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Luxury Watch Movements, Complications And The Start of Spring

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Did you know there's a high end watch that can indicate the exact date that spring starts? Before we get into that, let's talk about the equinox that just took place last weekend.

The beginning of the spring season is marked by the vernal equinox, which occurred on March 20th at 12:30 AM EDT in the northern hemisphere. But what exactly is the vernal equinox? It is the moment when the Sun is precisely aligned with the Earth's equator and the duration of day and night are practically the same. Therefore, at the time that the equinox occurs there is a place along the equator where the Sun would be exactly above your head. September 22nd will be the next date that day and night will be roughly the same length, which is called the autumnal equinox and is the traditional start of fall season in the northern hemisphere.

Back to luxury watches now. The Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 watch can accurately display the dates of the equinoxes. With its 57 complications, its manufacturer is calling this ultra high end watch the most complicated watch ever made. So let's define some watch making terminology.

Watch gears

The heart of every watch is its movement, or also called caliber. The movement is the engine that allows the watch to display time accurately and it can be quartz or mechanical. A quartz watch uses an electronic circuit which is connected to a small quartz crystal that vibrates at a specific frequency when exposed to an electric current supplied by a battery.  These vibrations provide the input for the dials to display time in analog watches. On the other hand, mechanical watches use a spring as the main energy source.  After being wound, this spring drives a set of gears and various other small components that are attached to the watch dials.

Luxury watch movement

Mechanical movements can be further broken down into two main types: automatic and manual winding. Automatic watches have a mechanism that allows the watch spring to be self-wound as the watch moves while it's worn on the wrist. Manual watches need to be hand-wound periodically by turning the crown of the watch. Although quartz watches can maintain better accuracy, mechanical movements require much higher levels of craftsmanship, are significantly more expensive and have become somewhat of an art form. Hence, the vast majority of luxury watches have mechanical movements.

In addition to telling time, some watches can perform other functions, like displaying the current calendar date or acting as a stopwatch (chronograph). These supplementary features are called complications. Certain intricate functions, as well the number of added complications, can significantly increase the complexity of the mechanical watch movement. The function that enables high end watches like the Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 to display the dates for equinoxes is called an astronomical calendar complication. This type of complication also includes, among others: moon phases, seasons, and solar and lunar eclipses, which represent just a sample of all the features incorporated on the Reference 57260.

Advanced complications require a considerable amount of design work and craftsmanship from the watchmaker. Thus, luxury watches with several complications have high sale prices and are popular with watch connoisseurs and collectors.

The following are examples of timepieces with complications in our watch rental collection:

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