The ability to dream up and produce complications that track the path of the moon across the sky may set one fine watchmaking maison apart from the next, depending on the mechanical complexity and artisan crafts involved. These are the things serious watch collectors want when looking to add to their collection, and it’s a challenge that has been taken up readily by master watchmakers over the centuries.
‘Their timepieces have all paid tribute to astronomy, the guiding light at the heart of our perception of the world around us, from the very first astrolabes to today’s perpetual calendar watches, which may be equipped with countless, more complex functions such as sidereal time indication, a chart of the heavenly bodies, or even a mechanism for anticipating lunar and solar eclipses – without forgetting the times of sunrise and sunset,’ says Fabienne Lupo, chairwoman and managing director for the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH).
The prices? Eye-watering, to say the least, when you’re looking at a masterpiece such as Vacheron Constantin’s Reference 57260 pocket watch. The most complicated watch ever made was commissioned for €10 million and took eight years to produce. Revealed in 2016 at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, with the kind permission of the owner, its 57 complications include a world-first Hebraic perpetual calendar, nine astronomic calendar functions, a lunar calendar and a religious calendar. There was an offer to purchase by a keen investor who, despite having tripled the commissioned price, had to be content with an emphatic ‘not for sale’.
For those who chose to wear a watch for its intricate design and technical features rather than simply to tell the time, and are drawn to the science and romance of the solar system, top watchmaking maisons have some exquisite options.
Read our take on an exclusive pocket watch from IWC.