-level time meters and degree of their perfection. They are men's wrist watches “Ulysse Nardin Astrolabium Galileo Galilei”, “Ulysse Nardin Planetarium Copernicus”, and “Ulysse Nardin Tellurium Johannes Kepler”, which belong to the category “Grand Complication” with very complicated astronomical complications. The release of this ultra-complicated collection has caused a vivid interest all over Europe in the production of Ulysse Nardin, which brilliantly managed to "rise from the ashes" after a severe crisis at the manufactory.

Astrolabium Galileo Galilei Planetarium Copernicus Tellurium Johannes Kepler

So, the first astronomical ultra-complicated model from Ulysse Nardin is the Swiss watch “Astrolabium Galileo Galilei”, representing a wrist mini-version of astrolabe, an instrument with which the ancient astronomers determined the position of celestial objects. Astrolabe in ancient times was a bulky device, based on the principle of stereographic projection. Besides the fact that the men's watch “Ulysse Nardin Astrolabium Galileo Galilei” is a miniature surveillance system for heavenly bodies, it shows the ultra-precise earth time. It is estimated that over 144 000 years, the automatic movement of caliber UN-97, built in the given time meter, is less than a day slow, and its power reserve is 42 hours. A quite "tiny" watch case of 40-mm diameter, made of 18 carat gold, has become a "shelter" for the movement with the following complications (standard hours, minutes and seconds are not counted): day of week, month, Moon phase, sunrise/sunset, Moon rise/set, dawn and dusk times, position of the Moon, the Sun and stars, solar and lunar eclipses.
The second grand watch from Ulysse Nardin is “Planetarium Copernicus”, representing a mini-model of the Universe, a small planetarium, located on the dial. This smaller version of the Universe changes with time. With the knowledge of the position of the planets, the owners of the watch, trusting prophecies, can make their own horoscope. An automatic caliber UN-80, built in a platinum case of 41-mm diameter, gives life to the watch. The functions - hours, minutes, month, sign of the zodiac, the planets position to the Earth and the Sun, the Moon, rotating around the Earth, perpetual calendar. The Swiss company “Ulysse Nardin” has released 65 additional copies of this watch, the dial of which is made of a rare meteorite, discovered in Greenland in 1896. This is an amazing watch that deserves careful attention and admiration, as two models, presented above, have been included in the "Guinness Book of Records" for good reason.
And finally, the last model of the magnificent trilogy is the Swiss watch “Ulysse Nardin Tellurium Johannes Kepler”, which is able to track the movement of the Earth around the Sun. With this watch you can follow the life of the globe, determine its day and night parts. You can calculate the longitude of the day anywhere on our great planet. The watch functions - hours, minutes, month, sign of the zodiac, sunrise / sunset, solar and lunar eclipses, the Moon, orbiting the Earth, and the Earth, orbiting the Sun and seen from a point of the North Pole, perpetual calendar. The movement is an automatic caliber UN-87, its power reserve makes up 42 hours. All Grand Complications have found place in the case, the diameter of which increased by only 1 mm (43 mm) - as they say, "the more the merrier."

Ludwig Oechslin

An extremely beautiful trilogy from “Ulysse Nardin” owes its appearance a genius man and great inventor Ludwig Oechslin, who is called "brains" of the company or a "nutty" watchmaker. Indeed, like all geniuses, Oechslin is slightly eccentric, he never parts with his working tool - a calculator, with the help of which he makes all his brilliant calculations. The inventor admits that he hasn’t been taught holorogy, he studied astronomy, archeology, philosophy and history, and later the "profession of a watchmaker found him." Ludwig Oechslin sees no obstacles to his goal, he is not afraid of difficulties, as a result, all his works are a standard of ultra-complicated excellence. Some of our readers can come in bewilderment, because, according to the definition of “Grand Complication” watches, the trilogy of Ulysse Nardin does not really fit this elite category. Let's look at these watches from the other side - can anyone call what Oechslin embodied in life a simple watch? Forget about the definition, which is also not exact, and just enjoy the beauty and magnificence of unexcelled "Trilogy of Time" from Ulysse Nardin.

Audemars Piguet Tourbillon Repeater Chronograph — complications in the form of skeleton

Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon Repeater Chronograph (Ref. 26050OR.OO.D002CR.01)When considering a special "privileged"Audemars Piguet Calibre 2874 category of wristwatches we cannot pass by the Swiss watch company with a rich history - Audemars Piguet. Since the manufactory “Audemars Piguet” was initially created to release watches of only “Grand Complication” category, it is simply has to maintain its great status of "complications creator". Judging by the genius results, Audemars Piguet brilliantly copes with the task. According to the types of complications, designed by Audemars Piguet, I will notionally divide all complicated products of the company into three groups: wristwatches with perpetual calendar, wristwatches with repeater and wristwatches with tourbillon. Of course, the specialists are not afraid of bold experiments and create truly magnificent works of horlogerie. One of the masterpieces is the men’s watch “Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon Repeater Chronograph” (Reference 26050OR.OO.D002CR.01). Despite the seemingly modest appearance of dial, this model is one of the most complicated watches in the entire catalog of the Swiss company. I’ll start by saying that it is an interesting model, all complications of which are clearly seen through the skeletonized dial. Inside the platinum case (there is also a version in pink gold) with a diameter of 43 mm and a height of 12.5 mm the masterfully executed movement with manual winding of caliber AP 2874, working with a frequency of 21 600 al / h and with 38 stones, unsuccessfully tries to hide from the gaze of admiring spectators. The power reserve makes up approximately 48 hours. By the way, in this model you will not see the familiar hexagon, which has become a distinguishing feature of Audemars Piguet – the precious case has a classic round shape. Through the sapphire crystal and "transparent" dial the perfectly finished movement can be seen: the bridges and plate are made of nickel silver – an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel, resistant to oxidation and providing maximum work of the watch’s "heart".
The level of movement finishing, hand-decorated with “Cotes de Geneve” pattern and with the technique “Anglage”, emphasizes exclusivity of the artwork. Let us leave all disputes relating to weather the tourbillon should be referred to watch complications or not, and note that on the dial at "6" hours, the first complication of the model “Audemars Piguet Tourbillon Repeater Chronograph” - graceful minute tourbillon with a second hand on its cell – is situated. The 30-minute chronograph counter is at "3" hours. The button on the case "animates" the matchless, so-called "jumping" hand of the chronograph. Finally, another complication is the great minute repeater, which begins to "speak" at the request of the owner and is adjusted by a lever on the left side of the case.
As the watchmakers say, watch is a place, where complications cannot be excessive. Obviously, the company “Audemars Piguet” completely agrees with this statement. I would call the above model complicated classics, standing before us in the form of skeleton and opening its owner all its sophisticated and precious soul.


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