Invented by the visionary Swiss-French watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, Tourbillon is the most amazing and visually engaging horological complication. Patented in 1801, it was originally created to cancel out the effects of gravity for ensuring precision of portable mechanical timepieces such as carriage clocks and pocket watches.
Breguet commenced the commercial production of tourbillon watches in 1805. According to historians, only 35 examples were commercialized by the great watchmaking genius.
Tourbillon (pronounced as tür-bē-yōⁿ) is a French word for whirlwind. In this mechanism, the escapement and balance wheel are mounted in a revolving cage. Due to the complexity involved to manufacture this micro-mechanical device, only a small number of brands offer tourbillon watches in their regular collections. Notable evolutions of this amazing horological mechanism are single, double and triple axis tourbillons, flying tourbillon and Gyrotourbillon. Some high-end watchmaking houses offer timepieces featuring two, three or four tourbillons.
The first tourbillon wristwatch was created by Omega in 1947. In 1984, master watchmaker Franck Muller crafted the first wrist-worn timepiece with a visible tourbillon complication at the dial side. Audemars Piguet developed the first self-winding tourbillon wristwatch in 1986.
Classic Tourbillon Watches
Classic Tourbillon timepieces house the purest form of tourbillon complication as envisaged by its inventor. They usually come with hand-wound movements.
Reference 3357 from the Breguet Classic Complications series is a classic manual-winding tourbillon watch. Available in rose, yellow or white gold, this breguet watch features a subsidiary dial for hour and minutes display and a single tourbillon cage at 6’oclock with running seconds indicator. One of the smallest tourbillon wristwatches presently available the market, the 35mm diameter model houses the Caliber 558T with a power reserve of 55 hours. The breguet singapore price of this timepiece is more than S$150,000.
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Tourbillon is also a great choice in the classic manual-wound category. Made in Germany, this haute horlogerie masterpiece comes in 18K gold and platinum versions. In addition to the magnificent tourbillon complication positioned at 6 o’clock, this timepiece combines two innovations: stop-seconds function for the tourbillon and the ZERO-RESET time-setting mechanism. It comes in a 39.5mm diameter case.
The Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon 8 Jours is a classic variant with longer power reserve. Equipped with a manual-winding movement, this 37.5mm blancpain watch offers an incredible autonomy of 192 hours (8 days).
Self-winding Tourbillon Watches
These modern tourbillon timepieces are equipped with automatic winding mechanisms. You can discover an impressive line-up of self-winding wristwatches from popular luxury watch collections like AP Royal Oak, Code 11.59 by Audermars Piguet, Breguet Classique Complications, Frederique Constant Highlife, H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer, JLC Master and Vacheron Constantin Traditionalle.
Flying tourbillon was designed by German watchmaking instructor Alfred Helwig in 1920. The classic tourbillon mechanism is fixed on both sides where as the flying tourbillon complication is fitted on a single anchor. Due to the cantilevered design, it appears to be flying within its cage.
Presently, several luxury brands offer flying tourbillon watches. The leading manufacturers in this segment are Angelus, Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Cartier, Chopard, Girard-Perregaux, Glashütte Original, JLC, Louis Vuitton and Roger Dubuis.
Glashütte Original Senator Tourbillon with Panorama Date combines the mesmerizing flying tourbillon complication with a highly noticeable panorama date display. This glashutte original senator watch features a 42mm diameter case. The dial hosts centre hour and minute hands, large date window at 12 o’clock and the flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock. It houses a self-winding movement (caliber 94-03) with a power reserve of 48 hours.
It comes with signature adornments like Glashütte three-quarter plate with stripe finish, Perlage decoration on balance mirror, skeletonized rotor with double-G symbol and 21-carat gold oscillation weight, diamond capstone at flying tourbillon, bevelled edges, polished steel parts and blued screws. Paying tribute to Alfred Helwig, the inventor of flying tourbillon, this glashutte original watch is available in 18-carat white or rose gold.
The glashutte original singapore price of this timepiece is more than S$146,000.
These timepieces feature extremely thin construction. Notable examples are Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, Piaget Altiplano Tourbillon, Arnold & Son UTTE, Breguet 5367 and JLC Master Ultrathin Tourbillon.
Introduced in 2018, the bulgari octo finissimo tourbillon is the thinnest self-winding flying tourbillon watch in the world. Made of titanium, the case measures 42mm diameter and 3.95mm thickness. Inside the octo finissimo tourbillon watch beats Caliber BVL 288, an extremely thin automatic skeleton movement measuring just 1.95mm thickness. It is equipped with a peripheral rotor and provides a power reserve of 52 hours.
Octo Finissimo is a series of mechanical bulgari watches renowned for their extremely thin design. Fitted on a titanium bracelet, this light-weight and ultrathin wristwatch spotlights a sand-blasted finish. It has two central axis hands for displaying the hour and minute. The flying tourbillon is visible at 6 o’clock.
Featuring 11.3mm thickness, the JLC Master Ultrathin Tourbillon watch is available in 18K Gold, with or without diamond-setting. Powered by a self-winding movement, it comes in a minimalistic time-only configuration or with additional complications like moonphase. The jaeger lecoultre singapore price of this model is above S$119,000.
As the name suggests, these wristwatches incorporate two or more complications. Arnold & Son Double Tourbillon, Breguet Classique Grande Complication 5347, Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Double Tourbillon, Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30° Technique, Roger Dubuis Excalibur Superbia, TAG Heuer MikrotourbillonS and Zenith DEFY Double Tourbillon are some noteworthy examples of double tourbillon watches.
An example for Triple Tourbillon is The Tourbillon of Tourbillons watch created by Independent Swiss watchmaker Antoine Preziuso. This extremely complex mechanical manual-wound timepiece incorporates three tourbillons. A watch with four tourbillons is known as quadruple tourbillon. An example is Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon.
The tourbillon mechanism invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet featured a single axis. Majority of classic tourbillon watches are based on this concept. Gradually, watchmakers have developed various types of mechanisms like multi-axis tourbillons.
Revolving on two axes, the double axis tourbillon was developed by English watchmaker Anthony Randall in 1977. This mechanism was initially used with carriage clocks. In 2003, the first double axis tourbillon watch was introduced by Thomas Prescher.
Presently, various haute-horlogerie Maisons produced double axis tourbillon watches. Most notable examples are Thomas Prescher Mysterious Automatic Double Axis Tourbillon Watch and Jacob & Co. Astronomia Casino.
The notable examples for Triple Axis Tourbillon watches are Jacob & Co. Astronomia Flawless Triple Axis Tourbillon, MB&F LM Thunderdome Triple-Axis Tourbillon, Thomas Prescher Triple Axis Tourbillon Regulator, Cabestan Triple Axis Tourbillon and Franck Muller Revolution 3.
Gyrotourbillon is a special kind of tourbillon mechanism that rotates on two difference axes. It means that both the inner cage and outer cage of the tourbillon revolve for an enhanced protection against the effects of gravity. Jaeger-LeCoultre is a manufacturer of gyrotourbillon watches.
In 2004, the esteemed Swiss watch Maison introduced a double axis spherical tourbillon mechanism known as Gyrotourbillon I. In 2008, the jaeger lecoultre Gyrotourbillon II was launched. Presently, the Manufacture is offering a number of high-complication wristwatches equipped with this intrinsic mechanism. The latest additions to this jaeger lecoultre watch series are the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon, the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 and the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel.