TheWatchIndex.com

The Complete Collection of Watch Complications

By: B.A Morley, Editor, TheWatchIndex.com
The Complete Collection of Watch Complications

The Complete Collection of Watch Complications

When you stop and consider all of the different features and functions of a mechanical watch, it can be mind-boggling. You can easily become confused when terms such as chronograph, minute repeater, moon phase display, perpetual calendar, power reserve indicator, and tourbillon are tossed around. Therefore, we've compiled this complete collection of watch complications to help you better understand what your watch can do. This list is not exhaustive, but it does provide the most common complications found in watches.

If you notice that we're missing something, let us know in the comments below! 

Date Complications

Digital Date - In contrast to analog watches, digital watches use a numerical display to show the time.
Analog Date - An analog watch uses hands and/or a dial to show the time.

Types of Displays            

1. Day-Date - A watch that indicates both the date and the day of the week.
2. Date Window - The date window is a small opening, also known as an aperture, that shows the numerical date.
3. Big Date / Large Date - The Big Date is similar to the date window but larger and easier to read.
4. Pointer Date - A center hand points to the date along the outside of the dial.
5. Subsidiary Date - The date is displayed on a small sub-dial.

Chronograph Complications

Simple Chronograph / Monopoussoir - A device that measures elapsed time, also known as a stopwatch. A standard chronograph has two pushers on the side of its case; the top pusher starts and stops the timer and the bottom pusher resets the timer to zero.

Flyback Chronograph / Retour-En-Vol - A chronograph in which the seconds hand can be stopped, returned to zero, and restarted instantly by pushing only one button. Typical chronographs need to be stopped, returned to zero, and started with three separate steps. The flyback function is useful for timing events that occur in rapid sequence, such as the laps in a race.

Rattrapante Chronograph / Split-Seconds Chronograph - Unlike a standard chronograph, this type of chronograph has two seconds hands, so the wearer can stop one hand while the other hand continues to run. The rattrapante hand is started simultaneously with the main chronograph hand. However, the rattrapante hand can be stopped independently, multiple times. Then the rattrapante hand “catches up” with main chronograph hand. This type of chronograph is useful if the wearer wants to time simultaneous events such as two runners competing in a race. This chronograph can also time the laps of a single runner in a race.

Calendar Complications

Triple Calendar - Also known as a "complete calendar," the triple calendar provides the day of the week, the date, and the month.

Annual Calendar - The annual calendar displays the day of the week, the date, the month, and the year. However, the annual calendar does not account for leap years.

Perpetual Calendar - The perpetual calendar is one of the most complex calendars. Similar to the annual calendar, it displays the day of the week, the date, the month, and the year. But this calendar accounts for leap years, so it will not need to be re-set until the year 2100.

Equation of Time – This calendar watch is similar to the perpetual calendar, but it goes one step further. An Equation of Time calendar measures, in minutes, the difference between our calendar time and the actual solar time. 

Dual Time Zone or GMT

Dual Time Zone or GMT Watches – GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time. This is the time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, which is located at the prime meridian. GMT is used to determine the time around the world. GMT watches allow the wearer to track Greenwich Mean Time in addition to their local time zone; however, the wearer can choose to track any two time zones of their choosing.

World Time Zone – Watches with world time functionality simultaneously display the time in all 24 time zones. These 24-hour watches have a rotating bezel that includes a major city from each time zone. 

Minute Repeater

A minute repeater is a device that chimes the time when a slide or button on the watch case is pushed. Some repeaters are able to chime the time to the latest minute, but other repeaters chime the time only to the latest five minutes or quarter hours.

1. Quarter Repeater
2. Half-Quarter Repeater
3. Five-Minute Repeater
4. Minute Repeater

Tourbillon

Found only in high-end mechanical watches, a tourbillon eliminates time keeping errors caused by gravity. The tourbillon consists of a cage that holds the escapement and the balance, and it rotates continuously at the rate of once per minute. The constant rotation eliminates the effects of gravity caused when the watch is in a vertical position.

Tachymeter

A numerical scale on the dial or bezel of a chronograph that is used to measure speed over a pre-measured distance.

Moon Phase Display

A window on a watch face that shows the current phase of the moon.

Jump Hour

Replacing the hour hand, the jump hour indicator typically shows the hours by means of a numeric window.

Alarm

An alarm is a vibration or noise that is set to signal at a predetermined time. 

24-Hour Watch

In a 24-hour watch, the dial includes 1 through 24 instead of the standard 1 through 12. This means that the hour hand will make only one full rotation during a day. 

Automatic Watch

An automatic watch is a mechanical movement that is wound by everyday movements of the wearer. If an automatic watch isn’t worn for a few days, it will need to be wound to get started again.

Power Reserve Indicator

The power reserve complication indicates the length of time that a mechanical movement can run before needing to be rewound. A typical mechanical watch can run for 36 to 48 hours before needing to be wound, but some watches can run for a week or longer.

Types of Power Reserve Indicators:

1. Aperture
2. Linear
3. Pie
4. +/-

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