Top 6 watches with unusual and interesting complications

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This Sunday, we take a look at the unusual, interesting and sometimes whimsical complications of our little corner of mechanical watches.

Top 6 watches with unusual and interesting complications

Complications are what makes watches interesting. Yea, this and finishing. The old adage of watch collecting is “Finishing. Finishing and finishing”, an analogue of real estate’s “Location, location and location”. But the tickle factor for watches is provided by complications. These may be traditional complications like those we discussed in 2023, but today our attention is on the unusual and interesting. So without further ado, andiamo!

Yema Yachtingraph Tourbillon Mareographe

Interesting watch from Yema. The small independent is located in Morteau just over the French border, not far from the Swiss watchmaking town of Le Locle. They have been making interesting watches for a while and have been on our radar. Watches from their Traveller micro-rotor, introduced in end of 2022 to the design and manufacture savoir faire in Urban Traveller. They have dedicated resources to produce their movements in their facilities in Morteau (Manufacture visit coming soon!), with the ability to label the watches as “Made in France”. We see this interesting high value add in-house movement with the CMM.20 and also in the CMM.30 which features the tourbillon and tide gauge. The origin of these movement is with BCP Tourbillons, and the brainchild of Olivier Mory. The movements are made by Mory in his facility in Neuchâtel with components made by Yema in Morteau (the movement plates, for example are made in France by Yema), case, dial and hands sourced from Swiss suppliers and with final assembly in Morteau.

Their latest addition to the catalog is their Yachingraph Maerographe Tourbillon, combining the tourbillon to a tide gauge. The tide gauge is rather interesting and very few watches feature this useful complication, especially for boating use. The case is in bronze, an alloy with associations of the seafaring kind, and the watch is equipped with a double dome sapphire crystal, a unidirectional count-up sapphire bezel, 10 ATM water-resistance, high anti-magnetic resistance (2,000 Gauss) shock-resistance (5,000G), and a 105 hour power reserve. Quite impressive. Even more impressive is that the watch is pitched to retail at CHF 10,000. We are in line for a review sample. Of course, with the intent to tell you all about it in a comprehensive review when we have spent time with the watch and photographed it.

Krayon Everywhere

We stay with the nautical theme, and with the independents. This time, with Remy Maillat with his Krayon Everywhere. The complication on which the Everywhere is built in is super interesting. It is able to mechanically calculate and display sunrise and sunset times at any specific location. Enter the latitude, longitude and timezone, and the mechanism uses the date and month which is already mechanically encoded within to calculate sunrise and sunset times. These are displayed in sectors representing day and night which move and change size to show the times on the outer dial’s 24-hour scale. The 595 purpose-made components composing this masterpiece are all hand-finished using traditional haute horlogerie techniques. Flip the watch over, and the movement impresses as well!

A unique Krayon Everywhere with baguette diamonds on the bezel. Case is in white gold.

The watch has a less complicated and consequently less expensive sister called the Anywhere, which reduced the ability to set the sunrise and sunset from anywhere in the world to a specific location chosen by the owner. The Krayon Anywhere is driven by the 432-part, 55-jewel Calibre C030. The number of components is down from the 595 parts and 85 jewels found in the Everywhere’s Universal Sunrise & Sunset (USS) movement (from which the Calibre C030 was derived from). And while the Everywhere is price upwards of CHF 600k, the Anywhere has a retail target starting at CHF 138k.

IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar

We have already spoken volumes about the IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar. There is much we love about this watch. Starting off with the Portugieser base which to our eyes has perfect proportions and aesthetics. On top of that, we build a secular calendar, which is more complicated than a “standard” perpetual calendar. And still on top of that, the moon phase display which only requires a one day adjustment every 45 million years. We are not even sure if there will be homo sapiens then, as our species will definitely have evolved elsewhere.

And there is more! The use of glass, frosted and lacquered white on the underside, as the material of choice for the main dial is refreshing. And the separate glass sub-dials to serve as the displays of the secular calendar seem to float effortlessly over the main dial is very pleasing indeed. Flip the watch over, and the impression continues to build while gazing at the movement. Though not by a stretch haute horlogerie in the finishing department, it is a tour de force of innovation to achieve this complication. But don’t get us wrong, the watch is still soberly finished to a high engineering level. We particularly liked the visuals provided by the huge centrally mounted rotor supplying the motive power to keep the movement fully wound.

And at a intended retail price of CHF 150k, we think this is a rather reasonable ransom for a watch with such impressive credentials of combining the secular calendar with record breaking moon phase display packaged into a 44mm case which looks aesthetically very pleasing.

Jacob & Co Bugatti Tourbillon

Next, Jacob & Co. Always a trailblazer with complications which are unusual, the Jacob & Co catalog has plenty to pick from. Anything from their Astronomia, Twin Turbo, Casino, and Opera would meet the curious complications tag. But our pick is the later of the two Bugatti collaborations – the first being the Chiron and the now the Tourbillon. We love it that even as the watch is inspired by the car, the car is inspired by the watch. It even bears the name Tourbillon, though not just as in name. Many elements from the car takes cues from the watch. For example the instrument cluster and the time display, tourbillon and power reserve indicator on the watch are inspired by each other.

And of course, the complication in question is the engine automaton, made in sapphire crystal, and showing the V12 engine in motion at the push of a button on the case. This is a magnificent spectacle. We are sure of this, even though we have not yet seen the Tourbillon in action. But based on the animation video and what we already know of the Chiron’s similar automaton made on the W12 engine. Both movements are made by Concepto. And priced at EUR 340k, the watch seems to be a bargain, especially for someone considering buying the car (EUR 3.6M).

Harry Winston Opus 3

Throwback to from way back to 2003. Vianney Halter was trailblazing with his ingenuity. His first blush with fame was with the incredible looking and out of this world aesthetics found in his Antiqua. But for us, the work which takes the cake is the Opus 3. Released in 2003 as part of the Opus Project by Harry Winston, then helmed by none other than Maximillian Büsser (now of MB&F), the project leverages on the financial might of Harry Winston to showcase independent watchmakers. A concept which was not new, even then, as the Goldpfiel project (where Vianney Halter was also a participant) proceeded it by several years, released in Baselworld 2001. But even for Goldpfiel, Vianney showed a simplified development over his Antiqua with innovative and different ways to display the time.

With the Opus 3, the time indication is complicated, even though it only shows the time and date. The time is displayed digitally, via a jumping mechanism which is shown in six circular apertures on the dial side. A playful and ingenious (words which also accurately and succinctly describes Vianney, the man himself) mechanism is added (“just for fun”, Vianney’s own words) to count down the last 4 seconds before the execution of the minute jump. Even the way this is displayed is interesting…look away those with trypophobia, but for the rest of us, the upper row of port holes show the AM/PM indicator and doubling up as countdown indicator for 4 seconds each minute, the date (tens), hours. And on the lower row the tens of minutes, the date (units) and minutes.

Breguet Reine de Naples Cœur

And a ladies complication! The base is Breguet’s masterpiece for the ladies – the Reine de Naples. This sets off the watch with as much beauty as one can bear. The egg shape and the elegance of this masterpiece is indeed one of the most beautiful ladies watches ever. We are not alone in this view. The collection is one of the most popular in the Breguet catalog. But the 2021 Cœur is the one which fascinates. The basic watch has a rotating disc which displays the hour digitally within an aperture. And a heart shaped hand shows the minutes. That’s it…only H and M. But with a mother of pearl case, embellished with tiny heart shaped minute markers and with a diamond encrusted egg shaped bezel.

See the animation in a video.

But what makes this interesting, and indeed on this list is the mechanism to execute the romanticism of the minute hand which is in the shape of an expanding and contracting heart. The time telling function is unabated by this complication, remaining intuitive and easy to read. The disc carrying the hour indicators rotate continuously, and is visible through a beautifully trimmed aperture on the dial. And the graceful, sweeping minute hand comprises of two blades which make up the shape of a heart, expanding and contracting as it traverses the dial. This is a beautiful visual, as the hand lengthens and shorten, makes the heart shape expand and contract tracing the unique egg shape of the Reine Naples case/dial.

We understand the watch is now sold out, but retail at launch in 2021 was SGD 66.2k.

Concluding thoughts

Yup, these are the six watches with complications which are out of the norm, and which continue to tickle our imagination and feed our appetite for more. What is next, what will be new? What would you like to have?


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