Any important gathering of watches will invariably lead to a discussion on the timepieces that most caught the horophile’s eye. The 2015 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie has been no exception. The verdict in ten outstanding watches.
In fake Breiitling watchmaking circles, definitions are often open to debate. What constitutes a “complication” is one such conundrum. The general consensus is that any function in addition to indications of hours, minutes and seconds is a complication. Strictly speaking then, automatic winding along with the various mechanisms employed to reduce positional errors in rate, such as the tourbillon or the karrusel, are not complications because they give no additional indication. Yet how often is the tourbillon described as the “king” of complications? In a similar vein, what should we understand by “grande complication“? The most widely accepted definition is a watch that combines three functions: a striking mechanism, astronomical indications, and a mechanism to measure short intervals. In its most classic configuration, a grande complication watch would thus incorporate a minute repeater, a Perpetual Calendar and a chronograph. Where this leaves the tourbillon is another matter for discussion and proof that in watchmaking, terms can be misused and lack… precision.
Cartier, at any rate, doesn’t make the distinction with its Rotonde Grande Complication Calibre 9406 MC. It took five years to develop and represents fifteen weeks of production, ten weeks of decorating and finishing, and five weeks of assembly. The result, says the brand, “is measured in millimetres. A thickness of 5.49mm for a self-winding mechanical movement that brings together three of the most prestigious Fine replica Watchmaking complications: a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater and a flying tourbillon. Of all Cartier watchmaking creations, this timepiece is the most complex.”
Jaeger-LeCoultre has achieved an identical level of complexity with its Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication which, in addition to hours and minutes, incorporates an orbital flying tourbillon and sky chart, a minute repeater with crystal cathedral gongs, and a 24-hour indication with zodiac signs, months and days. Jaeger-LeCoultre explains this ‘astronomical’ AAA Cartier Replica Watches for sale thus: “The counter-clockwise revolution of the flying tourbillon in 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds is a fascinating sight. The tourbillon whirls around the dial, to which it is fixed, like a capsule suspended in the stratosphere. To highlight the astronomical aspect of time measurement, the tourbillon does not indicate the passing of civil time, but instead that of sidereal time, the unit used by astronomers to follow the trajectory of heavenly bodies.”
Still in the complex realms of striking watches, the Royal Oak Concept RD#1 by Audemars Piguet is doubtless one of the most audible minute repeaters in the history of the wristwatch. It is the result of a research and development project launched in 2006 in collaboration with the federal institute of technology in Lausanne (EPFL). A similar feat of audible engineering comes from A. Lange & Söhne. Its ZEITWERK Minute Repeater is the first to combine a mechanical jumping numerals display with a decimal minute repeater: whenever the wearer triggers, by means of a pusher, the three-note striking mechanism he hears exactly the time displayed on the dial. IWC has chosen a similar type of display for its Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “75th Anniversary” which “brings together all IWC’s expertise in its in-house 89801 calibre, with a perpetual calendar featuring a leap year indicator and quick-action switch for the large displays as well as a chronograph with flyback function.”
In a whirl
The tourbillon, meanwhile, has lost none of its powers of seduction. Incorporated into an extra-thin skeleton movement, thanks to which the Piaget Emperador coussin 1270S can claim another record for thinness in its category, at 8.85mm high. Inclined at 25° and rotating in 24 seconds at Greubel Forsey whose Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision is the brand’s third invention, this time visible on the back of the cheap Omega replica watches online under a sapphire crystal dome. Cylindrical at Montblanc whose Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama with its triple time zone indication shows world time in the fascinating form of two rotating globes representing the two hemispheres.
Not one but two tourbillons at Roger Dubuis where the Excalibur Spider Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon makes a powerful statement. With its RM 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur, Richard Mille is there where least expected. A magnolia blossom at 7 o’Clock wraps its five hand-crafted and hand-painted petals around a flying tourbillon. Says the brand: “Working in passing or on demand using the pusher at 9 o’clock, the Magnolia opens and closes with rhythmic regularity in a delicate kinetic ballet.” As an ultimate refinement, when fully opened the entire flying tourbillon with its gem-set stamen lifts up one millimetre, exactly as the flower arches upwards to increase its chances of pollination. At this level of “complication”, quarrels over terminology pale into insignificance.