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Video Unraveling The Story Of The Vacheron Constantin Berkley Grand Complication, The Most Complicated Watch In The World

Creating the most complicated watch in the world is a massive achievement and a story as old as watchmaking, but more than a technical achievement, it's an emotional moment as well.


About a month before Watches & Wonders, a Vacheron Constantin team member told me something big would come from the Maison just ahead of the trade show. They also told me they thought I would be uniquely suited to cover the news, which to me meant only one thing: there was a pocket watch coming from Vacheron. For all the jokes from friends and colleagues, my passion for horology started with pocket watches, and I will forever be curious when a modern brand taps into that old style of watchmaking to do something interesting. But when I found out what Vacheron had in store, it wasn't just interesting, it was also historic. As it turns out, the watch was called the Berkley Grand Complication, the most complicated watch in the world, and I knew that had to see it for myself.

Grand Berkley Complication

Few companies still make pocket watches, with the other notable exception being Patek Philippe. They are inherently anachronistic and unwieldy objects, nearly impossible to wear under normal circumstances, let alone when they weigh over two pounds and measure approximately 3.5 in. across by 2 in. wide, with 63 complications, 245 jewels, and 2,877 components. I tried to tackle a lot of the watch's complications, including the first-ever Chinese traditional perpetual calendar, in my (quite long) introductory article. It's possible that no other brand on the planet at the moment would be willing to take on the monumental task of making a single bespoke watch that would be the most complicated in the world. 

It's a concept that dates back centuries, with stories like that of Swedish count Axel von Fersen the Younger, who is believed to have commissioned a pocket watch for Marie Antoinette in 1783, or – more famously – the Henry Graves Supercomplication made by Patek Philippe in 1933. These watches are eponymous and the new watch from Vacheron is no different, taking its name from William R. Berkley, who not only commissioned this new watch, but the last most complicated watch, the Vacheron ref. 57260.

Mark taking a picture of the Grand Berkley Complication

Getting to see the watch in person (not from behind glass but up close and personal) promised to be a likely once-in-a-lifetime experience, so the day before Watches & Wonders, I went to Vacheron Constantin's headquarters outside of Geneva for a special presentation. I also sat down with Christian Selmoni, Style & Heritage Director at Vacheron Constantin. Part of me was going to the meeting to satisfy my fascination with pocket watches and unpack this incredible (and massive) horological feat and just to see it to be able to say I had. I also had other questions. 

Tourbillon on the back of the pocket watch

Some questions were practical, like the implications of what Vacheron learned through the project and how it could be applied to future commercial releases. But after years of thinking about, reading about, and even dreaming about watches like this, how would the watch make me feel? Can someone even begin to comprehend a watch with horological achievements that won't unfold for centuries? Come along with me as I try to unravel these questions, and others, behind the Berkley Grand Complication.