By Rebecca Doulton
Anything that a watch does beyond the standard function of telling the time is known as a complication. From minute repeaters with automata to sidereal time indicators, brands aim for the wow factor and pile complication upon complication into their movements. I call these the show-off pieces - men's watches that aim to knock the socks off even the most hardened horophiles.
Montblanc watches put on an amazing show this year with its Metamorphosis II, a two-faced timepiece equipped with sliding doors and elevators. In the classic position, the watch displays the hours, minutes and date. If you push the slide on the case, however, the two sliding doors are opened, revealing a completely different dial with chronograph functions. What's even more amazing is the way the counter to measure the elapsed minutes of the chronograph rises gradually from the depths of the watch. Needless to say, this is an extremely complex symphony to play and took four years of hard work to juggle an orchestra of 746 different components.
Next up is Cartier's Rotonde de Cartier Grande Complication Skeleton watch. Armed with a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater, a flying tourbillon and an automatic skeletonised movement, this is the most complex of all Cartier watches to date. Luckily, everything is on view, thanks to the openwork white gold dial and skeletonised calibre 9406 MC. But this is not all: the movement that powers the three complications has been whittled down to a remarkable thinness of just 5.49mm.
Given the extreme complexity of Greubel Forsey watches, I am only too happy to see them revisited in new materials, giving me another chance to decipher their workings. Designed for the world traveller who probably owns his own jet, the GMT timepiece has been re-edited this year in a lightweight titanium case with an ADLC black coating for additional hardness. The GMT watch represents world time with a rotating 3D globe that completes a rotation every 24 hours - illuminated by a lateral window on the case - and a second time zone indication in a disc at 10 o'clock. Keeping everything in perfect synchronisation is the house speciality, a 25º inclined tourbillon that rotates every 24 seconds. If you're still with me, on the reverse is a world time disc with the names of 24 cities. My sincere hope is that, if you are one of the fortunate 22 individuals who come to own this watch, you take the instruction manual along on your next flight.