As we’re drawing a close to 2023, we take a look back at some of the Best New Watches revealed this year in various categories. And even though we’ve already covered fan favourites such as Chronographs, GMT watches, Dive watches, as well as several others, we’re now upping the ante with some of the best ultra-complicated watches that burst upon the scene over the past twelve months. From ultra-complex creations based on historic pocket watches to watches inspired by 1960s housing projects and everything in between, this list is a perfect display of the bold creativity and technical innovation the industry is capable of. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Best High-Complication Watches of 2023!
Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4
This one was a given, naturally. Audemars Piguet’s efforts in the high-complication game are very well known, but the Code 11:59 Universelle (to put it short) outclassed everything else this year. Not only is it the brand’s most complicated watch to date, it is one of the industry’s most complicated watches ever, based on a pocket watch from 1899. The specs on this thing are off the charts, as it uses more than 1,100 parts in its movement and has 40 functions, which include 23 complications and 17 technical devices, all packed into a white or rose gold case of a moderate 42mm diameter and 15.5mm height. It includes things like a perpetual calendar, a Grande Sonnerie and a Petite Sonnerie, a flying tourbillon, a flyback split-seconds chronograph and much more. It’s a truly monumental achievement by AP and one to remain “King of the Hill” for quite a while, we expect.
For more information on AP’s ultimate complication watch (to date), please check out our detailed hands-on rundown here.
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2T
Ferdinand Berthoud bids farewell to the movement found inside the Chronomètre FB 2T this year and gives it a fitting farewell in the brand’s beautiful round case. Available in white or rose gold and with a blue or ruthenium grey dial, it remains one of the most fascinating watches in recent years. The movement was first introduced in 2015 and was inspired by Berthoud’s historical marine chronometers. It houses a tourbillon escapement with a fusée-and-chain transmission, still some of the most complicated mechanisms to perfect. This Chronomètre FB 2T marks the first and also last time this specific movement is presented in the round case instead of the striking octagonal case. Only 38 will be made, all fitted with the spectacularly finished movement visible from the back, but also the front (partly) and the side, through a sapphire crystal porthole mounted in the caseband.
For more information on the stupendous Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2T, check out our in-depth review here.
F.P. Journe FFC
Where a regular indication on a watch uses a pointer called a hand, F.P. Journe literally uses a hand, or rather the fingers of a hand, to tell time. The FFC, short for Francis Ford Coppola, is the result of a wild idea concocted by the fabled filmmaker and legendary watchmaker François-Paul Journe. First created as a unique piece for Only Watch, it made its commercial debut this year. The fascinating display of a gauntlet that shows 12 different configurations using the five fingers for the hours is based on the ingenious artificial limbs created by Ambroise Paré in the 16th century. Highly technical in execution, it takes a little time to get acquainted with the display, but once you’re there, it becomes highly intuitive. Around the outside edge of the case, the revolving minutes complete the display, while the absence of a traditional dial reveals most of the beautifully finished movement that drives it all.
For more information on the wonderfully original F.P. Journe FFC, please head over to our hands-on story here.
Girard-Perregaux Neo Constant Escapement
Back in 2012, Girard-Perregaux presented a breakthrough constant force escapement concept based on the principle of a buckling card (or train ticket in this case) when under pressure. Fast forward a little over a decade, and the brand has updated this into the striking Neo Constant Escapement. Not only does it look better than ever, it’s also improved from a technical perspective. The escapement wheels are smaller and have a different geometry; it has two new rocking levers to transfer the force to the buckled blade and to ensure a much higher efficiency of the entire escapement construction. It now comes with a guaranteed power reserve of at least 7 days, with the same barrels as before and despite the larger, heavier balance wheel. Fascinating stuff, and surely one of the best complicated watches of the year!
For more information on the fascinating and technical Girard-Perregaux Neo Constant Escapement, please read the full story right here.
MB&F HM11 Architect
Leave it to the team of Max Büsser and MB&F to come up with a watch that is shaped like pod-style houses from the late 1960s. No other brand would be able to translate that idea into a complex (and rather cool!) mechanical watch, but the HM11 Architect shows that it can be done. Four ‘chambers’ house four different functions, and the entire construction can be rotated to show you whichever one you want to see. One is reserved for the crown to set the hours and minutes, while the others show you the time, the power reserve and the temperature. All are driven by a movement with a central flying tourbillon escapement revealed by multiple sections of sapphire crystal. It also has a hidden party trick because to wind the three-dimensional in-house movement, you have to rotate the entire case clockwise, adding to the fun of the HM11 Architect in typical MB&F style!
For more information on the groovy MB&F Horological Machine 11 Architect, please check out our live coverage here.