Monochrome Watches
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The Best of High-Complication at Watches and Wonders 2024 and The Geneva Week

It's not just about stacking complications, it's also the year of ultra-thin (yes, that'a complication...)

| By Brice Goulard | 7 min read |

Today, we are ending our series of recap articles focused on the best new watches presented during Watches and Wonders 2024 and Geneva Watch Week (we’ve looked at dive watches, chronographs, dress watches or GMT models)… And what’s better to take a look back at some of the show’s most impressive, technically advanced and innovative models? We could have listed watches like the Bovet Recital 28 or the Monaco Split-Seconds, but both made it to other lists. Here, what matters is the art of watchmaking, whether it’s about breaking records, improving an important complication or making things thinner than ever before. Here’s the best of high-complication at the 2024 Geneva week.

A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Lumen

Lange’s impressive triple-complication, a.k.a the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, isn’t really new as we’ve seen it already in platinum with a black dial and in white gold with a salmon/rose gold dial. However, this year, this watch combining a flyback chronograph, a perpetual calendar and a tourbillon regulator gets a very special treatment… with an exclusive honeygold case (something rare at ALS) and the Lumen attire, with a tinted sapphire dial revealing parts of the movement underneath and many parts coated in lume. Not only does this require some adjustments to the movement, but in any case, it’s always with much pleasure that we get to see this masterpiece of A. Lange & Söhne, housed in a relatively wearable case and with a spectacular movement inside. All the details in our article here.

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Quick facts: 41.5mm x 14.6mm Honeygold case – sapphire crystals front and caseback – tinted sapphire crystal dial with lume-coated sub-dials, oversize date, tachymeter scale, moonphase and hands – calibre L952.4, in-house hand-wound flyback chronograph with perpetual calendar and tourbillon, 2.5Hz frequency, 50h power reserve – dark brown alligator leather on gold deployant buckle – reference 740.055FE, limited to 50 pieces – price upon request (approx. EUR 600,000)

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra COSC

Meet the world’s thinnest mechanical watch! The race for ultra-thin watchmaking goes on. After Piaget broke the record with the 2mm thin AUC, Bulgari answered with the 1.80mm Octo Finissimo Ultra… A record that only lasted for a few months, before Richard Mille introduced its credit card-shaped 1.75mm RM UP-01 Ferrari. Bulgari couldn’t let that record go, and answers this year with the 1.70mm Octo Finissimo Ultra COSC. Because yes, not only its the thinnest mechanical watch ever, but it is also capable of high precision. We’ve said it on multiple occasions, ultra-thin watchmaking IS a true complication, involving topics like miniaturization, new ways to construct a watch/movement, sophisticated solutions and materials. And believe us, shaving 0.10mm off a watch that was already paper-thin isn’t just about tiny adjustments. It is yet another achievement by Bulgari, and one that could up stay for quite some time. All the details, including an in-depth video, are in our article here.

Quick facts: 40mm x 1.70mm sandblasted titanium and tungsten carbide case – sapphire crystal on the front – openworked structure with the movement displayed on the front, regulator-like display – BVL calibre 180, ultra-thin movement (1.50mm) made together with Concepto, hand-wound chronometer-certified, 4Hz frequency, 50h power reserve – ultra-thin 1.50mm sandblasted titanium bracelet with integrated folding clasp – Reference 104081 – limited edition of 20 pieces – EUR 600,000

De Bethune DB Kind of Grande Complication

While we often associate the brand with its combination of classical watchmaking, traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design, it also has the ability to go ultra-complex. Case in point, the new and absolutely stunning DB Kind of Grande Complication, a mastership to be regarded as a culmination of Denis Flageollet’s dreams packed with the brand’s patented technical and decorative elements. Housed in a two-sided reversible case, entirely made of titanium and with floating lugs, the movement is gathering all the expertise of the brand; 7 patented De Bethune inventions, high beat 30-sec titanium tourbillon, spherical Moon phase, jumping second, perpetual calendar… And a finishing that’s just delightful. The beauty of this lies in the ambivalence of its two faces; classical on one side with its starry sky and QP, futuristic on the other with the triangular bridge over the shiny movement. All the details about this DB Kind of Grande Complication are here.

Quick facts: 42.3mm x 13.85mm reversible, two-sided polished titanium case with floating lugs – sapphire crystals front and caseback – blued titanium dial for the QP side, openworked polished titanium structure for the movement side – calibre DB2529, in-house hand-wound, high-frequency 30-second tourbillon, jumping seconds, perpetual calendar, 4-day power reserve – alligator strap with titanium pin buckle – reference DBK2TV2 – CHF 400,000

IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar

No oversized Pilot’s watch or racing chronograph this year at IWC, but a tribute to one of the brand’s emblematic modules, the perpetual calendar. Except that this year, IWC pushes the concept much, much further with a rare complication, a secular perpetual calendar. Unlike a perpetual calendar that will need a correction in 2100, the Eternal Calendar is fitted with a 400-year gear that overrides the Gregorian calendar’s complex leap year rule exceptions. It will not need to be adjusted until late 3999 (for the calendar) and it even comes with the most precise moon phase ever, with a one-day deviation in 45 million years. What’s important is that, in typical IWC fashion, this was all developed with clever, simplified mechanics and remains close to an actual Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44… In fact, only two gears were added to the gear train. High-complication watchmaking is also about efficiency, not just stacking things over and over again. All the details about the Portugieser Eternal Calendar, including an in-depth video, are in this article.

Quick facts: 44.4mm x 15mm platinum case – double domed sapphire crystal on both sides – glass dial with white lacquer, raised lacquered minutes flange, sapphire crystal sub-dials – IWC calibre 52640, in-house automatic movement with secular perpetual to recognise irregular leap years (no adjustment before late 3999), perpetual moon phase with 45 million years accuracy – black alligator leather strap, platinum folding clasp – reference IW505701 – CHF 150,000

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

Piaget, a specialist in the field of thinness, might have lost the title for the thinnest mechanical watch, but what they’ve done this year is nothing shy of impressive. Without adding a single tenth of a millimetre to the already paper-thin Altiplano Ultimate Concept, Piaget now comes with a 2mm-thin tourbillon version, making it (and by quite a margin) the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch. How? By using the same clever construction as the 900P and the no-tourbi AUC, where the movement and case become a single element, and by making the tourbillon regulator as flat as possible (1.49mm in total), using ball bearings for its cage. And it’s not just about switching regulators, as almost 90% of the parts in the AUC Tourbillon are new. Piaget is, without a doubt, still one of the few masters of ultra-thin. All the details about the Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon, including an in-depth video, are here.

Quick facts: 41.5mm x 2mm blue PVD-treated M64BC cobalt alloy case – sapphire crystal on the front, sapphire opening over the tourbillon on the back – openworked structure with the movement displayed on the front, monobloc disc for the hours – calibre 970P-UC, in-house hand-wound ultra-thin movement with a one-minute tourbillon on ball bearing, 4Hz frequency, 40h power reserve – calfskin leather strap with M64BC cobalt alloy pin buckle – price upon request

Vacheron Constantin Berkley Grand Complication

Last but certainly not least… How can we not talk about the Berkley, also known as the most complicated timepiece ever created? This masterpiece of traditional craftsmanship is all about the numbers; 63 complications in total, 2 dials with 9 discs and 31 hands, 2,877 components, 245 jewels, probably well above one kilogram, an unprecedented Chinese perpetual calendar and a size that leaves some doubt on the pocket watch concept… But it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that a certain Mister Berkley, also the owner of the previous record holder (the reference 57260), commissioned this watch to Les Cabinotiers. Such patrons keep the knowledge and innovation spirit alive, making sure that the art of watchmaking survives, or should I say lives more prosperous than ever. About the 63 complications and the specifications? Read our article here.

Quick facts: 98mm x 50.55mm two-sided pocket watch in 18k white gold case – sapphire crystals on both sides – two silver opaline dials displaying complications with 9 discs and 31 hands – calibre 3752, in-house hand-wound, 2,877 components, 245 jewels and 63 complications including spherical tourbillon, World time, Gregorian perpetual calendar, Chinese perpetual calendar, Chinese agricultural perpetual calendar, Sky chart, sideral time, Sunrise/Sunset, Equation of time, Split-second chronograph, alarm, Carillon Westminster chiming with 5 gongs and 5 hammers, grande and petite sonnerie and minute repeater – unique piece commissioned to Les Cabinotiers – price undisclosed

1 response

  1. The ultra-thin watches are super impressive, but do they count as high complications? I would say no.

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