Ah, complications. What are they and what do they do?
Well, in the watch world, complications are anything beyond the telling the time of day. This can include a second hand, since you really don’t need one. Some complications are great, almost needed, others just add to the expense of the watch. Here is what I think are Good, Bad, and Indifferent complications.
A seconds hand. So common now, it is almost not considered a complication.
Day of the month. Really useful, I use it almost every day.
Day of the week. Since getting a Seiko 5, it can be hard to live without this one. I use it often as well.
Luminous material or back lighting (quartz). Very handy in poor lighting. Both accomplish the same thing. You really get used to it. My nicest watch is also a daytime only watch, since it has no luminous materials. Still love it, still can’t read it in the dark.
Water resistance. We all get our watches wet. It just happens.
Shock resistance. We don’t live in a perfect world and our watches do suffer from shocks. In the days before shock resistance, it was pretty easy to damage a watch.
Automatic winding. Saves you the trouble of having to hand wind your watch. Some automatics are so efficient they don’t even include hand winding.
Screw Down Crown. A necessity on Diver’s watches, a little silly on daily wearers
Helium Release valves. A show of hands here, anyone here do saturation diving? How many people know what saturation diving is without looking it up? Well, it is diving at depths greater than 100 feet and use a helium/oxygen mix AND requires decompression. If you need it, great, otherwise, it is just another crown to dig into your arm.
Elaborate crown guards. There seems to be a cottage industry now of huge, almost baroque crown guards. On an normal watch, it adds a little extra protection in case of a scrape against a wall. Some of the fancier crown guards I am sure would fail AFTER you snapped your hand from your wrist. At this point, whether your watch was running or not is moot.
Tourbillons. You see them on expensive ‘timepieces’. What is it supposed to do? Negate the effects of gravity on the accuracy of mechanical watches. The problem is, tourbillons were only mildly effective on pocket watches and are pointless on wristwatches. Why? Because, unless you are dead or disabled, the orientation of your wristwatch changes all day long. Even in pocket watches , the effect was so minor to the point of being undetectable. It is a way to add a lot of money to the cost of a watch. Just get an open heart watch to see the balance wheel from the front.
Sapphire crystals. They are very scratch resistant and have less glare, but in most cases mineral glass or acrylic is just fine. In some cases, especially where shock in involved, they are even preferred.
Chronograph functions. If you like or need to time things, great, otherwise it just clutters up the face of your watch.
Radio timing. This allows your watch to sync up with atomic time. Great if you are anal retentive and live somewhere with good reception. Are you that strapped for time you need to know what time it is to the nearest 0.00001 second?
Rotating Bezels. Personally, I really like and use mine. They can be used to track time, golf scores, even tell what direction you are facing. I have seen them some done really well and some really badly. Personal taste on this one.
Display backs. I like them, but they are really pointless, unless you want to show someone the movement of your watch or are bored in a meeting.
1000m+ water resistance. There is not a human on Earth who has free dived to 1000M. Just a selling point. Doesn’t hurt the watch, so it is indifferent instead of bad.
That’s it for now. Feel free to add your own.