Not long ago, the conventional wisdom among Swiss watchmakers was that a complicated watch had to be housed in a setting befitting the expertise required to manufacture it. In other words: round case, traditional dial, conservative to the core.
Oh, how times have changed!
The ranks of watch enthusiasts interested in complicated watches have grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade, and because they come from all walks of life, the Swiss have been all too happy to oblige with a slew of models that fill every taste, from a traditional chronograph to timepieces with extreme functionality or space-age dials, like the 46.5 mm Louis Vuitton horological extravaganza highlighted below.
Here, we spotlight eight new complicated timepieces ideal for anyone coveting a mechanical watch with a distinct look, be it sophisticated minimalism or OTT maximalism and everything in between.
Table of Contents
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
Presented as a prototype in 2018, the new Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-thin was introduced to the market in February in a 41 mm satin-brushed titanium case bearing a bezel and links in polished platinum. The lightweight, wearable design belies the horological power that ticks within. With a movement measuring just 2.89 mm thick and a case totaling 6.3 mm, the piece, according to Audemars Piguet, is the world’s thinnest automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch. Beauty and brains in equal measure! CHF 137,000 (about $158,185); audemarspiguet.com
H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Perpetual Calendar in Tantalum
In keeping with H. Moser’s signature aesthetic, the “Grand Feu” enamel dial of its new Endeavour Perpetual Calendar watch boasts an ombré effect rendered in shades of Abyss Blue that is as mesmerizing as it is challenging to achieve. The 42 mm timepiece is encased in tantalum, a rare, blue-grey, corrosion-resistant metal named after Tantalus of Greek mythology. The only hint that the watch contains one of horology’s most respected complications—powered by the hand-wound HMC 800 Manufacture caliber—is the date window at 3 o’clock. $82,500; h-moser.com
Hublot Big Bang Integrated King Gold Rainbow
Hublot introduced the Big Bang Integrated King Gold Rainbow at this year’s LVMH Watch Week. Equipped with a self-winding chronograph flyback movement with a column wheel, the piece measures 42 mm in size—big enough to accommodate nearly 1,000 gemstones, including rubies, amethysts, blue topazes, tsavorites, and sapphires in shades of yellow, orange, blue and pink. Between the case (120 stones), bezel (54 baguette-cut gems), and bracelet (a whopping 768 stones!), all in satin-finished and polished 18k King Gold, the watch has “life of the party” written all over it. $169,000; hublot.com
Louis Vuitton Tambour Jacquemart Minute Repeater 200th Anniversary
To mark the 200th anniversary of Louis Vuitton’s birth, the brand created the remarkable Tambour Jacquemart Minute Repeater, paying homage to the theme of journeys—in this case, to the outer realms of the universe. Working with the enameller Anita Porchet and the engraver Dick Steenman, La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton depicted a celestial starscape on the dial, framed by a 46.8 mm titanium and 18k white gold case designed to evoke a space capsule and an astronaut’s helmet.
Comprising 480 components, the LV200 calibre hand-wound mechanical movement features a cathedral gong minute repeater as well as a jacquemart function (back in the day, jacquemarts were automatons designed to strike the hour on church bells). With the advent of portable timekeepers, they became essentially decorative, but the watchmaker revived them on the Tambour, in a shining example of pure horological poetry, summarized handily in the press release: “When the push button is activated, the rocket takes off revealing diamond passengers in its cockpit, the planets spin while the Monogram flower rotation is followed by the movement of two shooting stars. Dazzlingly beautiful, this astral show comes with a sound as celestial as it is powerful since Louis Vuitton combined it with a cathedral gong minute repeater. Once essential to tell the time at night, the minute repeater still chimes the hours, quarter hours, and minutes.” As if all that weren’t enough, take note of the “Louis Vuitton” signature in blue rubber letters on the bezel; and the thumb piece, crown, and initials set with a cerulean gradation of gemstones matching the deep blue of the dial. And away we go! $925,000; louisvuitton.com
Omega Speedmaster 38 Co‑Axial Chronometer Chronograph
Look up “sport chic” in the dictionary, and a picture of the new Speedmaster 38 Co‑Axial Chronometer Chronograph from Omega is likely to appear beside it. Housed in a fetching 38 mm two-tone case made of stainless steel and 18k Sedna gold, this iteration of the brand’s most famous chronograph boasts a nifty dual bezel design: the inner ring features a tachymeter scale on a brown aluminum ring while the outside is diamond-paved. The elegant “cappuccino” dial and taupe-brown leather strap complete the pretty picture. $11,200; omega.com
Panerai Luminor Due Luna Goldtech
With its refined and casually elegant vibe, the Luminor Due is Panerai’s most feminine collection. Now, for the first time, it boasts a complication, the moon phase, a contender for watchmaking’s most poetic function. The Luminor Due Luna Goldtech (Ref. PAM 1181) comes in a 38 mm case fashioned from the brand’s proprietary gold-copper alloy, lending the piece a rich reddish hue. Paired with a white mother-of-pearl dial adorned with golden Arabic numerals and hour markers and a shiny blue alligator strap, the piece places the moon phase at 3 o’clock, featuring a rotating disc with an 18k gold moon against a starry midnight blue sky, front, and (slightly off) center. $21,500; panerai.com
Parmigiani Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon
The supremely elegant, ultra-minimalist Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon from Parmigiani has quiet luxury written all over it. Housed in a 42 mm case of polished and satin-finished platinum, the model’s only concession to decoration are hands and appliques in 18k gold and a finely knurled bezel, a brand signature. Hidden behind the Milano blue platinum dial ticks a flying tourbillon movement with automatic winding—glimpse the platinum micro-rotor and some of its 207 components through the transparent case back. Limited to 25 pieces, the model conveys one overriding message: If you know, you know. $163,700; parmigiani.com
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar Ref. 5261R-001
A useful annual calendar complication adds a touch of utility to Patek Phillipe’s sought-after Aquanaut Luce. Introduced in March at Watches and Wonders Geneva, the rose gold model, dressed in a subtle blue-grey color scheme on the dial and strap, is deliberately lacking in gems. Patek created the piece to reinforce its “casual chic” segment, which includes the 2021 Aquanaut Luce Travel Time dual time zone watch Ref. 5269 and the 2022 Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” self-winding chronograph Ref. 7968. With the addition of the annual calendar, which can differentiate between months with 30 and 31 days, requiring only one manual correction per year, at the end of February, Patek’s trinity of casual and convenient wristwatches for women is complete. $61,510; patek.com