Most expensive complications to produce?
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  1. #1
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    Most expensive complications to produce?

    Does anyone know how the various mechanical complications rank in difficulty to produce? I don't mean combinations of complications, but single complications. Based on a some comparisons across brands and within brands, it seems like they rank something like this from highest to lowest:

    Minute Repeater / Sonnerie
    Tourbillon
    Perpetual Calendar
    Alarm
    Chronograph
    Extended Power Reserve with Indicator
    GMT
    Date

    Of course, there are certain variations of the above that change the pricing a bit, like rattrapante chronographs, quarter repeaters, annual calendars, multi-axis tourbillons, etc. Also, exactly how well the movement was made and cased will have a far greater impact on the cost than the complication itself, making comparisons tricky. What other distinct complications have I missed, or is my list misordered? My rationale for ordering them that way is as follows:

    1. Minute Repeaters always seem to be priced higher than Tourbillons, whether made by the Swiss or Chinese. They are also far more complicated in mechanism.
    2. While there are only a couple Chinese perpetual calendars, and they cost more than basic tourbillons, Swiss perpetual calendars seem to be priced lower than Swiss tourbillons in many examples.
    3. Mechanical chronographs are fairly common in the lower price ranges, but not mechanical alarms. I read somewhere that one of Poljot's stated reasons for discontinuing their mechanical alarms was that they cost more than the chronographs to produce, yet had less demand.
    4. Power reserve is a little tricky, since there aren't many out there with 8-day or longer reserves, and this requires more work than just using a bigger mainspring. It seems that they may be a little easier to do than a chrono finished to the same level, though.

  2. #2
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    Re: Most expensive complications to produce?

    Yep, a Grande Sonnerie is atop the heap.

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    Re: Most expensive complications to produce?

    And by a wide, wide margin. The full-blown versions offering full Westminster carillon are incredible examples of tiny automata.

    A long PR isn't a complication, it's a functional upgrade. One can argue, so is the tourbillon...but usually, these days, it's purely a visual toy.

    The major complications not mentioned...

    --a day/night is pretty much at the low end
    --moon phase is a submodule in itself. A good moon phase...good to, say, a one day per century error...is probably on par with a triple calendar. The incredibly accurate ones...error of a day every 10,000 years or better...might require more complexity. A standard moon phase isn't that complex, but 1 day in 10,000 years may be more involved.

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    Re: Most expensive complications to produce?

    This is grail material
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FcKe_PkcCPc


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Re: Most expensive complications to produce?

    Quote Originally Posted by clarken View Post
    This is grail material
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FcKe_PkcCPc


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    While I appreciate what it is, it doesn't really do it for me. Certainly an amazing piece though.

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    Re: Most expensive complications to produce?

    --moon phase is a submodule in itself. A good moon phase...good to, say, a one day per century error...is probably on par with a triple calendar. The incredibly accurate ones...error of a day every 10,000 years or better...might require more complexity. A standard moon phase isn't that complex, but 1 day in 10,000 years may be more involved.
    Moon phase is relatively simple to produce, once you have your calculations right. Ochs & Junior achieved 1 day in 3500 years with only 5 parts in the gear train. Andreas Strehler achieved even much better accuracy with only 4 additional parts.

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    Re: Most expensive complications to produce?

    Where should retrograde hands go on the list? And how about equation of time? Would you consider a fusee to be a complication?
    ​Grand Seiko SBGE033, Jaquest Droz Grande Seconde, Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute, Prometheus Piranha, Orient Wingman, Zeppelin Flatline 7366-3, Glashutte Original PanoMaticLunar, Epos Emotion 3390, Steinhart Ocean 2 Premium, Hamilton Khaki Field, Omega 1965 Vintage, Seiko 5 SNKK27, Seiko 1977 Vintage, Nomos Orion 38, Wittnauer 1960's Vintage, Movado SL1 Chrono, Seiko SBQK085, Cyma Le Locle, Casio Oceanus OCW-S100-1AJF

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    Re: Most expensive complications to produce?

    Repertoire?

  10. #9
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    Re: Most expensive complications to produce?

    Quote Originally Posted by shendizadeh View Post
    Repertoire?
    Not sure that's a complication. Did you mean rattrapante?

    Also just thought of the foudroyante... not sure that one is all that tough.
    ​Grand Seiko SBGE033, Jaquest Droz Grande Seconde, Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute, Prometheus Piranha, Orient Wingman, Zeppelin Flatline 7366-3, Glashutte Original PanoMaticLunar, Epos Emotion 3390, Steinhart Ocean 2 Premium, Hamilton Khaki Field, Omega 1965 Vintage, Seiko 5 SNKK27, Seiko 1977 Vintage, Nomos Orion 38, Wittnauer 1960's Vintage, Movado SL1 Chrono, Seiko SBQK085, Cyma Le Locle, Casio Oceanus OCW-S100-1AJF

  11. #10
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    Re: Most expensive complications to produce?

    Rattrapante is definitely a complication.

    Equation of time would be a bear. I would've thought it impossible, but it might be approximated adequately, because it *does* exist on at least one piece. Yes, *that* piece...the Vacheron Constantine 57260. If you're not familiar with it, look it up. It transcends insane. EoT, from wiki:

    The equation of time is the difference between time measured using a sundial, also known as true or apparent solar time, and time measured using a clock, or mean solar time.
    Solar time says it's noon when the sun is at its highest point for the day, and a solar day runs from solar noon to solar noon. But those days are not 24 hours long. If you look at sunrise and sunset time tables, you can see that for your location, things shift. PLUS, of course, time zones inherently incorporate a bias.

    It's pretty easy to find the formulas for taking a lat, lon, and date, and computing sunrise and sunset times...and therefore solar noon, which would be the midpoint of that interval. But there's a big problem: the formulas use the trigonometric functions rather a lot. :) That would probably be impossible to implement in a mechanical watch. To do it, VC used a *fixed* lat/lon...presumably that of the (incredibly FILTHY DIRTY RICH!!!!!) gentleman who ordered the piece.

    Mmm...the Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 also seems to have an EoT, but the review where I saw it mentioned, has the EoT confused with the moonphase calendar. Apparently you can have one made, if you have about $2.5M to spend.

    A foudroyante seems like it would be very easy, if you match the basic frequency of the movement.

    This is turning out to be quite the entertaining thread, I must say. :)

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