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On the dial of the Mondia Top Second there is a flashing red dot, instead of small seconds hand, whose usefulness can be questioned. However, despite its apparent lack of usefulness, this red dot is more important than you might think ...
«Plicate» means to fold, as in duplicating or complicating. Something unfolded is simpler than folded. When we join folds we are complicating. Why would you complicate something? What do we need complicated clocks for? To complicate a simple mechanism only makes sense if you get a useful function from it. But some times we complicate a mechanism without adding anything useful to it, creating this way a Pointless Complication.The most beautiful complications are the useless ones!
One of the most useless complications I have seen to this day is the one on the Mondia Top Second. This watch has an honest AS1913 movement, with a frequency of 21,600 alt / h. The Top Second models are all very carefully finished, they are watches with a true 70's style, a great decade for watch design. And would be normal 70s watches if they didn't have a completely Pointless Complication: a flashing red dot instead of small seconds. In fact, on the dial there is a small circular window, behind that window, a fan is found with two blades rotatIng once every two seconds, allowing each of them to appear at the window every second. This creates the illusion that there is a flashing light on the display. Indicating seconds by means of a hand allows us to know how many seconds have passed, indicating them through of a flashing point allows us only to know that the clock is not stopped. What makes this complication completely useless is the second hand that the watch already has ... Why would anyone bother to create a change in a movement to add a ‘flasher’? The reason for this invention is not yet well known. What we do know is that it is a fantastic idea, incredibly well executed. By the time this movement was created, quartz watches were preferred over mechanical watches. A flashing point that resembled a light showed that mechanical watches could also keep up with the innovation created by digital watches. But the best of all is the fact that, indeed, this complication apparently does not serve any kind of pratical purpouse.
The Mondia Top Second ends up being a watch with some relevance because it can be seen as representative of a period after which mechanical watches were released from the burden of utility. Thus, we can finally appreciate mastery, appreciate watches as fantastic machines, as works of art, with the admirable uselessness inherent in any work of art. It is quartz watches, but also mobile phones and smartwatches that we have to thank for taking on the burden of utility, leaving the way for mechanical watches to become works of art. Today's independent watchmakers and some brands know how to make the most of this offer. It’s fantastic to have the freedom to create a watch with a Joker face and Dracula teeth that only appear at midnight, like the Joker Dracula by Konstatin Chaykin, or to create a watch in which the minute hand is actually all the movement like the Ulysse Nardin Freak. Utility and the lack of it is a great way to separate craft from art. Nobody wants a complication due to its usefulness, we all vibrate with pointless complications.
This article was initially published in the online version of Espiral do Tempo on 2019, Dec19.