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6 fantastic complicated watches that do more than just tell the time

From chronographs to perpetual calendars to dual time zones, here are six superlative watches that define the essence of complicated watchmaking

An ode to complicated watchmaking.(Courtesy Zenith)

By Bibek Bhattacharya

LAST PUBLISHED 26.04.2024  |  11:00 AM IST

The annual Watches & Wonders tradeshow in Geneva this year was all about complicated watches. These are the epitome of the art of mechanical watchmaking, where a timepiece doesn’t just tell the time, but also includes other functions. These could be something as useful as a chronograph, or a perpetual calendar, or it could be something that’s just a beautiful flex, like a moonphase indicator.

Now, while some of the super-complicated watches released this year aren’t yet available in India, there are so many that are. Here is a selection of six timepieces from various price categories that use mechanical movements to do way more than just tell the time.

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Zenith Chronomaster Original. (Courtesy Zenith)

Zenith Chronomaster Original: The iconic chronograph is often considered to be the first watch to include an automatic movement (in 1969)—the legendary El Primero. Zenith’s El Primero line remains as gorgeous and robust and accurate to this day, and modern case finishes add to the charm. Here, the Chronomaster gets a makeover with an added moonphase indicator, and a more unisex 38mm case size. Available on ethoswatches.com; 13,40,000.

Also Read The race to create the world's first automatic chronograph

Omega Speedmaster 38. (Courtesy Omega)

Omega Speedmaster 38: If the 1960s represent the peak of mechanical watchmaking, then one of the most iconic timepieces from that decade is the Omega Speedmaster. The mechanical chronograph was dubbed the ‘Moonwatch’ for being the first watch worn on the moon by Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969. While the Speedmaster has remained a centrepiece of watchmaking history, it Omega continues to update it. This particular Speedy shrinks the size from 41mm to 38mm, and adds an automatic calibre. Available on kapoorwatch.com; 5,45,900.

Montblanc Star Legacy. (Courtesy Montblanc.)

Montblanc Star Legacy: Montblanc is so well known for its writing instruments that its heavyweight watchmaking chops often go under the radar. But there is nothing unassuming about the Star Legacy. A nod to the days of pocketwatches, the beautiful and refined timepiece adds a pointer-date, day and month complication to timekeeping. Available on kamalwatch.com; 4,58,700.

Also Read It's complicated: The world of watch movements

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar. (Courtesy Jaeger-LeCoultre)

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar: Perpetual calendars (watch movements that tell the day, date, month and year) are one of the high points of haute horologerie. So it should be no surprise that the ‘watchmaker’s watchmaker’, the celebrated maison of Jaeger-LeCoultre would be one of the best at making one. The 39mm masterpiece in rose gold does all this with the beautifully finished automatic caliber 868/1. In the process, JLC has created one of the thinnest perpetual calendars, with an added moonphase indicator. Available on ethoswatches; 38,10,000.

Also Read Can you tell a moonphase from a perpetual calendar?

 

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Grand Seiko SBGM221G. (Courtesy Grand Seiko)

Grand Seiko SBGM221G: Since the 1960s, Grand Seiko has been carrying the flag of elite quality Japanese watchmaking in a field dominated by the Swiss. Since then, one of the cornerstones of the watchmaker has been its superlative handwound and automatic movements. One modern fan-favourite of Grand Seiko is this gorgeous GMT watch, with the automatic calibre 9S66. Finely crafted with Zaratsu polished case and lugs, it also comes in a svelte case size of 39.5mm. Available on grandseikoboutique.in; 4,10,000.

Breitling Navitimer B01. (Courtesy Breitling)

Breitling Navitimer B01: There are chronographs, and there is the Navitimer. An iconic watch for aviators from the time it was first released in 1954, the Navitimer continues to be Breitling’s bestselling model for a good reason. Because of the presence of the slide rule, You could say that this isn’t necessarily a watch, more a wrist-worn instrument that allows pilots to make all kinds of in-flight calculations, including fuel consumption, rate of climb and descent and much more. Even now, it remains a formidable instrument, with oodles of romantic charm. Available on artoftimeindia.com; 8,37,000.

Also Read The story of GMT watches and the rise of the Jet Age