Watch guide – a guide to watch complications

Watch guide – definition of watch complications

The accepted definition of a watch complication is simply any function on a timepiece that does more than tell time. This applies from alarms, tachymeters, chronographs, moon phases, calendars, and anything and everything in between.

Watch guide – the sought after watch complications

Watch guide – watch complications – The minute repeater

Watch guide - watch complications - The minute repeater

Before the advent of phosphorescent dials and hands, telling the time in the dark could be very tricky. The repeater, an extraordinarily complex watch feature that repeats the time to you through a series of chimes. The minute repeater does so to the nearest minute, while quarter repeater chime to the nearest quarter-hour. The more accurate the repeater the harder it is to construct, raising its value and collectability.

Watch guide – watch complication – Calendar

While most wristwatches for men have a small aperture to display the current day, you can also find calendar complications in the annual and perpetual varieties. An annual calendar displays the day, month and year, and only needs to be adjusted once annually to account the leap year. A perpetual calendar, on the other hand, features a good deal more gears and cogs than its annual counterpart, and will accurately display the day, month and year until requiring adjustment in the year 2100.

Watch guide – watch complication – Moon-phase Calendar

Originally found only in large longcase clocks, this complication was eventually introduced to pocket watches for men, and has been a mainstay in personal timekeeping ever since. While functionally useless ever since the internet has been invented, the moon-phase complication is a charming reminder that the art of science of timekeeping came from the movement of celestial bodies.

Watch guide – watch complication –Tourbillon

Tourbillon is a French word for “whirlwind”, a tourbillon is a fascinating little gadget that is usually positioned so it can be easily observed by the wearer, and through it displays no information whatsoever.

Watch guide – watch complication – Chronograph

In the everyday term, this is called the stopwatch function. It is usually operated by a bezel-mounted pusher button and is a popular inclusion in sportier wristwatches like the Omega Planet Ocean.

Watch guide – watch complication – Astronomic display

This kind of complication has many variations, from subtle stellar indicators to miniature planetariums. Most of the time, the mechanics behind these displays are so complex that only professionals are able to adjust the settings.

Watch guide – watch complication – Time-zone

Having more than one time zone on your wristwatch can actually be useful if you are a traveler. There are quite a few methods watchmakers use to achieve this complication. The simplest is to pair an additional hour-hand with a bezel that bears 24-hour hand indices and can be rotated to match the desired time zone.

Watch guide – watch complication – Equation of time

A feature appealing almost exclusively to horology nerds, the equation of time displays the difference between the “civilian time” and the apparent solar time.

Watch guide – watch complication – Dead-beat seconds

Perhaps the most iconic complication of all, the refers to a second-hand which pauses between counting the seconds, a feature commonly seen in inexpensive quartz and automatic watches for men.

Watch guide – extra complications

Watch guide – Recent advances in technology have spawned watches with GPS capabilities and that can sync with your Bluetooth phone, but when you remove the back of the case, you aren’t amazed by its battery or computer chip. This is the difference between complicated timepieces. When you view the movement of a complicated watch through its case-back, you’ll see technical innovation and precise engineering. The combination of several hundred tiny gears, jewels and springs enable the timepiece to complete incredible functions; functions that are assembled by hand and not completed by a computer chip.