Why Surgeons Do Not Like Complications

by Dr Kenny Pang

We do not like the word “complications” in medicine, however, horological complications are welcome.

Surgeons are often type-A personalities. In part, attributable to our need for perfection and attention to fine anatomical detail.

There are a few basic principles that lie close to a surgeon’s mind and heart, they are:

(a) primum non nocere, which is a Latin phase for “first, to do no harm”, it reminds doctors to consider the possible harm of any medical intervention;

(b) the surgeon should feel that he/she is the best in that specific specialized field (rightfully so), if not, he/she should send the patient to his/her friend who might be better at the job;

(c) maturity is defined by, not knowing what one can do, but knowing what one should not; and

(d) as surgeons, we dislike complications.

Medical complications are the bane of a surgeon’s life.

We are meticulous at surgery and are careful with our surgical steps and procedures. We do not like the word “complications” in medicine, however, horological complications are welcome.

With the attention to detail, need for perfection and the relentless pursuit for precision, it should not surprise that medical doctors are intrinsically intrigued with the complications and innovations in the horological world. Just a simple timepiece that tells the time would suffice, or a simple Date-Just would be pleasing. Having said that, a perpetual calendar would be excellent.

One cannot dispute the similarities between the medical and horological fields: both fraternities would like to keep things simple, precise and fuss-free, and yet welcome innovations and modern technologies.

It is imperative that the surgeon removes the correct tumour on the correct side of the body, and it is mandatory that the gears and wheels are placed precisely on the correct side and on the exact correct plane (as in the correct level) for articulation with the correct wheel.

The mainspring of the timepiece is akin to the heart that beats and gives it life and energy, while the escapement is like the heart valves that prevents the back flow of blood (retrograde flow) and excessive blood from leaving the heart.

The gears transmit the energy and movement through different sized wheels like the arteries, capillaries and veins, to ensure precision and perfect delivery of oxygen and nutrients (energy for each movement and complication in the timepiece).

Having made the case for complications, simplicity will always have its place too. In fact, it would take a strong, self-assured and confident man to wear a simple, understated and yet distinguished watch. Here are some simple timepieces across different styles to consider having in your collection.

Rolex Cellini

Breguet Classique 5177 Grand Feu Blue Enamel

Cartier New Santos Dumont

Hermes Arceau 78

IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Top Gun

Panerai submersible 42mm


Images courtesy of respective brands, artwork by Curatedition.


Related link:

Why Classic Mechanical Watches Will Always Have Prime Time

Are Watches Viable as an Alternative Form of Investment?

Cartier: The New Santos-Dumont

IWC: New Pilot’s Watches Take Flight at SIHH 2019


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