Every month, in Right on Time, we’ll delve into the world of watch trends, provide expert advice, showcase collectors’ prized timepieces, interview fascinating individuals in the industry, and dissect noteworthy horological moments—whether they’re as grand as Rihanna’s influence or as unforgettable as those lingering in our thoughts. Because although this column revolves around watches, it’s ultimately a celebration of time and all the diverse meanings it holds for us.
In Mindy Kaling’s delightful high school comedy series, “Never Have I Ever,” there’s a memorable scene where a student attempts to recruit more members for her robotics club. During an open day event aimed at attracting new enthusiasts, she finds herself surrounded by a sea of exclusive individuals who mock a prospective recruit simply because she’s unfamiliar with the concept of a motherboard.
“I could definitely learn!” she insists. However, she doesn’t immediately join the robotics club (spoiler alert: or maybe she does eventually).
A similar scenario can unfold in the world of watches. The technical features within a watch are aptly named “complications.” If you spend too much time in a watch enthusiasts’ forum or go on a date with a guy whose entire identity revolves around his mechanical watch, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You might give up before even giving it a shot!
But we don’t want that to happen, whether it’s in the realm of robotics or watches.
So below, in Right on Time, we’ve compiled a list of essential watch complications you should be aware of. Watches are capable of much more than simply telling time, and comprehending their intricacies truly deepens your appreciation for them. I’m almost certain that a similar revelation awaits in the world of robotics as well.”
Many watches come equipped with a chronograph complication, essentially a built-in stopwatch. This handy feature lets you not only keep track of the current time but also measure how long it takes to complete specific tasks or activities, like timing a lap around a track. To use it, you typically find a second pusher (usually located beside the crown, the small knob at 3 o’clock), which resets the chronograph to zero.
Some notable watches that boast impressive chronograph functionalities include the Tudor Black Bay Chronograph, Rolex Daytona Cosmograph, and the Tag Heuer Monaco. These timepieces are renowned for their precision and performance, making them sought-after choices for those who value both style and functionality in their watches.
Ever found yourself physically in one place while your heart, or your loved one, resides in another? That’s precisely when the GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) complication comes to the rescue. Born in 1953 during the golden age of jet travel when pilots needed to juggle different time zones, this complication allows you to effortlessly monitor multiple time zones simultaneously. It operates using a second hour hand and a 24-hour scale on the watch’s bezel or dial. The primary hour hand can be set to indicate the local time during your travels, while the additional hour hand can be adjusted to display the time back at home or in another zone. Some watches even offer the convenience of tracking a third time zone.
Noteworthy GMT watches to consider include the Bremont Specialised Diver GMT, Hublot Big Bang Unico GMT, and, of course, the iconic Rolex GMT-Master II, originally designed for Pan Am pilots in 1955. These timepieces embody both style and functionality, making them ideal companions for globetrotters and individuals with hearts spanning across different time zones.
While there are various types of calendar watches, the perpetual calendar is undoubtedly the most exquisite. This intricate movement accounts for the length of every month, even February, and handles leap years with ease. Owning a perpetual calendar watch is a testament to luxury and precision; however, it’s worth noting that these timepieces come with a substantial price tag.
A perpetual calendar watch will maintain accurate datekeeping until the year 2100, which means you won’t need to adjust it during your lifetime. Subsequently, the fortunate individual who inherits your watch may be tasked with that responsibility.
Some exceptional perpetual calendar watches to consider include the Audemars Piguet 11.59, the Vacheron Constantin Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, and the Patek Philippe Grand Complications Self-Winding. These watches are not only marvels of horological engineering but also exquisite pieces of craftsmanship, representing the pinnacle of watchmaking sophistication.
This is your friendliest complication, basically what it says on the tin—a date display on a disc that appears under an aperture of the dial (usually at 3 o’clock, 4:30 o’clock or 6 o’clock). Unless it’s a more complicated annual or perpetual calendar watch you’re going to need to adjust it forward for any month shorter than 31 days. Some date window watches to covet include Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra, Rolex Day-Date and Cartier Tank Française.
Ahh, the moon phase. The most romantic of the watch complications. This one tracks the phases of the moon with a little moon symbol on the watch, showing the sunlit portion of the moon as seen on earth. It works via a disc with 59 ‘teeth’ that keep the moon phase in motion via the hour hand to align with the 29.5 or so days of a full moon cycle. It’s cosmic and charming and a reminder to look to the sky and the universe and all that exists beyond. Some dreamy ones include Jaeger Le-Coultre Rendez-Vous Classic, Breguet Classique 7787 Moon Phases and Longines Master Moonphase.
OK, this one is a super special one. It’s a complication that can chime the exact time of day (with different sounds for the hour, quarter and minutes) on demand by pressing a pusher or pulling a slider function. The magic happens via teeny hammers striking specific gongs inside the watch. Because of the complexity of the minute repeater watch only very limited quantities are produced each year and they have the price tag to match. You can find exceptional ones at the likes of Patek Philippe, Jaeger Le-Coultre and Breguet.