Or, perhaps we should say it’s complications, and when it comes to watches it’s very much a case of the more, the better!

As all you watch nuts will know, a complication is any function above and beyond the hours, minutes, and seconds that a watch offers the wearer. Here we take a look at some of the most popular complications you’ll find today.

Simple Watch Complications

Moon phase

This showcases the different phases of the moon, usually through an arched or circular aperture on the watch dial. Some are more intricate, with stars and even constellations in the background. The most complex moon phase functions offer the moon’s phases in both hemispheres.

Multi-Time Zones

Typically with this function, a second-hand tucks away beneath the hour hand and appears on the dial when only when the wearer needs to know local and home time. Triple and multi-time zone watches often have other markings and arrows to showcase the added zones.

Simple Calendars and Annual Calendars

The simplest version showcases the day of the week and the date, usually via two small apertures on the dial. The next step up from a simple calendar is an annual calendar. With this function the mechanical parts track the date, shifting automatically through months that have 30 or 31 days, however at the end of February, the wearer needs to adjust the date to March 1st manually.

Medium Watch Complications

World Timers

This complication indicates the time in the 24 main time zones that are separated in hourly increments. The finest world time watches feature an outer ring that lists the main cities in these zones. Most also offer a day/night indication with some brands even having a world map in the centre of the dial, for aesthetic appeal.

Chronographs

A chronograph is simply, a watch that can time an event – much like a stopwatch. It can be started, stopped, and returned to zero to begin again, all with the push of buttons located on the side of the crown, or from a single button called a monopusher. There are also fly-back chronographs where the timing hand automatically returns to zero without the need for another push of the button. The most sophisticated chronograph is a split-seconds chronograph (also called a Rattrapante), wherein the watch can time multiple events that start at the same time but end at different times.

High Watch Complications

Perpetual Calendar

This is the more advanced version of the simple calendar and the annual calendar. It tracks the day, date, month, leap year and so much more – automatically taking into account the months with different end dates, including February and leap years. They will typically be accurate until the year 2100 when the leap year is skipped in order to align the calendars with reality.

Tourbillon

The tourbillon escapement compensates for the effects of gravity on the watch when it is in different positions on the wrist. Today there are many new tourbillons that feature double and triple axis to compensate for all positions on the wrist. There are even gyroscopic tourbillons that rotate at different speeds and angles.

So, why are they called complications? Simply because they “complicate” the watch and watchmaking process!

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