While reviewing the Girard-Perregaux Jackpot Tourbillon in July, we turned nostalgic for the days when brands would bowl us over with amazing complications and wicked technical twists. Such watches – the horological equivalents of supercars – once dominated the watch collecting discourse and appeared on the cover of every other watch magazine.
Original Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon - If our modest list were ordered in terms of absolute technical wizardry, this watch would come first. Probably the most complicated watch of 2012, it is the first wristwatch to bring together the perpetual calendar, world time indication (for all 37 time zones) and one-minute flying tourbillon. Pitched as a traveler’s watch, Glashütte Original has made it so that the crown at 2 o’clock can adjust the date, day of the week and even month, backwards and forwards. Such simplicity is to be lauded in a watch with this much technical ambition.
Greubel Forsey GMT - The only watch on the list from the SIHH, the Greubel Forsey watch is also the most humbly named. The clever watchmaking duo og Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey do not even acknowledge the tourbillon in the name! To be fair, the GMT is possibly the simplest watch from Greubel Forsey, essentially displaying multiple time zones. We have include this watch because of that striking globe at 8 o’clock, which is actually a proper globe that acts as the day/night indicator. This is probably the most inventive display of this kind, trumping even the the angled tourbillon 24 seconds at 5 o’clock.
Blancpain Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel - In this Year of the Dragon, Blancpain trumped other watch brands with this audacious watch, an entirely new spin on the perpetual calendar that presents the traditional Chinese calendar: traditional double-hour, day, month (with indication of leap months), zodiac signs and five elements with 100 celestial stems. The watch also shows normal hours, minutes and Gregorian date. To our knowledge, Ref 888 (note the significance of the number) is the first in the world to have this complication and Blancpain is certainly the only watchmaker to make this complication a regular part of the collection.
Corum Admiral’s Cup Legend 46 Minute Repeater Acoustica - Not even included in the original press kit from Basel World, this watch represents a new level of technical savvy for Corum. With an unprecedented four gongs producing four notes representing hours and minutes, the Acoustica is an aural treat. According to the brand, the four gongs are stacked, with two of the gongs dial-side and two caseback-side. About that dial, well, there really isn’t one. This makes puts the CO 102 calibre front and center and shows off those gongs (at 10 o’clock). The watch employs a unique method to activate the repeater, which involves turning the bezel clockwise about 27 degrees.
Bulgari Daniel Roth Carillon Tourbillon - Boasting an in-house movement called DR3300, this watch features a three-hammer striking mechanism. Although Bulgari does not say so, it is clearly the most complicated internally developed and executed calibre. The hammers (visible at 11 o’clock) sound out hours, minutes and quarter hours. Bulgari has gone a step further for this watch, adding a tourbillon into the mix. At the present time, this is the most complicated watch with a complete in-house movement from Bulgari.