Among the many new inventions and impressive dial executions introduced at the SIHH were two grand complications that quietly remind us of the great artistry of traditional watchmaking, and deserve special attention. Many ultra-complicated watches are misnamed as Grand Complications, but the traditional GC contains three specific complications: minute repeater, perpetual calendar and chronograph. Both these pieces, one from Audemars Piguet and the other from Lange & Söhne, are fine examples of this combination.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Grande Complication is limited to three pieces, each of which is individually executed by a single watchmaker who will devote more than 820 hours of craftsmanship to the task. The finish on each is like a signature of the individual watchmaker’s craft, with his own particular angles of bevel and engraving marks. The result is a true work of art.
While the ROO Grande Complication adheres to the principles of traditional watchmaking on the inside, the outside is refreshingly modern, with a titanium case, black ceramic bezel and an anthracite-coated oscillating weight – the ROO is after all a sports watch. But there is also a pink gold version, for pure traditionalists. Although this is the first grand complication in the Royal Oak Offshore line, Audemars Piguet has been creating grand complication timepieces continuously since 1882.
The second GC is the Lange & Söhne Grand Complication (the French say Grande, the Germans say Grand). This slightly more complex movement incorporates a chiming mechanism with grand and small strike, minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph with minute counter and flying seconds as well as a perpetual calendar with moonphase display. It automatically indicates the time in the grand strike (grand sonnerie) or small strike (petite sonnerie) modes. The chiming mechanism is powered by one of a total of three mainspring barrels. Another powers the chronograph, which is activated by a monopusher, a great idea because it leaves the case looking uncluttered. This one is limited to six pieces. Which means altogether, only nine people in the world will be lucky enough to own one of these amazing pieces from two of the world’s elite watchmakers.