Watch Complications Explained

Not to be confused for the noun that means a problem or difficulty; we are speaking about watch complications, as in any other feature a watch may have besides telling time. Different types of wristwatches have different types of complications for several reasons ranging from there manufacturer style, to their purpose. As a result of this, there are too many wristwatch complications to discuss; however, there are some popular wristwatch complications that can be commonly found in a wide variety of wristwatches and these are the complications that we would be looking at today.


Common Wristwatch Complications

Date Function

This is one of the most common complications found in any wristwatch today. Almost every wristwatch you see today is sporting a date window, and it is not only easy to use, but it is also very useful as it shows you the current date.


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Day Function

The day function is also like the date function in the sense that it is usually displayed in a window on the wristwatch and it shows you whatever day of the week it is. Usually, you find that a day function on a wristwatch is often paired with a date function.

Triple Calendar Function

This is a function on a wristwatch that shows the current month and year together with the date and day. Same as the day and date function; it is usually displayed in its own window on the wristwatch. This triple calendar function is usually seen in 2 forms, the annual calendar, and the perpetual calendar.

The annual calendar is one which combines the function of the date, day, and month and adds it to the year; however, this function has to be reset every leap year.


The perpetual calendar, however, is the same as the annual calendar only that this calendar takes into consideration leap years and so does not need a reset on leap years.

Alarm Function

Apart from the calendar function of a wristwatch, the alarm function is perhaps the next most common complication on a timepiece. We all know what an alarm does on a clock; this is no different on a wristwatch. It simply sends out a chime to remind you of a specified time that was set by you.

Chronograph Complications

For those who do not know what it is, a chronograph is basically a stopwatch and/or timer function. The initial purpose of these functions on wristwatches was for timing races; however, today, we find that there are several additional uses for this particular watch function, including guiding pilots and multiple time span measurements.

Travel Function

These are mainly known as time zone complications, and they are basically meant for travelers. This function gives the wristwatch the ability to carry out its time, telling function accurately in different time zones. This complication is divided into different categories based on how they operate.


Dual Time Function

This function operates on two different time zones using the same movements within the watch.

Dual Movement Function

This function operates on two different time zones using two different movements. This may seem difficult, but, both movements are completely independent of each other.

World Time Zone Function 

This function is the most complicated travel function. It involves telling the time in every time zone in the world.

Minute Repeater Function

This function is like that on your hourly alarm clock. Basically, this function is set up so that when the minute hand hits a lever at a certain spot, it chimes out the time. Although this function is almost non-existent, it can still be found on some vintage watches.

Moon Phase Function

This function is mostly just aesthetically pleasing; however, it does serve its purpose to seamen and astrologers. This function just as the name implies tells the different phases of the moon accurately. This is very helpful when sailing as it also helps to guide sailors on the tides.

Power Reserve Function

This is a function that is peculiar to wristwatches that need to be wound. It simply shows you how much power your wristwatch has left before it needs to be wound again. It is typically indicated in hours; however, some wristwatch functions can indicate up to 10 days in advance.

Tourbillon Function

This function is actually one of those that influence how costly a wristwatch is because it is a rather time-consuming and elaborate function that is fitted to a wristwatch. It is also quite expensive to make. This function basically serves to makes sure that the balance wheel of a watch remains on its own axis. This function was first created for use in pocket watches in order to counter the effects that gravity has on these watches. The reason for this is because pocket watches are usually kept in a vertical position and so can be affected by the effects of gravity. So basically, this function serves to make sure that a watch is actually accurate by canceling out any errors in timekeeping.

While these are the common and popular watch complications that can easily be found, they are not always found on every wristwatch. As a matter of fact, some of them are quite extinct in the making of wristwatches today and can only be found in vintage wristwatches and pocket watches. A wristwatch complication is a feature that can very well add a sense of class, quality, and aesthetic value to your wristwatches.

Let us know if you learned anything in the comments!


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