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Complicating matters at Watches and Wonders
Watches and Wonders

Complicating matters at Watches and Wonders

Wednesday, 14 April 2021
By The FHH Journal editors
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The FHH Journal editors

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5 min read

Astronomical functions, automata, chimes, world time… complications require absolute mastery of mechanisms, as illustrated at Watches and Wonders.

Complication watches are to Haute Horlogerie what gastronomy is to dining: eliciting emotions through technique and expertise. Watches and Wonders takes us on a journey to discover some of these mechanical marvels.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar

The perpetual calendar complication returns to the Lange 1 which, true to tradition, has opted for an unconventional display in a 42mm pink gold case. Months are shown on a ring that rotates around the edge of the dial. Days are given by a retrograde hand, complemented by an outsize date. There is also a leap year indicator in an aperture at 6 o’clock. Ringing the changes is the day/night indication incorporated into the precision moon-phase display.

Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar © A. Lange & Söhne
Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar © A. Lange & Söhne
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar

Since 2014 Bulgari has forged a reputation for ultra-thin watches. This Octo Finissimo adds a seventh record to the list, for the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar. The in-house BVL 305 calibre succeeds in assembling its 408 components into a 2.75mm height, contained in a titanium case, water-resistant to 30 metres, that measures 40mm in diameter and just 5.80mm high.

Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar © Bulgari
Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar © Bulgari
Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono

In the world of complications, the combination of a chronograph with a perpetual calendar is seen as a technical tour de force. Collectors will recall that Chopard first unveiled its L.U.C Perpetual Chrono in 2016. This year’s iteration introduces a more contemporary, sporting personality with a case in grade 5 titanium. Chronometer-certified and hallmarked with the Poinçon de Genève, here is a watch for the “modern gentleman”.

L.U.C Perpetual Chrono © Chopard
L.U.C Perpetual Chrono © Chopard
Ferdinand Berthoud Régulateur Squelette FB RS

For this model, Ferdinand Berthoud has announced that production of the movement – which is also the first skeleton movement from the brand – will be limited to 20, with a choice of case shapes. The regulator-type display shows hours on a disk at 2 o’clock, next to the minutes subdial at 12 o’clock. Seconds are by a central hand. A fusee-and-chain mechanism delivers constant force to the tourbillon.

Régulateur Squelette FB RS © Ferdinand Berthoud
Régulateur Squelette FB RS © Ferdinand Berthoud
Greubel Forsey GMT Sport

The first Greubel Forsey watch on an integrated bracelet, this GMT Sport features a 24-second tourbillon inclined at 25 degrees. Prominent at 2 o’clock, it sits opposite the dual time display which combines with a rotating disk for small seconds. The three-dimensional globe, showing Earth from above the North Pole, indicates world time on a 24-hour scale and doubles up as a day/night indicator. World time is also shown more conventionally by a city disk on the reverse side.

GMT Sport © Greubel Forsey
GMT Sport © Greubel Forsey
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185

The superlative watch, this celebration of the Reverso’s 90th anniversary is a masterpiece in chiming mechanisms, astronomical complications, precision and compactness. Boasting 11 complications and six years in development, it is the first wristwatch in the world to display information on four faces, and the first to show the movements of the cosmos in such detail.

Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 © Jaeger-LeCoultre
Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 © Jaeger-LeCoultre
Montblanc Star Legacy Metamorphosis Limited Edition 8

Montblanc allows us to change the face of our watch on demand, thanks to shutters which are opened and closed by activating a slider on the side of the case. Shutters closed, this Metamorphosis shows world time on a globe representing the northern hemisphere. Open the shutters and an astronomical moon comes into view, rotating around the Earth in real time. Taking the place of the balance at 12 o’clock is Montblanc’s Exo-Tourbillon.

Star Legacy Metamorphosis Limited Edition 8 © Montblanc
Star Legacy Metamorphosis Limited Edition 8 © Montblanc
Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph Reference 5990/1R

Patek Philippe presents its Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph in pink gold. The right “hinge” protects the crown and the chronograph pushers, while the left ”hinge” has been replaced by pushers that adjust the hour hand for local time in one-hour increments. Home time is shown by an openworked hand. Both time zones have their own day/night indication. Completing these indications are subdials for the date and the chronograph counter.

Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph Reference 5990/1R © Patek Philippe
Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph Reference 5990/1R © Patek Philippe
Purnell Escape II Absolute Sapphire

The Escape II is fitted with two triple-axis spherical tourbillons or, in Purnell parlance, “spherions” that turn in opposite directions at the unprecedented speed of one complete revolution in 8, 16 and 30 seconds. In another world-first, this extraordinary mechanism takes up residence inside a 48mm sapphire case. The same sapphire is used for the movement bridges and for the dial.

Escape II Absolute Sapphire © Purnell
Escape II Absolute Sapphire © Purnell
Ressence Type 2N ‘Night Blue’

Hours, minutes and seconds on this Type 2N are read off three rotating dials, driven by an automatic calibre. Photovoltaic cells concealed beneath openings in the dial power the electronic component, which registers two time zones and also stops and starts the movement, if preferred using a smartphone app. Coloured lines in a subdial show green for the primary time zone and yellow for the secondary time zone, and also indicate when the watch is connected to the app.

Type 2N ‘Night Blue’ © Ressence
Type 2N ‘Night Blue’ © Ressence
Ulysse Nardin Blast Hourstriker

The challenge underlying this tourbillon watch was to position the striking mechanism on the dial side and produce a powerful sound. Ulysse Nardin achieves this thanks to Calibre UN-621 which leaves the hammers and circular gong visible from the front. To ensure the acoustic quality of the hour and half-hour strikes, which sound in passing and on demand, the heel of the gong is connected to a fine membrane, just 3/10th of a millimetre thick, which amplifies the sound waves.

Blast Hourstriker © Ulysse Nardin
Blast Hourstriker © Ulysse Nardin
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar – Planetaria

This unique piece, which is fitted with the new manual-winding 1991 calibre, features a perpetual calendar with a retrograde display for the date, day and month. It also incorporates three-dimensional representations of the northern and southern hemispheres on two titanium orbs that make one complete revolution in 24 hours, with a day/night indication. The movement is regulated by a double-axis armillary tourbillon.

Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar – Planetaria © Vacheron Constantin
Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar – Planetaria © Vacheron Constantin
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