GUIDE TO GRAND COMPLICATIONS
Watchmakers LOVE to complicate things. These days, watches come in every style, shape, color, price, and special purpose under the sun.
Complicated watches are like the name implies, complicated. To better understand this idea, let’s establish a definition of a complicated watch. First, think of complications as extra features on a watch that goes beyond telling time.
Complicated watches have three or more special functions, these special functions fall into three categories.
Timing complications enhance a watch’s ability to measure time. They are most often found on a Chronograph style watch. The chronograph design measures time with great accuracy. Think of the chronograph function as a stopwatch. Pretty simple.
Don’t confuse the chronograph with a chronometer. COSC-certified on Swiss-made watch indicates it has gone through rigorous testing. The watch must meet very precise and specific standards. It is possible to certify a chronograph as a Chronometer. Look for the COSC designation on the dial or case.
You will usually see somewhere between one and three buttons around the case of the watch. These are pushers. Pushers start, stop, and reset the stopwatch function. These complications do not interfere with the rest of the functions of the watch. Stopwatches generally measure up to 30 minutes. Some will measure up to 12 hours. Read the recorded time from the small dials on the face known as sub-registers. Use the pusher for elapsed seconds, minutes, and hours when in stopwatch mode.
Striking complications are the alarm functions and repeater functions on the watch. These functions add to the capability of the watch. Alarms and repeaters are very popular and do not otherwise interfere with the watch.
The alarm complication is as simple as telling the watch to chime at a specific time you choose in the future. If you want to hear the watch chime at 6:45 am, the alarm function is your best friend.
Need to know the time and can’t look at your watch? Use the repeater complication on your watch. The minute repeater is a function that causes your watch to chime out the time on demand. Push the repeater pusher.
Depending on the watch, a repeater may chime for you on the minute, the quarter-hour, at five minutes and on the hour. Some will argue the repeater adds to the price and is not needed. Others say it increases the collectability of the watch.
An annual calendar is a common feature of a mechanical watch. An annual calendar displays the date of the month for a period of 12 months starting on January 1st.
A watch with an annual calendar displays the first day of the month. The calendar adjusts following months of 30 or 31 days. In order for this to display the first day of each month, he wearer resets the calendar on January 1st each year.
From there, the watch knows the order of months and number of days in each. You may need to correct on the first of March depending on the watch. This is because March follows February with only 28 days instead of 30 or 31 days. Make this correction by winding the hands forward and setting the watch for the correct day in March.
A perpetual calendar displays the correct date without the need for manual correction. The watch takes into account the different lengths of the months as well as leap days. The internal mechanism will move the dial to the next day. A perpetual calendar timepiece will not need manual adjustments till 2100. That year will not be a leap year, even though its number is divisible by 4.
A moon phase watch shows the current phase of the moon as you see it in the sky. A “moon phase” is the lighted area of the moon that is visible as it travels around the earth. This entire cycle of phases takes 29 and a half days, which is the average length of our calendar month. A month has 28, 29, 30, or 31 days depending on the year. Watchmakers make adjustments to improve moon phase accuracy.
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