This year's most technically elevated complications are made for watch connoisseurs

Outfit: Velvet tuxedo jacket, velvet high-waist shorts and sheer logo stockings by Fendi; Strappy heels with pearl detail by Dolce & Gabbana; Lounge chair from Lorgan’s The Retro Store; Watch: Franck Muller Vanguard Rose.
ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Outfit: Double-breasted suit with pearl and logo charms by Dolce & Gabbana; Asymmetric column dress with chiffon train by Salvatore Ferragamo; Watches: Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon and A. Lange & Sohne Little Lange 1 Moon Phase. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

As the name suggests, complications are a category of watches that are fascinatingly complex. A special breed of technically sophisticated watches, complications defy the limits of imagination and micro-engineering, transforming mere time-telling instruments into works of mechanical art.

Besides telling the time, complications come with extra features and functions such as calendars that are automatically programmed to be accurate for centuries, or regulating mechanisms that rotate theatrically to help improve timekeeping accuracy.

Of course, these complications are also exceedingly difficult to construct, highly coveted and often quite rare - which is why it is always a treat to appreciate them up-close.

Franck Muller Vanguard Rose Skeleton

PHOTO: FRANCK MULLER

Franck Muller's predilection for ostentation is always backed by a high level of technical know-how and artistry.

The Vanguard Rose Skeleton may not be a mechanical complication per se, but it is a remarkable work of art that demands a high level of technical competency from both Franck Muller's watchmakers and artisans.

The dazzling shower of brilliant-cut diamonds and depiction of roses on the 18K rose gold watch belie the fastidious work behind the creation.

The Vanguard Rose Skeleton's hand-wound movement is a robust performer, capable of delivering up to four days of power reserve on a single wind. But it is the watch's exuberant decorative savoir faire that steals the show, commanding one's attention with its artfully skeletonised dial with rose and leaf motifs that are carefully hand-painted by a master enameller.

Price: from $60,700


Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon

PHOTO: AUDEMARS PIGUET

Connoisseurs who like their complications with plenty of pizzazz can get acquainted with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon. In addition to its visually dramatic rotation on the dial, the tourbillon here is a "ying" variant, which gives the mechanism the illusion of being suspended and rotating in space.

But that is not all. The watch seeks to dazzle with an impressive display of colourful precious stones.

There are six models in this collection, each set with a variety of brilliant- or baguette-cut gemstones. Four of them feature various executions with graded blue sapphires, and two feature a rainbow palette of gemstones.

Our pick? The version fully paved with multi-coloured gemstones. After all, why be coy if you want to flaunt it?

Price: 211,700 Swiss francs (S$310,405)


A. Lange & Sohne Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst

PHOTO: A. LANGE & SOHNE

A. Lange & Sohne is famous for classically inspired timepieces imbued with top-notch mechanical engineering and aesthetic finesse.

The Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, which is housed in 18K white gold, showcases both to great effect.

The watch features an intricately crafted tourbillon on the dial at six o'clock. The tourbillon encases the watch's most important regulating components in a tiny cage and rotates them against the force of gravity to optimise timekeeping precision.

The user can even start and stop the rotating tourbillon at will by pulling the crown so as to set the time more accurately.

Framing the tourbillon are intricate hand-engraved and hand-enamelled decorations that allude to the watch's "Handwerkskunst" suffix, which means "handcrafted" in German.

Price: $475,000


Richard Mille RM 74-02 Automatic Tourbillon

PHOTO: RICHARD MILLE

Richard Mille is a contemporary watchmaking behemoth that builds high-performance complications with state-of-the-art materials and technologies that are as ostentatious as they are powerful.

The new RM 74-02, featuring a new engine that is developed and made entirely in-house, is the latest in the brand's line of signature ultra-lightweight and robust tourbillons sheathed in trademark showiness.

On the RM 74-02, Richard Mille's signature slim tonneau-shaped case with exposed screws is crafted in 18K red gold in the middle and topped with a layer of Gold Carbon TPT. A unique material bearing woodgrain-like texture, Carbon TPT is known to be super lightweight, shock-proof and corrosion-resistant. The slightly gilded version here is made by compressing hundreds of layers of Carbon TPT and gold leaf.

At the same time, the RM 74-02 Automatic Tourbillon's skeletonised dial vies for attention with polished red gold bridges and, of course, the tourbillon whirling at six o'clock.

Price upon request


Patek Philippe Ref. 7040/250G-001 Rare Handcrafts Minute Repeater

PHOTO: PATEK PHILIPPE

The minute repeater complication, which chimes the time on demand, is one of the hardest to craft.

Besides the intricacies of the mechanisms, watchmakers have to be aurally sensitive to orchestrate chimes that strike a delicate balance between pitch and clarity, and volume and resonance. And Patek Philippe is among the best in the business when it comes to minute repeaters.

Made for women, the Ref. 7040/250G-001 in white gold is an exquisite take on the complication.

Within the watch is an automatic minute repeater movement with two hammers and gongs lauded for its pristine chimes.

Just as captivating on the outside, the watch is richly decorated with brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel, set using a patented technique to accord the stones maximum shine, and an evocative hand-decorated transparent blue enamel dial with a sunburst motif.

This is truly a multi-sensory masterpiece.

Price upon request


Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon

PHOTO: FRANCK MULLER

Franck Muller, which proclaims itself the "Master of Complications", can be credited with popularising the modern-day tourbillon wristwatch. The tourbillon was originally created for pocket watches 220 years ago.

In the early 1980s, Franck Muller's eponymous founder revived the complication by displaying the tourbillon on the face of a wristwatch. The masterstroke not only clued collectors in on the tourbillon's charms, but also ignited a demand for the complication that continues to this day.

Having created versions that range from multi-axis tourbillons to ones that set the world record for the fastest rotation, Franck Muller's Grand Central Tourbillon now has the beloved complication right in the spotlight.

Housed in the brand's signature tonneau-shaped "Cintree Curvex" case, the tourbillon occupies centre stage in the middle of the dial, slightly elevated for maximum visual drama, and framed by Art Deco-style numbers with a beautiful Clous de Paris-patterned guilloche dial.

Price: $200,700


Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar

PHOTO: BVLGARI

If you want bragging rights, this watch won the top prize - the Aiguille d'Or (The Golden Hand) award - at the Fondation du Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve (GPHG), the industry's annual watchmaking award showcase, in November.

A worthy champion, it showcases the best of Bvlgari's horological prowess, as well as time-honoured watchmaking tenets such as ultra-thinness, functionality and style.

Indeed, the watch's sand-blasted titanium case measuring just 5.8mm in height - with an automatic movement inside that is only 2.75mm thick - makes it the world's thinnest automatic perpetual calendar watch.

Regular perpetual calendars, which display the full suite of calendar indicators, coupled with mechanical memory to correct itself automatically at the end of 30- and 31-day months, February months and leap years, are typically hefty.

The Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar circumvents the technical challenges with forward-thinking engineering, such as employing a micro-rotor and assembling all the calendar indicators on the same plane. And it does so while staying stylish and svelte.

Price: $84,100


A. Lange & Sohne Little Lange 1 Moon Phase

PHOTO: A. LANGE & SOHNE

The moon phase display, which charts the orbit of the moon around the earth, brims with enigma and romanticism. And in the case of the Little Lange 1 Moon Phase, it is heightened with mechanical superiority and evocative decorations.

Available in a 36.8mm 18K white gold case, with the option of brilliant-cut diamonds, the watch sparkles with iridescence.

Its gorgeous midnight-blue dial, which features the Lange 1's famous off-centred time and outsized date displays, is coated with dark-blue gold flux that recalls a starlit sky.

The moon phase display is just as evocative - crafted in white gold and decorated with 628 laser-cut "stars".

Completing the package is a rigorously constructed hand-wound movement, which ensures that the moon phase display is accurate for the next 122.6 years.

Price: $64,800

SPH Brightcove Video
For those looking for a very special timepiece to adorn their wrist – or the wrist of a loved one – there is ST's Crown & Bezel supplement.
Take a look behind the scenes at some of the shoots featuring some spectacular watches.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.