These watches can be seen as the ultimate form of creative expression for watchmakers.
The result of a desire to push the watchmakers art to the limit and create something exceptional and to defy the physical limitations of a watch case and combine the greatest number of complications possible.
The first pocket watches were descendants of mechanical clocks, these clocks often featured several functions including astronomical ones.
So it was natural that the first watchmakers should attempt to feature some of these functions in the watches they created. This led to the first grande complication watches.
A notable example would be the watch that Breguet created for the Queen of France in 1827, called the “Marie-Antoinette watch”, it featured every complication invented for that time, including a minute repeater, perpetual calender, equation of time and power reserve.
Other grande complication (pocket) watches of historical note are, “Leroy 01” with 20 complications, from 1904, the “Graves” by Patek Phillipe with twenty four complications from 1933 and the most complicated pocket watch ever, also by Patek, the “Calibre 89” from 1989 with thirty three complications!
Modern ‘Grand Complication’ watches
British watchmaker Graham created their ultimate watch when it released its King George III watch. Ten were made, five in Gold and five in Platinum.
The grande complication features a tourbillon, minute repeater and a split seconds chronograph that chimes when starting and stopping. Its reputed to be the worlds first chiming Chronograph..
These days creating a watch with “only” one tourbillon isnt adequate enough to capture the headlines or peek the interest of serious watch collectors. So the Swiss company Blu decided to create a watch that would unequivicably demand attention.
They did this by creating a uniquely complex arrangement of three tourbillons.
The Blu Majesty MT3 has a semi-flying tourbillon which is attached to an hour tourbillon which then rotates round the dial on a 12 hour toubillon. It was shown at Baselworld 2007.