The tourbillion looks enticing, is complicated to assemble, and is steeped in history. 2015 happens to be the 214th anniversary of the invention of the tourbillion, originally designed to improve the accuracy of pocket watches by the famous watchmaker, Abraham-Louis Breguet. A beautiful thing to watch visually, it is a variation on an escapement mechanism whereby the entire escapement assembly (often referred to as the heartbeat of a watch) rotates constantly on its own axis. Hiren Kumar Bose brings you the five tourbillons we would like to see on our wrist, whatever the price.
BREGUET Tradition Repetition Minutes Tourbillon 7087
Uniqueness: Sound emission even at frequencies below 4,000Hz.
Architecture &Design: Unlike many minute-repeaters in which the travel of the hammers is parallel to the movement of the watch, this watch has hammers that strike vertically from the movement towards the bezel transforming the mechanical vibrations into sound waves. The hammers entailed a supplementary innovation that has been patented: a semi-active buffer that maximises the hammer’s energy while eliminating the risk of a double strike caused by the vibration. To achieve this, the Manufacture devised an articulated damper that is synchronised with the strike of the hammer, which is immediately pulled back by a spring. A radiating bezel screwed to the caseband with three pillars allows the bezel and glass to vibrate freely. This innovation results in improved sound emission, particularly at low frequencies. While the exterior parts of the watch generally transmit mostly the higher frequencies, the radiating bezel offers a wider range with several frequencies below 4,000Hz.
BLANCPAIN L-evolution Tourbillon Carrousel
Uniqueness: Tourbillon and Carrousel
Architecture & Design: Thanks to its abstract and futuristic look this watch is likely to receive envious looks. The tourbillion and carousel in L-evolution Tourbillon Carrousel are meant to counteract the effects of gravity and are powered by different gears and have designated barrels. The tourbillon rotates around the fixed seconds wheel to keep the escapement in constant motion while the carrousel powers its rotation with a gear train. The case and dial have many hard angles, with abstract numbers that differ greatly from the classic, traditional designs that are typical and expected from Blancpain. At 11 o’clock, one can see the tourbillon and the carrousel is placed at 5 o’clock. This platinum-cased watch and its calibre 2322V2 movement has over 350 parts and is on display through the transparent case back.
Jaeger LeCoultre Duomètre Sphérotourbillon
Uniqueness: Spherotourbillon rotating on two axes
Architecture & Design: A complication, the Spherotourbillon– located at an opening in the dial at 9 o’clock– is a tourbillon built to counteract the effects of gravity by rotating on two axes. The tourbillon sits in a titanium cage that rotates at a 20 degree angle. The dial opens at this space and silver steps lead to the spherotourbillon. The main subdial is at 3 o’clock, with a lapis lazuli moonphase in its centre, which is accurate to 3,887 years. There is a 24-hour indicator at 12 o’clock and a running seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and each counter with its own power reserve. To reset the running seconds without disrupting the balance wheel, one just presses on the pusher at 2 o’clock. This watch is limited to just 75 pieces.
GIRARD-PERREGAUX Neo-Tourbillon with Three Bridges
Uniqueness: With 80 parts and 0.25g titanium tourbillon carriage it almost defies gravity
Architecture & Design: The Neo-Tourbillon with Three Bridges, a contemporary interpretation of the Esmeralda created by Girard-Perregaux in the 19th century, offers a perfect alliance between history, tradition and innovation. The iconic three bridges are made of sandblasted, black PVD-treated titanium. Accentuating these depth effects, the mainplate is also sandblasted and black PVD-treated to focus perspective lines and light towards the centre forming a succession of light grey circles. As if to defy gravity, the generous titanium tourbillon carriage weights only 0.25g, despite its 80 parts. Its fascinating dance is magnified by a remarkably domed “box-type” sapphire crystal enabling the DLC-treated titanium case to do without a bezel.
TAG HEUER Monaco V4 Tourbillon
Uniqueness: 0.7 mm thick micro belts, thinner than a single human hair drives the tourbillon cage
Architecture & Design: The Manufacture takes its avant-garde creation to the next level—juxtaposing its patented belt technology with one of the most emblematic complication of watchmaking—the tourbillon. In the process breaking all accepted watchmaking codes and conventions. The watch uses a system of micro-belts— just 0.7 mm thick, thinner than a single human hair—to drive the tourbillon cage rather than traditional gears resulting in a more fluid rotation of its cage. The V4 name is derived from the V-shaped main plate on which the movement’s four barrels are mounted: the 2-by-2 belt series on ball bearings are angled at +/-13 degrees, and look like the cylinders in a Formula 1 motor-racing engine. It is also equipped with an automatic, linear “railroad” rewinding system, as opposed to a more traditional swinging rotor.