Watch complications are a curious thing. They require hundreds of highly skilled man hours to produce, yet most are put to only occasional use by their owners. Intricately complex and inherently delicate, they occupy a unique space at the apex of the watch industry: a rare combination of form and function, aesthetics and mechanics.

The big three complications are the rattrapante or split seconds chronograph, the perpetual calendar, and the minute repeater. One or more of these may be combined with a flying tourbillon, eventually earning the title of a grand complication timepiece.

Each of these three categories was well represented in 2016’s new releases, but the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater in black titanium stands out, showing that Bulgari is taking its fi ne watchmaking ever more seriously. The company strategically acquired both the Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth brands in recent years to access their Swiss manufacturing facilities, allowing the production of highly advanced complications such as this one.

A minute repeater is a striking watch that contains a mechanism with miniature hammers and gongs inside that produce an audible reading of the time upon depression of a small pusher on the side of the case. Nowadays innovation comes mostly in the form of the mechanism’s dimensions and sound quality.

In this instance Bulgari set itself the challenge of squeezing a minute repeater into a case so small it claims it to be the smallest such complication currently on the market. This approach resulted in a number of additional  obstacles around the clarity, cadence, and consistency of the watch’s chimes that have
been confi dently overcome, and all within a case measuring just 6.85mm in width.

The Graff Mastergraff Perpetual Calendar also plays the finissimo game by introducing the Graff Calibre 7, a proprietary movement just 7.72mm in width. Day, date, and month are lined up horizontally between 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock
on the chocolate-coloured dial with its sunray finish. It’s the sub-dial at 4 o’clock, however, that gives the game away, indicating leap years — a feature only a perpetual calendar is capable of. Wind this watch every 50 hours and it will not need adjusting until the year 2100.

There is also a flying tourbillon that rotates once every 60 seconds, offsetting the effects of gravity on the watch’s accuracy. These elements of classic high-watchmaking mechanics are complemented by a trademark Graff faceted
bezel and the brand’s emblem.

Finally, this year saw a new edition of the Patek Philippe reference 5204 with a rattrapante chronograph and perpetual calendar. The watch was first introduced in 2012, is now available in an elegant pink gold case, and is still only 40mm, despite its multiple complications.  

Very few brands have the technical prowess to pull this kind of thing off, but Patek makes such feats seem effortless. It also does so while maintaining an inimitable aesthetic that makes its timepieces instantly recognisable. Notice
the combination of a concave bezel with the stepped lugs or “shoulders” that connect case to strap — one seamless line of detailing.

The rattrapante chronograph function is joined by day and month indicators,
a 30-minute chronograph counter, a leap year display, date and moon phase indications, day/night indication, and a seconds counter. It’s a lot of information to take in, but the beauty of this design is its balance and symmetry.


BULGARI OCTO FINISSIMO MINUTE REPEATER

CASE: 40mm sandblasted titanium
MOVEMENT: Mechanical hand-wound BVL calibre 362
FEATURES: Ultra-thin manufacture minute repeater, limited edition of 50 pieces
STRAP: Vulcanised black alligator leather strap


GRAFF PERPETUAL CALENDAR

CASE: 46mm rose gold
MOVEMENT: Automatic Graff Calibre 7
FEATURES: Perpetual calendar, tourbillon
STRAP: Alligator leather


PATEK PHILIPPE CHRONOGRAPH RATTRAPANTE

CASE: 40mm 18K rose gold
MOVEMENT: Calibre 29-535 PS Q, mechanical
hand-wound
FEATURES: Perpetual calendar, rattrapante chronograph,
moon phase
STRAP: Hand-stitched alligator leather


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