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What is a Tourbillon?


Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Orbital. Photo: Masterhorologer

A tourbillon refers to a mechanical complexity that can be present in the movements of some valuable manual timepieces. It was created in the age of the pocket watch and is undeniably captivating to view. Relative to pieces without them, tourbillons are often more costly. While they aren’t the most typical watch complexity, they are undoubtedly among the most amusing.

A tourbillon is thus, used to solve a problem that most mechanical timepieces face in relation to how physics impacts the accuracy and precision of their movements. When watches are in particular locations, gravity exerts a drag on their movement.

Different Types of Tourbillons

Since they were first developed, tourbillons have undergone significant development. The way certain high-end watchmakers use a tourbillon is incredibly inventive. Some of the brand-new tourbillons include;

  • Multi-axis tourbillon

A recent improvement on the standard tourbillon is the multi-axis tourbillon, which rotates the escapement’s enclosure along many axes. It comprises a double axis and a triple axis. A triple-axis tourbillon refers to a tourbillon that revolves on 3 distinct axes (sometimes called a tri-axial tourbillon). With a double-axis tourbillon, just 2 axes are in rotation.

  • Double and quadruple tourbillon

A double or quadruple tourbillon refers to a watch with several tourbillon complexities, like the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon ” Différentiel Sphérique”. Adding more than one to a timepiece is sort of a recent trend.

  • Flying Tourbillon

The mounting of a flying tourbillon differs from that of a regular tourbillon. Many are attached with a supporting mechanism on both edges, like bridging or cock. The flying tourbillon differs from other clocks because it is sustained by just a single side.

  • Gyrotourbillon

Magali Metrailler and Eric Coudray, two talented watch designers, created the very first gyrotourbillon in 2002. It rotates around several axes, thus the title. Only a few were produced, and Jaeger-LeCoultre released a few versions with extremely limited manufacturing levels.




How Does a Tourbillon Function?

The escapement and controlling mechanism were originally located within a movable carriage that revolved at a somewhat constant speed along its axis. Newer versions would build on this fundamental idea as well. A double-axis tourbillon, for example, rotates along two axes rather than one, each of which spins once every minute. A uniform force is applied to the oscillatory system by a “remontoir,” a consistent force device that powers both axes.

Why are Tourbillon Timepieces Costly?

Even though its precision has been questioned, the tourbillon timepieces are still regarded as the pinnacle of high-end watchmaking. It’s because, despite its purported purposes, the machine is a wonder to admire and a true work of art. Therefore, it should not come as a shock that the majority of tourbillon pieces have skeletonized dial surfaces, allowing the system to be seen clearly. Moreover, the tourbillon frequently serves as a second hand as it revolves once every minute on average.

Until recently, tourbillon timepieces were highly expensive due to their rarity. The system-turned-innovation has, nevertheless, gained greater popularity recently, which has increased availability and lowered costs.


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