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Grande Complication wristwatches: three of the best

Grande complication timepieces have always fascinated watchmakers and connoisseurs. And grande complication wristwatches, with the constraint of smaller spaces compared to pocket watches, are even rarer and more desirable.

Sometimes the definition "grande complication" is applied quite generically to watches that combine complicated functions like minute repetition, perpetual calendar or other astronomic indications but in this article we adhere to the definition which most experts agree on, i.e. a watch that contains at least the following master complications: a) minute repetition, b) perpetual calendar with moon phases, and c) split-seconds (rattrapante) chronograph.

Combining all these functions in a single watch requires exceptional watchmaking skills but this is not the only challenge. In fact, not always grande complication watches are aesthetically balanced due to the difficulty of harmonising many indications in a limited area.

While there are several other wristwatches that offer even even more functions, there are not many that can compete with these three extraordinary timepieces - all created in the 1990s - in terms of design beauty.

Presented in 1991, the Blancpain 1735 Grande Complication features a one-minute tourbillon regulator, a perpetual calendar with moon phases and moon age, a co-axial split seconds chronograph and a minute repeater activated by the slide on the band.



The 18-karat gold movement bridges and solid while gold automatic rotor of Calibre 1735 are meticulously hand-engraved with Clous de Paris decoration. The platinum case has a size of 42 mm and a total thickness of 16.5 mm.


Requiring over ten months of work of a watchmaker master, the Blancpain 1735 Grande Complication was produced in just 30 pieces from 1991 to 2009, when the last example of the 30 left the factory.




In 1993, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the brand, IWC replied to Blancpain with the renowned Il Destriero Scafusia. Following the already exceptional Grand Complication created by IWC in 1990, the Destriero Scafusia went further integrating tourbillon, minute repeater, perpetual calendar with moon phases and four digit year, and split-seconds chronograph.



The hand-wound Calibre 18680 was based on a Valjoux 7750, keeping some elements of the original gear train and chronograph module, and it was richly decorated in relief.



Like the Blancpain 1735 Grande Complication, the IWC Il Destriero Scafusia has a diameter of just 42 mm (42.2 to be precise),  a remarkable achievement for such a complicated watch. Thickness is 18 mm.

IWC produced only 125 examples of Il Destriero Scafusia between 1993 and 1999, most of them in yellow gold, some in platinum. A few unique pieces with black dials or gem-set cases were also made.




The Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Grande Complication Automatique was unveiled in 1995 with minutes repetition, perpetual calendar, moon phases and split seconds chronograph in a 42 mm diameter case with a thickness of just 14 mm.




The automatic winding Audemars Piguet Calibre 2885, with 52 jewels and hand decorated rose gold skeletonized rotor, is also used for the Royal Oak Grande Complication as well as for the Royal Oak Offshore Grande Complication. The Jules Audemars Grande Complication Automatique is still produced with sapphire dial and white indicators.


We believe that these three exceptional timepieces still remain three of the very best grande complication wristwatches for technical excellence, proportions, wearability and visual appeal.
Name

A. Lange & Sohne,108,AkriviA,8,Alain Silberstein,1,alarm,10,Alpina,11,Andersen Geneve,2,Andersmann,2,Andreas Strehler,5,Angelus,4,annual calendar,34,Anonimo,15,Anthony de Haas,1,Antiquorum,2,Antoine Martin,2,Antoine Preziuso,1,Apple,1,Apple Watch,1,Aquadive,2,Aquastar,1,Armin Strom,54,Arnold and Son,22,Astarwatch,1,Atelier de Chronometrie,1,Ateliers deMonaco,2,Atmos,1,Auctions,68,Audemars Piguet,61,Autodromo,1,automaton,2,Bamford,2,Baselword 2022,1,Baselworld,8,BaselWorld 2013,50,BaselWorld 2014,53,Baselworld 2015,69,Baselworld 2016,27,Baselworld 2017,64,Baselworld 2018,75,Baselworld 2019,41,Baselworld 2020,2,Baume,3,Baume et Mercier,39,Bell & Ross,31,Bernard Lederer Universe,1,Bernhard Lederer,2,Bernhard Zwinz,1,bespoke,1,Blancpain,66,BLU,1,blue dial,3,Bonhams,2,Bovet,11,Brands histories,1,Breguet,92,Breitling,54,Bremont,1,Bremont Watch Company,4,Breva,2,bronze,21,Bücherei,1,Bulgari,75,Bulova,1,Burberry,1,C3H5N3O9,1,carbon,1,carillon,2,Carl F. Bucherer,2,Carl Suchy,1,Carrera,7,Cartier,43,ceramic,7,Certina,6,Chanel,3,Chaumet,3,chiming hour,7,Chopard,33,Christie's,6,Christophe Claret,5,Christopher Ward,9,chronograph,514,chronometer,32,Chronoswiss,5,Citizen,3,co-axial,1,column-wheel,7,complete calendar,12,complications,78,concept watch,5,Concord,1,constant-force,35,Corum,17,Credor,1,CSEM,1,Cyrus,19,Czapek,6,Dan Niederer,1,Davosa,1,Daytona,5,De Bethune,21,de Grisogono,3,dead seconds,18,detent escapement,2,DeWitt,9,diving,5,diving watches,277,double regulator,2,Doxa,18,drei,1,dress watches,398,dual time,83,Ebel,1,Eberhard,30,Edox,3,El Primero,35,Emile Chouriet,1,Emmanuel Bouchet,1,enamel dial,9,enamelling,15,Equation of time,8,ETA,1,Eterna,18,exhibitions,1,F.P.Journe,33,Faberge,2,factory tours,3,Favre-Leuba,1,feature article,56,features,93,Ferdinand Berthoud,5,flyback,42,Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie,1,Fortis,7,Franc Vila Founder,1,Franck Muller,7,Frederique Constant,13,FVF,1,Gallet,1,Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix,8,Georg Jensen,1,George Daniels,3,Gerald Charles,2,Gerald Genta,9,Girard-Perregaux,41,Glashuette,16,Glashuette Original,55,Glashütte,30,Glashütte Original,86,Glycine,4,GMT,83,GoS,1,GoS Watches,1,GPHG,12,GPHG 2020,3,GPHG 2021,1,GPHG2019,1,Graham,6,Grand Feu,4,Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve,13,Grand Seiko,21,Grande Complication,24,Grande Sonnerie,7,Greubel Forsey,32,Gronefeld,7,Grönefeld,7,Grossmann,3,guilloché,4,H. Moser and Cie,36,H20 Watch,1,Habring,9,Habring2,10,Hajime Asaoka,2,Hallmark of Geneva,2,Hamilton,27,hands-on,74,Hanhart,3,Harry Winston,11,Hautlence,5,Hermes,23,Heuer,1,high jewellery,1,Hublot,27,Hybris Artistica,1,Hydro Mechanical Horologists,7,HYT Watches,13,Icon,1,In pictures,7,independent watchmaker,16,industry news,186,interview,5,Interviews,5,IWC,122,Jaeger-LeCoultre,104,Jaquet Droz,55,Jean-Francois Mojon,1,Jean-Marc Pontroué,1,JeanRichard,3,jumping hours,31,Junghans,9,Kaj Korpela,1,Kari Voutilainen,7,Kenissi,1,Korpela,1,Krayon,3,Kudoke,3,Kurono,1,L'Epee 1839,1,Ladies watches,144,Lang & Heyne,3,Lange,37,large date,2,Laurent Ferrier,21,Laureus,1,Le Garde Temps,1,Lederer Watches,2,Leica,1,Lemania,1,Leroy,3,Linde Werdelin,2,Longines,66,Louis Erard,7,Louis Moinet,5,luxury steel watch,12,LVMH,9,LVMH 2020,6,M.A.D.Edition,1,Maîtres du Temps,1,Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps,3,Manufacture Royale,3,Marc Lang,1,marine chronometer,1,Maurice de Mauriac,2,Maurice Lacroix,6,MB&F,44,MCT,1,MeisterSinger,57,meteorite,2,metiers d'art,1,Mido,21,military watches,13,Minerva,1,Ming,1,Minute Repeater,49,monopusher chronograph,2,Montblanc,51,moon phases,106,Moritz Grossmann,27,Moser,33,Muhle,4,Mühle-Glashütte,3,mystery watches,3,Nautilus,7,New Britain Corp,1,new watches,2687,Nomos,48,Norqain,19,Ochs und Junior,4,Officine Panerai,86,Omega,137,Only Watch,8,Only Watch 2015,4,Only Watch 2017,2,Only Watch 2019,3,Only Watch 2021,3,Oris,34,paillonne,1,Panerai,87,Parmigiani,8,Parmigiani Fleurier,25,Pascal Coyon,1,Patek,35,Patek Philippe,104,Pedrozo & Piriz,1,perpetual calendar,118,Perrelet,8,Petermann Bedat,2,Phenomen,1,Philippe Dufour,1,Phillips,7,Piaget,23,Pierre DeRoche,1,pilot watch,83,Pisa,3,Pisa Circle,3,Pita,1,planetarium,1,platinum,4,pocket watch,3,pocket watches,2,Poincon de Geneve,2,Porsche Design,16,Pre-SIHH 2016: Cartier - Clé de Cartier Automatic Skeleton,1,pulsometer,5,Purnell,1,quartz,4,Rado,13,Ralf Tech,2,Ralph Lauren,2,rattrapante,18,Raul Pages,1,Raymond Weil,1,rectangular watches,11,reddot award,1,regatta,1,regulator,18,remontoire,5,Remy Cools,1,Reservoir,1,resonance,13,Ressence,8,retrograde,7,Revelation,1,Reverso,21,review,73,RGM,1,RGM Watch Co.,1,Richard Mille,88,Richemont,4,Richmond,1,Roger Dubuis,11,Roger Smith,1,Roger W. Smith,1,Rolex,52,Romain Gauthier,9,Romain Jerome,1,Royal Oak,23,Rudis Sylva,1,sapphire,3,Seamaster,2,Seiko,29,SevenFriday,9,SIHH,3,SIHH 2012,4,SIHH 2013,25,SIHH 2014,36,SIHH 2015,43,SIHH 2016,44,SIHH 2017,40,SIHH 2018,43,SIHH 2019,53,Singer,4,Singer Reimagined,6,single hand,10,single-hand watches,13,Sinn,13,skeleton,22,smartwatch,7,solar energy,1,Sotheby's,5,Speake-Marin,4,Speedmaster,24,split seconds,14,sport watches,652,Spring Drive,2,squelette,44,steampunk,1,Steinhart,1,striking time,15,SuisseMecanica,1,sunrise,2,sunset,2,Swatch,3,Swatch Group,16,table clocks,4,Tag Heuer,122,technical insight,2,terra Cielo Mare,1,Tiffany,17,Tissot,5,titanium,3,top news,185,Torsti Laine,1,tourbillon,292,Trilobe,2,Tudor,25,Tulloch,1,Tutima,2,ultra thin,27,Ulysse Nardin,33,Unimatic,1,Union Glashutte,7,Urban Jurgensen,29,Urwerk,18,Vacheron Constantin,73,Van Cleef & Arpels,7,Vauchier Fleurier,1,Vianney Halter,4,video,1,vintage watches,2,Vulcain,9,wandering hours,1,Watches & Wonders,34,Watches & Wonders 2020,19,Watches & Wonders 2021,28,Watches & Wonders 2022,2,Watches&Wonders,2,Winnerl,1,worldtime,41,Zannetti,1,Zeitwinkel,1,Zenith,90,Zodiac,7,
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Time and Watches | The watch blog: Grande Complication wristwatches: three of the best
Grande Complication wristwatches: three of the best
Grande Complication wristwatches: three of the best. Blancpain 1735 Grande Complication. IWC Il Destriero Scafusia. Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Grande Complication Automatique. Grand Complication watches.
Time and Watches | The watch blog
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