We all know the watchmaking industry is spread far and wide, and you can find pretty much whatever you can think of. And on the top end of the spectrum is where you will find some of the most complex pieces imaginable. Watches that tell you the sunrise and sunset times for instance, or that break down the hour display to morph it into the next hour digit, or that make an instant jump every minute of the hour. Watches that get us all excited, and a true spectacle to behold. And with that in mind, we’ve compiled a Buying Guide with six recently released ultra-complex high-end watches that do things very differently! No more mainstream here, but rare and tantalizing handcrafted pieces with a hefty price tag.
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk 2022
Personally, the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk is one of my all-time favourite watches for its unusual yet captivating digital display and incredible mechanical movement. For 2022 the Zeitwerk received several big updates, like the double-length power reserve (now 72 hours) thanks to a modified construction. The entire display with three instantly jumping discs (one for the hours, two for the minutes) takes up a lot of torque, so energy is regulated by a one-minute constant-force escapement with an in-house-made balance spring. The decoration is as superb as ever and pretty much what you expect from AL&S. Two versions are available, one in pink gold and one in platinum, both attached to an alligator leather strap. The price is available upon request only, but expect it to be well north of EUR 100,000.
For more information, please visit ALange-Soehne.com
Quick Facts – 41.9mm x 12.2mm – platinum or pink gold case, polished & brushed – sapphire crystal front and back – 30m water-resistant – solid silver rhodié or black dial with central “time bridge” – apertures for jumping hours & minutes display – small seconds subdial – power reserve indicator – solid white or pink gold hands – Calibre L043.6, in-house – manual winding – 451 components – 18,000vph – 72h power reserve – cam-poised balance with in-house balance spring – one-minute constant-force escapement – jumping hours, minutes, small running seconds, power reserve – alligator leather strap – Price upon request
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB3 SPC
Although the latest beguiling piece by Ferdinand Berthoud is referred to as a slightly more affordable piece compared to the brand’s previous work, it is still a mind-blowingly gorgeous and complex piece. The Chronomètre FB3 SPC uses a newly constructed manual wound movement with one truly stand-out feature; its cylindrical hairspring. This can be seen on the left-hand side of the movement, and from the front, back and side thanks to a porthole crystal in the caseband. The movement is constructed out of 230 components and is either gilded or rhodium-treated, and set in a white or pink gold case. An inner bezel ring and small seconds subdial display the time, along with blued hands and a power reserve indicator. At CHF 140,000 it’s by far the least expensive Berthoud watch to date but by no means a bargain!
For more information, please visit FerdinandBerthoud.ch
Quick Facts – 42.30mm x 9.13mm – white or pink gold case – sapphire crystal front and back, sapphire crystal porthole in caseband – 30m water resistant – peripheral inner bezel ring – small seconds subdial – power reserve display – blued hands – Calibre FB-SPC, in-house – manual winding – COSC certified Chronometer – gilded or rhodium treated components – 230 components – 21,600vph – 72h power reserve – cylindrical hairspring – central hours and minutes, small seconds, power reserve – alligator leather strap – limited to 25 pieces per year – CHF 140,000
Jacob & Co Opera Godfather 50th Anniversary
If the words “unbelievably complex” and “high-end” are uttered, it’s hard to ignore the extravagance on display by Jacob & Co. The Opera Godfather 50th Anniversary is a celebration of Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic movie. The piece is riddled with detail, such as the sculpted rose, piano with an image of Don Corleone, and of course the insanely detailed laser engraving running around the caseband depicting scenes from the actual movie. Then there’s the twin-roller music box playing the Godfather theme, the triple-axis tourbillon escapement and the fact everything rotates. Oh, and it actually tells time on an off-centred black dial with gold indices and blued hands. It’s truly something extraordinary to behold! It comes on an alligator leather strap, and only 50 will ever be made at a price of USD 500,000 each.
For more information, please visit JacobandCo.com
Quick Facts – 49mm x 23mm – white gold case with laser-engraved movie scenes – domed sapphire crystal – caseback with Godfather 50 Years logo – lift-out bow to set and wind the movement – 30m water-resistant – revolving displays – black matte and pink gold applied indices – blued hands – Calibre JCFM04 – 658 components – triple-axis tourbillon – 21,600vph – 42h power reserve – hours, minutes, musical movement with 2 cylinders and combs playing 120 notes – sculpted rose – gloss black piano with Godfather image – alligator strap – limited edition of 50 pieces – USD 500,000
De Bethune DB25 Perpetual calendar
From the outside, the De Bethune DB25 Perpetual Calendar might look deceptively simple, but don’t be fooled. Behind the striking silver-and-blue display hides a very complex and detailed movement. The display includes central hours and minutes, date, day of the week, month and spherical moon phase display with day/night indicator in typical De Bethune style. The movement comprises 423 components and has a titanium and white gold balance wheel, De Bethune balance spring with a flat terminal curve, a titanium and gold rotor, a blued titanium balance bridge and an impressive 5-day power reserve. All is set in a 40mm wide grade 5 titanium case which is polished to perfection. The price is CHF 125,000 and the production is limited to 15 pieces per year.
For more information, please visit DeBethune.ch
Quick Facts – 40mm x 11.3mm – grade 5 titanium case, polished – integrated hollow lugs – sapphire crystal front and back – 30m water-resistant – silver and blue with guilloché decoration – curved and polished hands – central hours and minutes, date, day of the week, month, moon phase and leap year indication – Calibre DB2324V2, in-house – automatic winding – 423 components – titanium & white gold balance wheel – De Bethune balance spring – silicon escape wheel – titanium & white gold rotor – 28,800vph – 120h power reserve – alligator leather strap – limited to 15 pieces per year – CHF 125,000
Urwerk UR-120 a.k.a. Spock
Any Urwerk is a sight for the senses, and the UR-120 a.k.a. Spock just continues the brand’s dedication to unconventional watchmaking. The Star Trek reference comes from the fact the UR-120 uses the signature rotating satellite display, yet with a new party trick. Each cube displaying the hours is split in two, rotates to the next digit and reforms as a cube again when leaving the arched analogue minute track on the right-hand side of the watch. Driven by the Calibre UR-20.01, this spectacle is reminiscent of Commander Spock’s legendary “Live Long and Prosper” hand sign. The movement is state of the art with a number of exotic materials and a rotor governed by the Windfänger airscrew system. Although no numbers are communicated, production is limited. It retails for a hefty CHF 100,000 excluding taxes, but it would land you a stellar piece for sure!
For more information, please visit Urwerk.com
Quick Facts – 47mm x 44mm x 15.8mm – sandblasted titanium and steel case – sapphire crystal front and back – hinged lugs – covered crown – 30m water-resistant – signature satellite display of time – digital hour satellites with splitting cubes on planetary gears – arched analogue minutes track – Calibre UR-20.01 – automatic winding with Windfänger governed rotor – 28,800vph – 32 jewels – 48h power reserve – calf-leather strap with embossed ballistic fibre pattern – limited by production – CHF 100,000 before taxes
Krayon Anywhere Métiers d’Art Azur
When Krayon first stepped onto the scene of independent watchmaking, it wowed us with the incredible Everywhere. This was followed by the slightly less complex Anywhere, which stayed true to the concept of displaying sunrise and sunset times around the world (although not adjustable through the crown anymore). The Anywhere Métiers d’Art Azur is an artistic expression of the concept, with a drop-dead gorgeous Métiers d’Art miniature enamel painting in various shades of blue on the dial. The central hands indicate the time, combined with a date and month display at the bottom. Around the outer perimeter, the bi-colour rings represent the length of the day, with a travelling sun pointer providing a poetic touch of the time of day. Only 15 of these will be made, at a price of CHF 150,000 excluding taxes.
For more information, please visit Krayon.ch
Quick Facts – 39mm x 9.5mm – platinum case, polished – sapphire crystal front and back – 30m water-resistant – Métiers d’Art miniature painting in multiple shades of blue – central hour and minute hands – date and month subdial – length of day (sunrise/sunset) bi-colour rings – travelling sun pointer (24h display) – Calibre C030, manually wound – 21,600vph – 72h power reserve – 432 components – blue-grained calfskin leather strap – limited edition of 15 pieces – CHF 150,000 excl. taxes