When you’re picking out a luxury watch, there are a dazzling number of features to choose from. In addition to the basics like size, shape, and material, many watches perform different functions beyond the simple display of hours and minutes. These functions, also called ‘complications,’ range from fairly basic (like date display) to extremely esoteric (like the Caliber 89’s celestial chart of 2,800 stars). Lavalier goes over the most important complications to help you figure out what you want – and what you don’t want – in a luxury watch.
This may seem pretty cut-and-dried, but the way the date is displayed can actually be quite complicated. The simplest date display is the date window, also called the aperture. A big date display is (obviously) a larger version of this, often with two windows, one for numbers 0-3 and one for 0-9.
Unlike the date window, the date wheel doesn’t take up space on the watch face. Instead, an arrow points to the date, represented by a series of numbers that ring the outside periphery of the watch.
A subsidiary dial displays the date in a miniature watch face inside the main watch face.
If you want the day of the week on your watch as well, you can go with the classic day-date dial, with a date window and a separate aperture showing the day of the week, or a side-by-side day-date dial, where both are displayed in the same aperture.
The triple calendar gives you the month as well. This complete calendar can be represented by a combination of aperture windows and date wheel, or by three separate subsidiary dials, although that takes up much more room on your watch face.
Lastly, the perpetual calendar displays date, month, year, and day of the week. The perpetual calendar takes leap years into account, so you won’t have to correct it until 2100, when the leap year is ignored (who knew?). The perpetual calendar can be displayed in aperture windows or subsidiary dials.
Chronograph is just a fancy word for stopwatch. A chronograph may be operated by one, two, or three buttons, also known as pushers. There are three primary types of chronographs.
The most basic is the aptly-named simple chronograph, which has either one or two pushers. One-pushers simply start and stop. Two-pusher chronographs can measure interrupted timespans.
A retour-en-vol, or flyback chronograph, has two pushers. If the stopwatch is running and the second button is pushed, all the counters restart from zero. It basically enables rapid restart, which is useful when you need to be very accurate (down to a tenth of a second).
The third type is the rattrapante or split-second chronograph. This has three pushers and two second hands, and can measure multiple events at the same time. When you push the third button, the second event stops while the first sweep hand keeps ticking along. Reset it again, and the second hand catches up with the first until you initiate another split.
The tachymeter is often found on chronographs, and is used to measure speed over a certain distance in units per hour. The tachymeter is generally located on the inner or outer dial ring of a watch. It is used in conjunction with the chronometer to calculate average speeds. With a bit of math, you can use it to measure distance, as well. See the watch manual for more details on how to use the tachymeter on your specific luxury watch.
Tourbillon (pronounced TOUR-bee-yon) is French for ‘whirlwind,’ and it’s easy to see why when you watch it work up close. Gravity is the enemy of accurate timekeeping, so the tourbillon constantly moves the escapement and balance assembly (the timekeeping mechanism) so it’s never affected by gravitational forces. Many watches showcase the delicate, intricate movements of the tourbillon by displaying it on the watch face. It’s one of the most difficult watch mechanisms to make, requiring hundreds of parts and deft handiwork to create, which is why it is only found in luxury watches.
There are several other complications you can find in a luxury watch, including moon phases, a compass, and a power reserve indicator. The more complications you have in a watch, the more, well, complicated it will be. When you purchase a luxury watch, ensure that it keeps ticking away with watch insurance through Lavalier. And just like our jewelry insurance, you can choose your own deductible. Get a quick quote now, and protect your luxury watch from damage, loss, and theft.