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SIHH 2019 - Top Five Complicated Watches

SIHH 2019 Top Five Complicated Watches

Discover the five Grand Complication masterpieces that have marked the 2019 SIHH.

1. Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

We have seen wristwatches incorporating two balance wheels for obtaining either precision (such as Breguet’s Double Tourbillon 5347 and MB&F HM9 Flow), a high precision chronograph (TAG Heuer Mikrograph) and two time zone displays (Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance). Now, what other features can one achieve with two balance wheels?

Well, Vacheron Constantin’s Traditionelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar offers a new answer as to why “two is better than one”. The “twin beat” refers to the two balances of its in-house Calibre 3610 QP that can alternate between the high frequency of 5 Hertz (36,000 vibrations per hour) or at the lower beat at 1.2 Hertz (8,640 Hertz).

Top Five Complicated Watches

Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar © Vacheron Constantin

As such, the wearer of the Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar via the pusher at 8 o’clock can either opt for “Active” mode with the balance beating at 5 Hertz for normal wrist time or “Standby” mode at 1.2 Hertz when the watch is not being used. By switching to “Standby” mode and using less energy, the maximum power reserve can be extended to at least 65 days. This explains the mode selector indication between 8 and 9 o’clock on the dial.

Such a feature allowing the watch to “hibernate” is extremely useful for mechanical manual-winding perpetual calendar timepieces that aren’t used frequently as it eliminates the inconvenience of setting the correct calendar indications each time the watch stops.

2. A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Date

Lange’s digital time-telling wonder, the Zeitwerk, made its debut in 2009. It was the brand’s first mechanical wristwatch with precisely jumping digital displays for the hours and minutes, and the constant-force escapement. To commemorate its 10th anniversary (2009 to 2019), the good folks at Lange have equipped the Zeitwerk with a new in-house Manufacture Calibre L043.8 manual-winding movement and a date display.

This explains why it is called the Zeitwerk Date. Lange fans expecting the brand’s characteristic outsize date will be in for a disappointment. It was “impossible”, the brand concedes, to integrate a conventional date display, let alone the outsize date, with the hour and minute numeral discs with the time bridge on the dial.

Top Five Complicated Watches

Zeitwerk Date © A. Lange & Söhne

As such, Lange got around the problem, literally, by having a glass ring with printed Arabic numerals for the dates (1 to 31) around it on the dial. A small coloured segment in red below the date ring makes one step around it exactly at midnight. Date settings are made via the pusher at 8 o’clock. Is this date indication, what the brand describes as an “extra function” on the Zeitwerk Date a complication? Likewise, is the characteristic Lange outsize date a complication? For us, the answer to both is “yes”.

Another new feature with the Zeitwerk Date is the pusher at 4 o’clock for advancing the hour indication. As for the constant-force escapement in the Zeitwerk, it powers the balance with a uniform amount of force for the entire running duration and delivers the one-per-minute impulse for switching the three-disc jumping numerals display.

3. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetual

Fans of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s high complications will surely be familiar with their Gyrotourbillons, now into its fifth incarnation with the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuél.

This is by far, the smallest Gyrotourbillon and the further reduction in size of the Gyrotourbillon results in a more wearable wristwatch. However, error tolerance is lowered. The expertise and skill in executing a successful miniaturisation initiative is therefore a show of the brand’s technical prowess.

Limited to 18 pieces, the Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuél features the remontoir d’égalité or constant-force mechanism thereby providing a consistent energy supply to the tourbillon. The remontoir d’égalité refers to the spring that is periodically re-armed by the mainspring and acts as a secondary power source to protect the movement’s regulating organ. Moreover, the constant-force mechanism regulates the minute wheel and results in a jumping minute hand for more precise time-reading.

Top Five Complicated Watches

Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetual © Jaeger-LeCoultre

For the Westminster chime, four sets of gongs and hammers are used to create the four-phrase melody of four notes played in different sequences and different quantities at each quarter of the hour. One highlight of the striking mechanism is the silence-reduction function. This means that when the full sequence of Westminster quarters will not be struck, there will also not be any time delay (for the quarters that will not be struck) before the minutes are chimed. In other words, the strikes for the hour, quarter and minutes are seamless.

What’s more, the constant-force mechanism controls the minute strike follows the one-minute jumping system. This means that chiming error is eliminated when the minute repeater is activated. Without control from the constant-force mechanism, the difference between the chiming played out and the time displayed can be one minute.

As for the perpetual calendar, take note that the date can be set forwards and backwards without causing any damage to the movement.

4. CODE 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Perpetual Calendar

Why is this Audemars Piguet Perpetual Calendar on our list? Well, CODE 11.59 by Audemars Piguet is a new collection from the brand which, according to CEO François-Henry Bennahmias, required new tools, skills and techniques. CODE is the acronym for Challenge, Own, Dare and Evolve.

Interestingly, while the case appears round, it actually has an octagonal middle case within it. Why octagonal? As fans of the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore would know, these two popular collections feature the brand’s iconic octagonal bezels. In addition, high finishing techniques have been employed for the case. The glare-proofed sapphire crystal is double-curved where the internal surface is shaped like a dome while the external surface is vertically curved from 6 to 12 o’clock.

Top Five Complicated Watches

CODE 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Perpetual Calendar © Audemars Piguet

Take note of the 12.5mm long Audemars Piguet branding on the dial as the alphabets are made of thin layers of 24-carat gold achieved by galvanic growth. Each alphabet is painstakingly placed in position on the dial by hand.

The CODE 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection marks a significant milestone for the brand and the perpetual calendar has long been a characteristic AP complication. Powered by the brand’s in-house Manufacture Calibre 5134 automatic movement, the perpetual calendar displays include the day, date and month indications, the leap year cycle and the precise moon phase display that requires an adjustment once every 122 years and 108 days. In other words, a manual adjustment is only required in the year 2100.

5. Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire

Armin Strom’s Dual Time Resonance made its debut in October 2017 and the second variation was unveiled in January 2019. Known as the Dual Time Resonance Sapphire because of its transparent sapphire case, it allows one to fully admire the Armin Strom’s in-house Manufacture Calibre ARF17 manual-winding movement.

Limited to eight pieces, the Dual Time Resonance Sapphire gets our vote as this timepiece is an affirmation of the innovation and technical prowess in high horology from this up-and-coming independent brand. 

The Dual Time Resonance is the offspring of Armin Strom’s Mirrored Force Resonance. The Mirrored Force Resonance showcased how two oscillators could, as its name implies, resonate via the brand’s patented resonant clutch spring. All that is required is 10 minutes for the resonant system to synchronise or resonate.

Top Five Complicated Watches

Dual Time Resonance Sapphire © Armin Strom

In the Dual Time Resonance, two separate movements, each displaying its independent time display or time zone, are positioned beside each other and the resonance clutch spring once again is what connects the two to attain resonance. In addition to a second time zone, the other movement can be used as countdown timer or chronograph to record elapsed time. With resonance attained, the result is improved chronometric precision.

In their own laboratory tests, gains in precision of between 15% and 20% were realised for two chronometer-certified regulated movements in resonance.

As to the question of whether resonance is truly attained, do note that the Centre Suiss d’Electronique et de Microtechnique (CSEM) has officially certified that Armin Strom’s resonance innovation based on its resonance clutch spring is a true system in resonance.

Brands

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