A mechanical watch is more than a refined style statement. It can also be a functional object with useful everyday complications that go well beyond measuring time – such as the mechanical alarm. In the past decade the alarm function may have been neglected, but we are starting to see a change in status for this niche market but extremely useful complication. Chanel, Dior and luxury watch maisons who are always full of surprises Earlier this year, Patek Philippe released the Calatrava Alarm Travel Time 5520P with a sunburst black dial. This embodiment of a useful travel watch offers two time zones and an alarm connected with the local time. Equipped with four crowns, the 4 o’clock is the important one here – it tensions a separate spring barrel, which gives power to an alarm that is up to 40 seconds long. The sound is achieved by a hammer hitting the case band 2.5 times per second. The alarm functions in the upper half of the dial are user-friendly – the alarm time is clear, thanks to the digital display aperture under 12 o’clock, and directly underneath this you can see if it is set for am or pm via the round day/night indicator. The 4 o’clock crown is also the one used to set the alarm. The pusher at 2? This turns the alarm on or off, with said state displayed in the bell-shaped aperture. After 20 years on the market, watch connoisseurs know that when Richard Mille does something, the brand does it in a hitherto unseen style. This is once again the case with the RM 62-01 Tourbillon Vibrating Alarm Airbus Corporate Jets – the September 2019 release, which is the brand’s most complicated watch. Alongside a hand-wound tourbillon movement, second time zone, 70-hour power reserve indicator and oversized date housed in an ultralight and super-resilient titanium reinforced Carbon TPT case, it features a world first: a silent, intensely vibrating mechanical alarm. “The RM 62-01 is designed for the discretion prevailing in the hushed atmospheres of luxury,” said Richard Mille. Richard Mille’s Beijing boutique puts the art of luxury watchmaking on show Instead of the normal solution of a hammer hitting a pillar, a gong or the case, the alarm of the 62-01 “sounds” when an oscillating gold mass spins at precisely 5,400rpm. Having an intense vibration occur inside a watch movement is like inviting a hornet’s nest to a yoga class – it could disrupt precision as well as cause severe damage. But the choice of materials, frequency and an included pathway near the weight ensure transfer of the vibrations straight to the wrist so no microseismic events interfere with the movement. The silent alarm is set with minute precision on a 24-hour auxiliary dial. The alarm has a separate power supply indicated at 7 o’clock, and by pushing the button at 8 o’clock 12 times, you fill it up, giving you an alarm of 12 seconds. The operations of the RM 62-01 are activated via the function selector – to call it a crown would not do it justice – at 3, which has five positions. To change positions you click it, and the neighbouring aperture displays whether the watch is in UTC (U), alarm (A), winding (W), time setting (T) or neutral (N) mode. Taking on a more conservative silhouette is Tudor’s Heritage Advisor. A revival of the brand’s 1957 alarm watch, the mechanical alarm clock movement strikes a clear note when the timer sounds. The case in steel is paired with a variety of dial and strap variations, adding to the versatility of the design. In 2018, Jaeger-LeCoultre released the Master Memovox Tribute To Polaris 1968 inspired by the 50th anniversary of this sporty watch. The watch from the year before the first jumbo jet, however, was not the first alarm watch produced by the maison in Vallée de Joux. The first Memovox came in 1950 and was followed by the world’s first automatic alarm watch (1956) and the world’s first diving watch with an alarm (1959). Why the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date is a dashing diver’s watch But what about the roots of alarm watches? In the post-World War II era, several brands were experimenting with bringing the rather bulky complication over from pocket watches, where it has existed since the 17th century. The first success was the Vulcain Cricket from 1947. The Cricket is famous for having been worn by several US presidents, including Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman. Vulcain still delivers the Cricket in many versions based on a movement similar to the 1947 version. “But we are working on something completely new,” says CEO Aldo Magada. “We will raise the frequency of the movement from 2.5 hertz to 4 hertz, and we are adding some features. But it will still be a manually wound movement, as we love that interaction with the watch.” If all goes well in the test phase, Vulcain will present the new movement at Baselworld 2020, and the plan is to start industrial production towards the end of 2020. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .