Super-Complications: When Grand-Complication Watches Just Aren’t Enough

By Harlan Chapman-Green

We all know about the prestige companies that make watches with complications in that can baffle our minds or new techniques that make us wonder just how much work went into something. However, for some, the amount of work that goes into a watch which is often months isnt enough. Some need years of work to go into their watches, this is where the super complicated watches come in.

A super complicated watch usually has around ten complications to it, most of which are there purely to add to the number count. Nevertheless, work went into them so they should be honoured, lets get started.


Breguet Marie Antoinette No.1160

This watch has been mentioned by me recently, but now we get to have a proper look at it.

The original piece was requested by an unnamed admirer of the French queen of the time, Marie Antoinette. The request detailed that the watch should be a one off produced specifically for the Queen by Breguet himself. It should have all of the complications of the time that could be produced and put into a watch. Queen Marie Antoinette was very fascinated by Abraham-Louis Breguets mysterious and inventive watches that do many things, especially the automatic winding watches. In fact, everyone in the French Royal court loved Breguets watches, and he became known for producing watches for the royal family.

The reproduction of this watch (the real one was lost) was made by the Breguet company using only Abraham-Louis Breguets drawings and descriptions of the original piece. Heres a list of all the complications put into this watch including the time of course:

  • Perpetual Calendar (a Breguet invention)

  • Minute Repeater

  • Thermometer

  • Chronograph

  • Power Reserve Indicator

  • Chime

  • Pare-Chute (a Breguet Invention)

  • Equation of Time (a Breguet Invention)

The watch also has the signature Breguet hands on it, which are blued and are very thin with small hollowed out circles in the end. The watch is also automatically powered. Sadly, Breguet never finished his watch, dying before it was completed. Queen Marie Antoinette never saw the watch either.


Patek Philippe Calibre 89

Patek Philippe ceremoniously announced this watch for their 150th anniversary in 1989 as the most complicated watch ever made in the history of, well, pretty much everything. Patek Philippe is very well versed in the art of making watches that are either very simple or extremely complicated. A few examples of this are the Sky Moon Tourbillon watches which are literally out of this world, the 175th-anniversary commemorative wristwatch and their Grand Complications lineups.

What sets the Calibre 89 apart from other complex watches, apart from the complications, of course, is the history. 56 years before the Calibre 89 came along Patek Philippe made the world’s most complicated watch ever seen, known to every watch fan as the Henry Graves Supercomplication, it was commissioned by a very wealthy banker who was ironically called Henry Graves, it was made of over 900 parts and was recently sold for $24.4m.

The Calibre 89 betters the Henry Graves piece in its technical details despite the Henry Graves watch demanding a much higher prices. Let’s have a look at the list of complications within this massive piece:

  • Day of the Week

  • Day of the Month

  • Second-time zone

  • Century display

  • Decade display

  • Year display

  • Month display

  • Leap year indicator

  • Date of Easter

  • 12-hour recorder

  • Winding crown position indicator

  • Power reserve indicator

  • Sunrise time indicator

  • Sunset time indicator

  • Star chart

  • Equation of time

  • Thermometer

  • Split seconds hand

  • Sidereal time

  • Moon phase

  • Sun hand

  • Westminster chime (using 4 gongs)

  • Grand sonnerie

  • Petite sonnerie

  • Three-way setting indicator

  • Tourbillon regulator

When I said massive I meant it, this watch is close to 90mm in diameter, its also 41mm thick and weighs 1.1kg in total. 4 were produced with one in yellow gold, rose gold, white gold and platinum. They cost somewhere close to $6m.


Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie

This is a super complicated wristwatch you should be aware of if not now is the perfect time to brush up on your knowledge of Jaeger LeCoultres works. The Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie is one of the most complicated wristwatches ever made. It has a grande (that pun was awful) total of 26 different complications and yet it looks remarkably simple when viewed. Well, mostly anyway. Jaeger-LeCoultre has a history of making horological instruments which go beyond the traditional boundaries of the industry. The Atmos clock is a very good example, it uses very slight changes in the pressure of the atmosphere its in to keep itself wound up and running, essentially making it similar to an automatic watch as it needs little manual winding. Then theres also the Gyrotourbillon, a unique invention that adds a third dimension to the tourbillon, thereby completely removing all effects gravity has on the accuracy of the watch.

Heres the list of things that the Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie can do:

  • Westminster chime

  • 4 crystal gongs (uses the sapphire crystal to amplify the sound)

  • Grande sonnerie

  • Petite sonnerie

  • Minute repeater

  • Striking mode selector

  • Instant minute repeater activator

  • Silence function

  • Day indicator

  • Retrograde day indicator

  • Month indicator

  • Retrograde month indicator

  • Date indicator

  • Retrograde date indicator

  • Jumping hour and minute hands

  • Flying tourbillon

  • Perpetual calendar

  • Regulator with inertia blocks

  • Power reserve indicator

  • Striking mechanism power reserve indicator

  • Incremental hours setting

  • Incremental minute setting

  • Automatic mode switch

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie will set you back a cool $2.5M to buy outright. Interestingly this watch also comes shipped with its own high security, German made safe box which has a clever function that allows the owner to hear the watch striking even when the safe is sealed closed. Neat.


Vacheron Constantin Mystery Complicated Watch

We dont exactly know what is going to be put inside of this watch yet. We can be sure that there will be a sky chart in the watch as well as a perpetual calendar and the watch itself is believed to be the most complicated ever. Rest assured that all will be revealed on WristReview in time.



A keen bass guitar player, Harlan enjoys all the perks modern watchmaking technologies the industry has to offer. Although you might catch him sampling Omegas or the Rolex, Harlan loves all things Haute Horology, with his three favourite brands being Breguet, A.Lange & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin. He hopes to study timekeeping more in depth someday and will never be able to thank his father enough for introducing him to the industry. Read his articles here.