Grande Complication – Beyond All Time
1 March, 2021
The Grande Complication is, without doubt, a watchmaking sensation. In watchmaking, the name has been used since time immemorial for only the most complex of all wristwatches. With good reason. Beating away at the heart of the watch, at a constant, even rate, is the result of 50,000 hours of development by some of the world’s most qualified watchmakers. The creation of the first wristwatch-size, series-produced Grande Complication took no fewer than seven years. IWC’s watchmakers distilled all the know-how and experience gained in a century of manufacturing watches to make, among other things, the precise calculations and highly sophisticated mechanics required to master the complexities of the leap years. The scale of their achievement in converting and transmitting the mechanism’s movements is perhaps best illustrated by the century slide: the balance completes more than 12.5 billon oscillations before the century disc moves once. The moon phase display, too, is Haute Horlogerie for connoisseurs. It measures the time from one full moon to the next to an accuracy previously unequalled in a wristwatch: exactly 29.53050 days. The crowning glory of the complications is the adapted minute repeater, which chimes out the time to an accuracy of one minute on command. The repeating mechanism alone comprises 250 individual parts and is powered by a separate system of springs, while the other 21 displays and functions take the energy they need automatically from movements of the wearer’s wrist. For the watch’s complex main movement, only the best was good enough: 75 functional rubies, an unbreakable Nivaflex® mainspring, a top-quality Glucydur® beryllium alloy balance and a winding rotor made of gold. Before assembly, many parts of the movement are manually polished, chamfered to an angle of 45 degrees and, where appropriate, decorated. In the end, it has all been worth it: the countless hours invested, the passion for consummate craftsmanship and the quest for perfection. Even today, the Grande Complication is one of the most complex wristwatches in the world, and at the same time, one of the easiest to operate.