Swiss watch is not only the symbol of respectability and stability but also a sign of constant striving for perfection and innovations. Building new collections is a creative process lasting on the average from three to six years. Producers try to implement some new improvements, to implement some wonder of watchmaking.
That’s why watches with complicated movement (extra functions) are considered to be the most prestigious. The peculiarity is that refinement is a new micro mechanism made with extremely high precision and possessing artistic elegance. They are often displayed under transparent sapphire glass and beautify watches more effectively than diamonds, fascinating the viewer with their operation.
Watches with additional functions form their own categories and we are going to sort them out.
Chronometers are super accurate mechanical watches. They form special elite category. Margin of error is not more than -4/+6 seconds a day while the ambiguity of normal mechanical watch can reach -20/+40 seconds. The point is their operation is less affected by such factors as temperature fluctuation and earth gravity.
To get a status of chronometer watch movement must go through testing in the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). As a result the movement gets a proper mark with a certificate number given by the institute. Exactly such a mark can prove the chronometer is real. Presence of the mark raises value and cost of the watch significantly.
Chronographs are a considerably more wide-spread and usable complication. They can be recognized by additional dials and control buttons. It’s an independent mechanism for measuring time intervals. It doesn’t depend on watch movement which indicates hours and minutes.
Chronographs are mostly used as stopwatches. But there are some modifications that are more complicated and include several additional dials and covering 12 hours intervals. With help of chronographs in sport, pulse and respiration rate can be measured.
Chronographs for drivers are often equipped with a tachometric scale – a device for measuring speed. Chronographs from the collection of Rolex Daytona are the best examples of watches with tachymeter.
Of course, in the era of electronics few people apply chronographs in practice. But the opportunity of operating such a complicated mechanism independently from the watch movement is really astonishing. Besides it can be rather handy at some unexpected moments when all electronic devices fail. One time astronauts even managed to land damaged rocket with help of the chronograph.
Watches for travelers are also provided with extra dials: they show double and even triple time in different time zones. This category is perhaps the most diverse in design, functionality and ways of displaying time. In some models second time is displayed in the additional dial, like in A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Time Zone. In other models time is shown in the main dial. To make it possible special mechanisms are created, so the time zone can be changed without interference with a main movement. The example of such watch is Breguet Classique 5717 Hora Mundi.
Watches for travelers can be recognized by special design. Their dials are often decorated with stylized geographical maps. Names of capitals in different countries are located on the dial outer rim. The time display is complemented by a day-night controller, which helps to avoid disappointing misunderstandings. It is often decorated with images of the sun and the moon.
“World Time” function for keeping track of time in a few time zones is perhaps one of the most usable complications of the watch movement. It is useful in frequent flights. In addition design of watches for travelers inspires and enables you to feel like a traveler, even if you don't make trips often.
Perpetual calendar is a very practical complication of the watch for every day. Watch shows not only time, but the date, day, month and year. But various watch brands use different ways of displaying that. Some mark additional scale on a dial, like Patek Philippe in Grand Complications 5159 model. Some create patterns of additional dials, like Ulysse Nardin in Perpetual Calendars El Toro GMT ± Perpetual 326-03 model. And some tries to simplify life of future watch owners and leaves on the dial just windows where dates, names of the months and days of weeks are displayed, like in watches Glashutte Original Art & Technik Senator Perpetual Calendar. Perpetual calendar often has one more additional complication – the astronomical watch that shows the lunar cycle phases.
Tourbillon is a complication with a beautiful name, which in French means "whirlpool". This is a small device that rotates the balance of the watch movement making circles, thereby compensating the influence of gravity. The precision of a watch with a tourbillon is -1/+2 seconds during a day.
The tourbillon is considered the most complicated and the most beautiful additional element. Its manufacturing process is complicated and expensive, thus each watch with tourbillon automatically becomes exclusive and expensive. The tourbillon is often put under display of transparent glass to be the pride and decoration of the watch movement. It can be seen in the collection of The Art of Tourbillon by Antoine Preziuso.
The value of mechanical watches is determined rather by accuracy and complexity of their movement than by the cost of the valuable materials they are made of. Prestige of Swiss watches brands depend on that too. Improvements and complications may be different, but all of them with no exception make watches more interesting and valuable. And regardless of the practical use they add points to the magic of art of watchmaking.