During WW-1 wristwatches became popular with military officers and Cartier and Patek Philippe then others began making limited edition and high priced models to meet demand.
The connoisseur or collector is a new market, and a market assisted by lottery winners, pop stars, and movie stars who may actually wear the watches. The watch makers do not make money from the high-end timepieces, they are merely produced to give their brand an ambience of exclusivity, of continuing traditions, of luxury and quality.
It used to be the case of complications for men and jewels for women, but all watch makers are getting into the sports sector, and this appeals to everyone, and Bling is bling, so jewels are now for everyone who can afford them.
Complications include chronograph functions for timing laps, moon phase indicators for tracking slices of the lunar pie, and perpetual calendar functions which track days, months and even years for centuries.
New and useful complications, such as power reserve indicators that alert when your watch needs rewinding, or GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) functions to make it easier for travellers to keep track of multiple time zones.
One of the most prestigious and costly complications to be found is the Tourbillon. This an intricate mechanism invented in 1795 by Abraham-Louis Breguet for pocket watches to compensate for the fact that these tend to be maintained in a vertical, upright, position in the pocket, and are thus adversely affected by gravity. Tourbillons are the norm today even for wristwatches, but can be there merely for ‘instant cache’.
Another such complication is the Minute Repeater by Vacheron Constantin — ever rising in popularity. This complication helps by chiming or ‘repeating’ the current time at the push of a button. Using bells of different tones, a minute repeater will ring out hours, quarter hours, and the minutes past since the last quarter hour.
Many of the world’s most expensive watches are produced in severely limited quantities and frequently have buyers lined up long before they’re finished, often at rates of just a few per year.
These watches are not always worn. For a start, they are very expensive to buy and insure, and they are not very good at keeping time, despite all the hype about craftsmanship.
The Official Chronometer Testing Bureau (C.O.S.C.) can produce a chronometer certificate for a watch that runs fast or slow within acceptable limits. The average daily tolerances for chronometer rates are between -4 and +6 seconds. This means that even a watch that loses up to 4 seconds a day can still be called a chronometer.
Typically the movement is tested in five different positions:
* Crown down
* Crown left
* Crown up
* Dial down
* Dial up
It is then adjusted in each of these positions to the average daily tolerance (-4 and +6 seconds)…however, the story does not end there.
The first thing you should do now is run the watch in by wearing it every day. If necessary, the watch should be readjusted after the running-in period. Then…
You as the owner, are duty bound to keep an eye on the deviations and note down how fast or slow the watch is every day. Your record might well look like this:
Date Deviation at 8.15 pm Note
1 July 0 seconds watch set at 8.15 pm
2 July + 10 seconds
3 July + 20 seconds
You then have to go back to your retailer who will arrange to have your watch reset on the basis of the information you provide. In this case, he would set your watch to go about 8 seconds slower per day.
Under certain circumstances, it may be necessary to repeat these steps but in the end, with perseverance, your watch will be perfectly set to your personal lifestyle.