The Most Complicated Watches In The World
- 10th Jul 2020
If you have to tap a screen to answer, when someone asks you what’s the time then my dear reader, you’re a product of the 21st Century. But even amongst us are present such people who yet have the habit of checking their wrist-watches to check the time or their hands feel incomplete when they forget to wear their watches. We often forget or overlook the amazing craftsmanship that goes into creating a simple watch. Made from over a thousand minuscule components, all ticking together well, like a clockwork! It truly can be a marvel to see a watchmaker at work. Some watchmakers and watchmaking brands prefer to take it up a notch.
A complex watch remains to be one of the greatest achievements in Haute Horlogerie or fine watchmaking. While generally, we connote the word ‘complex’ with problems and negative meaning, in the horlogerie world, complex connotes skilled craftsmanship and prestige. A complicated watch is anything beyond the typical time-telling capability of a watch — a calendar, for example, or a moon phase or sunset-sunrise timings, retrograde date and so much more! The business of complicated watches is a flourishing business with limited editions, complicated watches and special editions. To add to it, are the brand rivals who compete for the world's most complicated watch position. Year after year brands like Breguet, Patek Philippe, Lange & Söhne, and Vacheron Constantin fight for this position at the world’s two major watch trade shows, SIHH and Baselworld.
This race to the finish line is never-ending and until then, we’ve got a list of the 5 most complicated watches in the world!
1. Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4
Franck Muller’s commitment to creating a magnificent complicated timepiece manifests in the beauty and logic of the dial. With a whopping 36 complications, all in a case that you can actually strap onto your wrist is Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4. It ousted the Patek Philippe’s Calibre 89 as the most complicated timepiece ever in 2009. The wristwatch is enclosed with the Cintrée Curvex™ case in 18 karat gold. It took Franck Muller full five years of research and development before he could create the first watch which was released to the American collector, Michael J. Gould, who paid a hefty sum of USD 2.7 million dollars and flew to Monaco for the watch.
This phenomenal watch has 1,483 components and proved to be quite a challenge. Not only did all the complications have to fit in well but also be visible and legible, and at the same time, not at the cost of its visual appeal.
The Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 is a by-order-only watch, available only in New York and Geneva.
2. Patek Philippe Calibre 89
All the best and the most expensive smartwatches and iWatches on one side and a Patek Philippe Calibre ultra-complicated mechanical watch on one side. Patek Philipe made sure that no leaf is left unturned on its 150th anniversary edition watch. The Calibre 89 watch showcased all its skills and complications that the watch brand housed. With not just some 20’s but 33 complications and 1,728 hand-finished and assembled components, in this case, the watch sure made it to the 5 most complicated watches in the world! Its complications spanned five functions- timekeeping, calendar, chronograph, sound, and operational functions.
For a watch so timeless, it sure took a lot of time to get created. The research and development alone took five years and four years more to come up with an acceptable, working prototype and took the collaboration of nine engineers and watchmakers.
Only four pieces of Patek Philippe Calibre 89 were made- one of each in yellow, pink, white gold, and platinum. The whole set was initially bought by a single royal family, but the collection was broken up in early 2000. There is a fifth watch- the original prototype of the Caliber 89, which is proudly displayed at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva and why not be so? It is after all the world’s most complicated watch.
3. Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie
Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie is another watch that topped the list and was heralded as the World’s most complicated watch. Even for a short period, this one sure got people marveling at its complexity and design. This watch has 26 complications covering, the time function, perpetual calendar function, a complex sonnerie chiming function and some more. But what strikes out in this watch is its basic perpetual calendar functions (displayed in an attractive manner) and the complex chiming functions. The sonnerie function is one of the most complex by far. The Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie is probably the only sonnerie watch in the world to play the entire Westminster chime melody as its chime.
The case of the Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie is in 18k white gold and has over 1300 parts all fitted together to create 182 tourbillon movements. The watch definitely must have taken a fortune as well as forever to manufacture and testing. No wonder the watch costs a whopping $2,50,000!
4. Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600
Vacheron Constantin is to watch what your Rolls Royce is to cars- classy and very, very expensive! The brand is known for its most complicated pocket watch ever- Reference 57260 pocket watch which was made to mark the brands 260 years of uninterrupted history. The pocket watch has 57 complications. 2,826 individual components, 242 jewels and if that isn’t mind-blowing then we wonder what is! Gaining inspiration from this watch, Vacheron Constantin created another most complicated timepiece- Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600. Now as the name suggests, the Celestia’s complication focuses on astronomical function. Other than the astronomical functions, it also has other complications like a perpetual calendar that won’t need adjusting till 400 years, a moon-phase, a tourbillon, sunset sunrise times, display which shows the length of day and night, a tide level indicator; and an indication of the seasons, solstices, equinoxes and zodiac signs.
The challenge in creating Celestia was to fit 514 components into a white gold case that measures just 13.6 millimeters deep and 45 millimeters. One of the world's most complicated watch, this classic watch carries the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva.
5. Lange & Söhne Triple Split
A. Lange & Söhne came on the market with a watch that the watch collectors called “Mighty Double Split” or the “Über Chronograph“, a timepiece with split seconds and split minutes. But at the SIHH 2018, A. Lange & Söhne came up with the Triple Split, an upped version of its rattrapante chronograph. The new ALS Triple Split features three rattrapante functions. In addition to being able to split the seconds and the minutes, it can now split the hours! Another ‘world’s first’ for the watch.
The EUR 139,000 watch is a limited edition and only 100 watches were created. This timepiece has a 43.2mm round case in white gold surrounding a grey dial and the combination of blue steel and rhodium gold for the hands gives an amazing contrast.