Don't let the name fool you — watch complications are not complicated. They're actually pretty common and (generally) easy to understand.

So what are watch complications? And what are some examples of common watch complications?

You're in the right place to find out more about these watch parts.

Let's unravel what defines a watch complication and then get into a few examples of complications you might already be familiar with!

What are Watch Complications?

The term 'watch complication' refers to anything on a watch that is an added feature. If you don't need the feature to tell the time (the core function of a watch) or wear your timepiece, then that feature is a complication. Complications come in a wide range of types, from the super simple to the extraordinarily complex.

Let's put a watch complication list under the magnifying glass to give you an idea of what to expect when dealing with one.

5 Types of Watch Complications

Here are five of the most common types of watch complications out there today.

Keep in mind that these are talked about from the perspective of analog watches. But digital watches (like the Regulus Expedition) can be complicated too!

Chronograph and date display watch complications on Sentry Chrono

Date Display

A date window or other type of date display is probably the most common type of watch complication you'll come across. And it does exactly what the name says!

Date displays are watch dial complications. They can be a simple date window, featuring the numerical date, or the slightly more complex day-date window, which features the day of the week in addition to the date.

Some of the most complex date displays include the triple or perpetual calendar. You can find a simple date window on our Sentry Chrono, and the day-date window on the Sentry Leather.


Another common type of watch complication is the chronograph. Chronographs are essentially stopwatches that track time over a determined period. On analog watches, the chronograph is stopped and started with a pusher that can be on either side of the watch.

These types of Chronograph watches will also usually include additional small dials that are set right into the dial of the watch and that are used to track units of time.

The Nixon 51-30 is an excellent example of a watch with a chronograph around the watch bezel.

Learn more about chronograph watches and how to use them.

Chronograph vs. Chronometer

These terms seem similar, but they're quite different. A chronograph is a stopwatch that tracks time, and a chronometer is just a watch that has received a certification for its precision.

Close up of the Nixon 51-30 Chronograph watch complication

Dual Time Zones

Dual time zone complications allow a person to track time across two separate time zones. The larger main dial is used to track the current time zone (or the time zone at home while traveling). And secondary dials on the watch dial are used to track a secondary time zone.

Moon Phase Complication

One of the coolest types of watch complications, one that withstands the tides of time, is the moon phase complication. This feature was originally used by sailors to track tides, but today it makes for a beautiful watch aesthetic.

A watch that features the phases of the moon will tell the wearer if it's currently a new, full, half or quarter moon.

Alarm Function

It may seem simple, but a quartz or mechanical watch that comes with an alarm is actually considered a complicated watch.

This isn't a comprehensive list of all the complications you might find, but these are some of the most common. Other types of complications include the perpetual calendar complication, the power reserve indicator and more.

For watch enthusiasts, watches with unique complications are an excellent addition to any collection.