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Everything You Need to Know About Watch Complications

Chronographs, calendars, GMTs — watches these days include much more than simple time-telling.

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Many watches can do things besides simply telling the time. Whether it's a stopwatch, a second time zone, an alarm or a range of other features, watchmakers can add functionality in addition to basic timekeeping, which are called complications. These require at least some additional complexity beyond the already intricate mechanical clockwork inside a watch.

Even the common date display can, technically, be considered a complication. Although there's some variation in how the term is used, it mostly refers to functions that are added to the movement itself — hence, something like a dive watch's rotating bezel doesn't typically qualify. (On the other hand, a tourbillon is complicated, but it doesn't add functionality and is rather a type of escapement rather than a true complication.)

Getting technical? Don't worry too much, because we've gathered the range of common watch complications with clear breakdowns and handy lists of the best examples for your perusal. Below, you can find the complication you're looking for, understand it in greater depth or just get a broader sense of the fascinating world of horology.

Simplifying Complications: All The Things Your Watch Can Do, Besides Tell the Time

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Julie Kraulis

Many watches can do much more than simply tell the time — here are some common "complications" and what each one does.

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This Is How Calendar Watches Work

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Forget the Apple Watch. Complete, annual and perpetual calendar watches are the original smart watches.

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How a Chronograph Watch Can Actually Make Your Life Easier

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Henry Phillips

Chronographs are often billed as tools for the racetrack or cockpit, but their true utility is far more pedestrian.

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How a Chronograph Watch Works: Everything You Need to Know

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Hunter D. Kelley

The chronograph watch is for a man of action, but its mechanics are subtle and wonderfully complicated.

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How Rolex and the Date Window Changed the Face of Watches

how rolex and the date window changed the face of watches
Rolex

The common 3 o’clock date display window originates from none other than the Rolex Datejust introduced in 1945.

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The GMT Watch, Explained

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Rolex

The GMT watch is brilliant not because of its complexity but because of its simple ingenuity. Here's how it works.

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The Moonphase Watch, Explained

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Henry Phillips

A moonphase watch reminds us that we’re all just spinning through space on this pale blue dot, orbited by a glowing rock, mere cogs in a bigger clockwork.

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This Unique Vintage Watch Offers a Complication You’ve Never Seen

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eBay

These watches from the 1970s provided their intended customers with a reference for when to pray, and in which direction.

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Travel in Style with These Seven Incredible World Time Watches

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World time watches allow you to see the current time in any place in the world with just a quick glance at your wrist.

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What the Hell Is a Minute Repeater Watch?

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Image provided by A. Lange & Söhne / Lange Uhren GmbH 2020

Repeater watches occupy a special place in the hearts of watch enthusiasts.

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A Quick Guide To The Power Reserve Indicator

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A brief explanation of this unique complication and what it does.

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U.S. Presidents Relied on This Innovative Alarm Watch

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Vulcain

The Vulcain Cricket pioneered fascinating technical solutions, a mechanical alarm, and was the choice of mountain climbers and U.S.

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