The 5 most expensive watch complications

In luxury watchmaking, the presence of horological complications represents the pinnacle of horological art and engineering. These complications are part of the centuries-old tradition of precision and aesthetics in watchmaking.

Among the wide range of complex functions a watch can have, there are five that stand out for their difficulty and the significant impact they have on the value of the watch.

Below, we look at these complications and the reasons behind their high prices and their pre-eminent place in the world of haute horlogerie.


The tourbillon is a product of ingenuity and craftsmanship within the realm of high-end watchmaking. Conceived by the legendary watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet in the late 18th century, its original purpose was to improve the accuracy of pocket watches, which were prone to time fluctuations due to the effects of gravity when held in a fixed position. The solution was as elegant as it was complex, as the tourbillon houses the regulating organs of the watch (the escapement and balance) inside a rotating cage. This constant rotation averages out any positional errors caused by gravity, thus increasing accuracy.

The construction of a tourbillon is a work of micro-engineering. Its components are tiny and must be assembled with great precision. The cage and associated parts are often painstakingly finished by hand, adding a layer of craftsmanship to its technical brilliance. The complexity of the tourbillon and the skill required to create it make it one of the most expensive and revered complications in watchmaking.

The 5 most expensive watch complications

Minute repeater

At a time when there was no artificial lighting except for candles and the like, the minute repeater was really handy – you could tell the time audibly in the dark.

However, in modern times, this complication has simply become valued solely for its complexity and has no real useful use. The operation of the minute repeater consists of an instrument that represents the current time using a series of precisely tuned hammers and gongs within the movement of the watch. The hours, quarters and minutes are indicated by different tones, allowing the user to know the exact time by sound alone.

Designing and assembling the mechanism of a minute repeater is a task reserved for only the most experienced watchmakers. The size and shape of the hammers and gongs must be precisely calculated to achieve the perfect tones. In addition, the arrangement of the components inside the watch case is very important to ensure optimum sound transmission. The harmonious interplay between engineering and acoustics contributes to the exclusive status of the minute repeater and its considerable cost.

Perpetual calendar

The perpetual calendar hides the mechanical ingenuity involved in replicating astronomical cycles within a watch. This complication not only displays the day, date and month, but also takes into account the irregularities of our calendar system. Its complex network of gears and levers automatically adjusts itself according to the length of the months, including the addition of 29 February during leap years. Some very advanced perpetual calendars can incorporate the cycle of leap years and even other celestial phenomena, such as moon phases.

Building a perpetual calendar requires a great deal of knowledge of astronomical cycles, as well as exceptional watchmaking skill to translate those cycles into a miniature, self-setting mechanical system. Its ability to maintain accuracy over years and even decades without manual intervention underlines the value of the perpetual calendar as a prized and expensive complication in the realm of high-end watches.

Moon phase

Although perhaps less mechanically complex than the previous watch complications, the moon phase is a practical function and one that also makes a watch more accurate. It represents the waxing and waning of the visible portion of the moon as observed from Earth. Traditionally, a moon phase display consists of a disc adorned with two representations of the moon rotating beneath a fixed aperture, revealing different portions to mimic the changing appearance of the moon in the night sky.

Creating a moon-phase complication requires precise gearing to ensure that the disc accurately reflects the 29.5-day lunar cycle. The aesthetic treatment of the moon disc itself can also contribute to the cost of the complication, with some manufacturers employing techniques such as enamelling or hand-engraving to achieve a detailed result.

complicacion funcion frelojes fase lunar

We invite you to discover Ideal Joyeros’ haute horlogerie catalogue so that you can find the watch that best suits your style and preferences.




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