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If you re looking for a skeleton style watch with a true tourbillon movement, this is the real deal, not to be confused with a much less expensive and much less complicated open heart movement masquerading as a tourbillon.
This is a true Flying carrousel-tourbillon built for Jiusko by Hangzhou, one of China s most experienced movement manufacturers since 1972 .
The watch has a sapphire crystal, solid stainless case, clear display back and it looks classy on the wrist, with very well balanced skeleton detailing showcasing the details of the movement.
5mm, it s big enough to look modern without being garish, and it rises low enough to the wrist to work well with dress shirt cuffs.
Comfortable and great eye candy.
Plus I own 3 Jiusko watches, and I trust the build quality which, especially when it comes to more complex movements like tourbillons, is hugely.
How to identify 3 types of tourbillons.
Today we get to tell you all about tourbillon complication and answer all the most common questions about tourbillons.
A tourbillon is a mechanism found in certain high-end mechanical watches.
It is both hypnotic and fascinating to watch and watches with tourbillons are usually a bit expensive compared to watches without them.
They are not the most common complication that you ll find on a watch, but certainly one of the most entertaining.
What Does a Tourbillon Look Like.
Sometimes an unsavvy watch dealer might mistake a watch with a semi-skeletonized dial showing a visible balance wheel known as an Open Heart for a tourbillon.
Be sure to read further to learn how to quickly identify a genuine tourbillon watch when you see one and avoid running into a disastrous nightmare.
Why Do Some Watches Have Tourbillons.
The purpose of a tourbillon is to address an issue that many mechanical watches have with regards to the way physics affects precision and accuracy.
Gravity is a force that creates a drag on watch s movement when they are in certain positions.
How Does a Tourbillon Watch Work.
One of the most challenging things watchmakers face when regulating a watch is the effects that gravity plays in the caliber or movement.
A tourbillon acts as the way to counter the drag effect that gravity plays on some of the smaller components in a watch s escapement when held in certain positions.
A tourbillon places certain parts of the watches internal mechanics, the balance wheel and escapement into a rotating cage.
The escapement is a component of the movement which is comprised of the hairspring, balance wheel, and pallet fork.
The tourbillon watch will then slowly rotate this cage holding the escapement, usually at a rate of 1 RPM, and this mechanism counteracts the adverse effects that gravity creates when the watch is in certain positions and helps to iron out positional errors in accuracy.
The video below demonstrates how the escapement is mounted onto the tourbillon s cage and also depicts how it steadily rotates the escapement around the cage.
Who Invented the Tourbillon.
It was 1795 when Abraham-Louis Breguet developed the mechanical mechanism AKA complication that we call the tourbillon.
Breguet was also famous for inventing other revolutionary devices in watchmaking such as the rotor that we find in self-winding, automatic watches.
It s no surprise that many Breguet watches often have tourbillons.
The word tourbillon is a French term which means whirlwind.
If you take one close look at a tourbillon watch in action, then the name makes perfect sense.
It has a mesmerizing spiral motion that can be quite hypnotic.
What is the World s Thinnest Tourbillon.
BVLGARI released the world s thinnest tourbillon in the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon which uses the ultra-thin Bulgari in-house manufactured Caliber BVL 268 shown below.
The 11-jewel movement is only 1.
95mm thick and has an approximate power reserve of 55 hours.
Are There Different Types of Tourbillons.
Tourbillons have evolved quite a bit since they were first invented.
In fact, there are quite a few types of tourbillons.
Some luxury watchmakers are really creative in the way they implement a tri-axial tourbillon.
Below you will find a few video examples of some of the more innovative ones.
Double-Axis Triple-Axis Tourbillons.
A multi-axis tourbillon is an innovation to the traditional tourbillon mechanism where the escapement is mounted in a cage that is rotated on more than one axis.
A triple-axis tourbillon also known as a tri-axial tourbillon is a tourbillon that rotates on three different axes.
A double-axis tourbillon only rotates on two axes.
Wasn t that sweet.
Below is another triple-axis tourbillon v .
Double and Quadruple Tourbillons.
A double or quadruple tourbillon is a watch that has more than one tourbillon complication such as the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon À Différentiel Sphérique featured in the video below.
A flying tourbillon is mounted differently than a traditional tourbillon.
Most are mounted with a support system such as a bridge or cock on both sides.
What makes the flying tourbillon different is that is supported from only one side.
Should You Get a Tourbillon Watch.
Yes but only if you can handle a whole lot of watch.
A tourbillon is a serious watch and will draw lots of attention to your wrist.
Many collectors would consider their tourbillon watches to be some of their most prized possessions.
So to answer the question Only get one if you think you can handle it.
Swiss Made Tourbillons.
For the most part, tourbillons are highly associated with Swiss watches as they were invented by a Swiss watchmaker and are to this day predominantly manufactured in Switzerland.
There are other countries though that produce them but few that can make them anywhere near as well as the way the Swiss watchmakers.
There are, however, a few exceptions.
Possibly the only country that produced high-quality tourbillons is Saxon-German watchmakers in the watchmaking town south of Dresden called Glashutte, Germany.
Many Swiss watchmakers make tourbillons, and they are usually quite costly.
However, there are some that are more affordable than others.
Recently, TAG Heuer released the Carrera 02T Tourbillon Chronograph which is considered to be the most affordable high quality, in-house tourbillon from a respected Swiss watch brand.
Click here to read the review or watch our in-house video demo below to see it in action.
German Made Tourbillons.
A few noteworthy German watchmakers that produce high-quality tourbillon complications are Lange Sohne and Glashutte Original.
These are two watches from highly respected watchmakers that manufacture excellent tourbillons.
A Lange Sohne Richard Lange Tourbillon Pour le Merite – Read the review below .
Glashutte Original Senator Sixties Square Tourbillon.
Still can t get enough tourbillons.
Click the button below for a few more.
Tourbillon Watches In A Nutshell; Expensive, Fun To Watch, Serve Little Purpose.
I f you know all about tourbillon watches, then none of this should be surprising or new to you.
If you don t, you might have a couple of outstanding questions as to what a tourbillon is, why prestigious watch makers say you should want one, and why they are so expensive.
This article is not going to be an in-depth analysis or explanation as to how a tourbillon works in detail, or all the different flavors, but it will shed enough light on the topic for you to participate intellectually in any topic related conversation.
The tourbillon has been around for a long time and was patented by watch making master Abraham Louis Breguet in who founded Breguet watches that is still around today and owned by the Swatch Group in 1795 and patented 1801.
That patent has long since expired.
Tourbillon is French for whirlwind.
This is because the mechanism literally spins on itself.
Breguet s ideas was essentially to house a clock within a clock.
While this characterization is a bit off realistically speaking, you have a balance wheel that rotates , rotating on itself.
If you understand the concept of a balance wheel, you know that it does not just turn endlessly in one direction.
Rather, it moves in a back and forth manner, like a revolving pendulum.
This is often referred to as balance wheel oscillation.
In fact, a balance wheel is a pendulum, and the consistency of its back and forth rotations are the basis for mechanical watch movement accuracy.
So a tourbillon is a balance wheel that itself rotates, but the balance wheel rotates in one direction not oscillation , and it typically make full rotation every 60 seconds, but sometimes every 30 seconds.
For this reason, the tourbillon is often used at the seconds counter when it is used in a watch.
A convenient way of putting in a seconds counter.
The main idea behind why a tourbillon is supposed to work, is that the balance wheel rotates to all positions equaling out the effect gravity might have on it being stuck in one position.
So if the balance wheel is constantly moving, then minor deviations here and there will be canceled out.
Again, this was the theory, and it has not necessarily been shown to actually work, or make a difference when it comes to watch accuracy.
Most watch makers actually agree that even if the tourbillon perfectly cancels out rate affecting effects of gravity on a balance wheel, this is not the key to ensuring accuracy.
As such, tourbillon watches are far from the most accurate watches around.
There are different types of tourbillons.
You may hear of traditional tourbillons one axis and flying tourbillons, along with various terms to refer to multi-axis tourbillons.
Traditional tourbillons use what is called a bridge, that is part of the mechanism that holds it in place.
This is literally the usually metal piece over the tourbillon, around which is free viewing of the tourbillon in operation.
A flying tourbillon is a special type of construction purely for aesthetic purposes that removes the bridge for unobstructed view of the tourbillon operating in its natural environment.
Here there is no bridge, but rather the tourbillon is connected to the movement from underneath.
A flying tourbillon is entirely a complicated cosmetic touch.
A tourbillon is placed in what is called a cage.
This cage rotates and houses the balance wheel that oscillates within.
Most tourbillon movements operate on one axis, but some exotic multi-axis tourbillons move around on two or more axis points.
The best way to think about this is picturing a gyroscope, or one of those human gyroscope rides.
The idea is to have the balance wheel moving around in three, versus two-dimensions.
The goal of a multi-axis tourbillon is provide gravity canceling out effects for a watch no matter what position is in which is likely as ones wrist moves around a lot.
The irony, is that multi-axis tourbillon movements are so expensive, you aren t going to have owners wearing them too often.
For example, Zenith recently announced the Zenith Defy Xtreme Zero G Multi-Dimensional Tourbillon Watch for 500,000.
No matter what type of tourbillon used, the idea is the same, to counteract the effects of gravity that may alter the accuracy and reliability of a balance wheel s oscillations.
Breguet s initial theory was that pocket watches, which are usually carried in the vertical position, suffer from accuracy deviations due to the effect of gravity on the ever moving balance wheel.
While this theory might have been sound for pocket watches, it does not really carry over well to wrist watches; not only does it not at all take into account that construction of the watch itself may affect reliability, but research has shown that Breguet s theories on tourbillon rate improvement are often not accurate.
Meaning that all the effort that goes into making and implementing a tourbillon movement does almost nothing to increase accuracy.
As such, a chronometer watch is vastly more accurate than a tourbillon.
Moral of the story being that tourbillons don t do much to make watches more accurate.
Instead, a well constructed watch that is finely tuned will beat out a tourbillon based watch anytime in terms of accuracy.
I must admit when I first learned of tourbillon watches I was under the impression that they must be the most accurate mechanical watches out there.
I now know this is not true, but I also know that they are simply not very accurate at all.
The migration of the tourbillon from pocket watches to wrist watches was instigated by a few of the most expensive and complex watch makers purely for I can do it prestige.
Audemars Piguet and Blancpain, among others headed this movement.
The first tourbillon-based watches were interesting, but lacked much of what people needed in a watch.
They were delicate, manually-wound, and often not very easy to read.
Later, automatic tourbillon movements arrived along with a number of aesthetic and functional variations, but of course the nature of the movement provided that it would always be delicate.
As such tourbillons will always remain mechanical art and objects of curiosity, rather than watch improving technological innovations.
There are really only two reasons for a tourbillon-based watch, and neither of them have anything to do with increased accuracy or reliability.
First is visual interest.
A tourbillon is cool to look at.
It is always moving and really makes the watch seem more alive.
This is especially true with the multi-axis tourbillon movements with their constant gyration.
The visual splendor is there, but arguably not worth the incredible premium.
The second reason to have a tourbillon watch is pure showiness and prestige.
These are very complex watches, with unorthodox movements in areas much smaller that traditionally required for a tourbillon.
It is basically saying to people, Look, I can afford a watch that has a lot more moving parts than your watch, doesn t it just look really complicated.
I am not saying this is a bad reason, but again, the cost of entrance into the tourbillon club, at least for a decent quality one is so high, it is almost ridiculous.
While there many tourbillon options out there, the average price for them is between 50,000 and 90,000.
You can get a good quality certified chronometer watch for about 2,000.
There are also cheap no-name watches that call themselves tourbillon watches, but really are not.
There is no governing agency ready to shut down rogue watch makers.
Just don t expect that a 50 Classic Tourbillon Extreme on eBay is anything close to what a tourbillon really is.
A cynic would describe modern tourbillon watches as a gimmick.
Most dedicated tests on tourbillon movements found that they are not particularly useful, and if they do counter gravity as promised, what that does, is not particularly clear, nor it is clear if it means anything at all on a wrist watch versus a pocket watch.
What is clear however is that they are extremely complex to develop and manufacture.
Each tourbillon must be carefully assembled by hand, and is a pleasure to look at.
It is a marvel to see the balance wheel moving around in what seems like a disconnected way, yet it is still powering the watch.
Further still, multi-axis tourbillons are almost addictive to look while viewing the obvious complexity and intrigue of the movement.
Still, is that worth the money for most people.
The answer there is probably clear.
So tourbillons are interesting and cool, but no one really needs one.
If you have the money and want a technically sophisticated watch to tout around, then you will be doing yourself a favor by opting for a watch with a tourbillon movement.
You have lots of options to choose from.
See tourbillon watches on eBay here.
When looking, realize there are many tourbillon watches that clearly aren t real tourbillons.
The level of sophistication required to make tourbillon movements means that only major watch makers can produce them.
UPDATE We ve updated the photos here with some recent tourbillon watch images due to so many missing images in the original post.
In-Depth Does The Tourbillon Have Any Real Benefits In A Wristwatch.
For a clear-cut answer, we went to Roger Smith.
It s indisputably true that Breguet invented the tourbillon with the intention of creating something that would improve the performance of a watch.
At the same time that Breguet created the tourbillon his patent is from 1801 he also created a controversy.
The tourbillon is supposed to do something very specific reduce the rate variation between the flat positions of a watch, and the vertical positions, to an absolute minimum.
Enthusiasts who are interested in precision know that a watch runs at slightly different rates in each of the classic positions in which a watch is timed.
These are the vertical positions or hanging positions which are crown up, down, left, and right, and the flat, or horizontal positions dial up and dial down.
George Daniels succinctly states the purpose of the tourbillon in his book Watchmaking , The purpose of the invention was to eliminate errors of poise in the balance by revolving the escapement continuously to produce a uniform average rate.
Breguet four minute tourbillon, 1806, made for Count Stanislaw Potoki, no.
1176, with Breguet natural escapement and 21,600 vph frequency.
Auctioned at Christie s in 2014 for 935,442.
The biggest discrepancies are between the vertical and flat positions, thanks to the effects of gravity on the balance and balance spring Breguet s thought was well, if I put the balance and its spring as well as the escapement, including the escape wheel inside a rotating cage that turns in the same plane as the dial, I ll get a single, average rate for all the vertical positions.
Daniels remarks, The close vertical rates obtainable with a tourbillon will last longer than similar rates from a conventional watch.
He also points out, The tourbillon watch is expected to keep better time than a conventional watch.
If its potential to maintain a closer rate for a longer period of time is to be fully exploited, it should be fitted with an escapement that does not need oil at the impulse surfaces.
The reason for this is obvious as lubricant deteriorates, the rate of the watch will vary.
Now, all this seems relatively straightforward.
The notion that a tourbillon should be an aid to rate stability seems intuitive enough and yet it has become more or less a matter of conventional wisdom nowadays that the tourbillon is not a help in fact, it s often expressed that it s more of a hindrance than anything else.
Against the theoretical potential of the tourbillon, there are a number of practical arguments, which can be divided into arguments against the tourbillon in a wristwatch, and arguments against the tourbillon, period.
Patek Philippe observatory tourbillon movement, with 50 second tourbillon; mid-20th century; obtained a first-class bulletin.
To take the second set of objections first, the tourbillon creates some issues while attempting to address another.
You do get a single average rate for all the hanging positions, for sure, but you also need a more powerful mainspring because instead of the movement just moving the balance when the escapement unlocks, you have to move the mass of everything in the cage as well balance, spring, lever, and escape wheel.
On top of that you have to move the mass of the cage.
Every single time the balance unlocks and the escape wheel advances a tooth, the whole kit and kaboodle has to move which is a major additional inertial load, as well as a lot of additional load on the pallets and escape wheel teeth.
If you want to get around this nowadays, and you re making a tourbillon on the cheap, you can overcome lower manufacturing precision by throwing in a stronger mainspring; traditionally, however, making a tourbillon involved manufacturing to very high precision so as to avoid excess wear.
Audemars Piguet ultra thin cal.
In a wristwatch the objections become even more pronounced.
The space issue is perhaps less urgent in a pocket watch, but in a wristwatch, the tourbillon really starts to hog available space; building a tourbillon into a 50mm or larger pocket watch is one thing, but fitting one into, say, a 30mm diameter watch movement is another.
There were certainly tourbillon wristwatches built in the days before the post-quartz luxury watch boom, but they were very few in number Patek Philippe made several wristwatch tourbillons for the observatory trials, as did Omega, but these are rarities, and the search for winning timekeeping solutions in the observatory trials was largely taken up with refining the lever escapement watch, and improving fine adjustment techniques.
Audemars Piguet s ultra-thin tourbillon watch, caliber 2780, from 1986, was intended as a demonstration of tour de force watchmaking prowess, not a serious contribution to precision timekeeping.
Finally, it s doubtful whether, as the saying goes, the game is even worth the candle.
We asked watchmaker Roger Smith, who s known in the watch community for his advocacy of simplicity and robustness as traits of paramount desirability in a watch movement, for his views on the tourbillon in a wristwatch.
I think George Daniels would have happily admitted that a tourbillon has no practical purpose within modern horology, and I would agree.
The tourbillon was invented to cope with the vagaries of a split bimetallic balance, which due to its nature two flexible arms is impossible to poise, due to the varying temperatures, centrifugal forces and repeated shocks that a watch will receive.
The tourbillon moderated these issues.
Today, the industry all use mono metallic balances which do not move once poised in the factory or workshop, and so for practical purposes relegates the tourbillon to the history books.
Where a tourbillon does have a role today, is when a watchmaker is wanting to show off their skill, artistry and flare for miniaturized mechanics and to stand out from the crowd.
I would still put one in a watch.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic is a slim, modern take on the tourbillon.
It s conventional wisdom that the natural home of a tourbillon is in a pocket watch but Smith makes an interesting and often forgotten point the split balances used in pre-Glucydur balance watches, which were paired with steel balance springs, were extremely difficult to poise both statically and dynamically, and moreover would have any poise errors amplified by the expansion and contraction of the balance.
In this context, a tourbillon could be effective, or at least it would seem so from observatory time trial records a Girard-Perregaux observatory tourbillon from the 1890s, was recorded at the observatory at Neûchatel as having a difference in rate between the flat and hanging positions of just 0.
19 seconds day.
But in a modern watch with a monometallic balance, the device seems superfluous at best and parasitic at worst, purely from a chronometry standpoint.
Modern Rolex watches, to take just one obvious example, leave the factory adjusted to 2 seconds per day, which a tourbillon wristwatch certainly one of the same proportions as, say, a 39mm Oyster Perpetual would be hard pressed to match.
Dial and movement, Girard-Perregaux observatory tourbillon, 1889.
Still, there are interesting outliers in the data on tourbillon wristwatches.
The Concours International de Chronométrie was one of the few modern examples of a real accuracy competition, and in 2011, a Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique was the overall champion, with 915 points out of 1000 overall awarded a Tissot, the winner in the Classique category, scored 764 points.
The 2009 edition of the Concours also featured winning performances from tourbillons, with the JLC Master Tourbillon and Gyrotourbillon obtaining the highest overall scores.
Such a small sample size, of course, provides little in terms of solid information on the benefits of the tourbillon and as with all time trials, may say as much about the adjusters as it does about the watch, but at least it shows that the device is not necessarily inimical to accuracy which is not strong marquee, as they say, but it s something.
The Greubel-Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire.
A final point which is sometimes forgotten in the discussion of tourbillons in watches, is that the single average rate for the vertical positions is itself subject to instability.
Having a single average rate is certainly a theoretical advantage, but that single rate is an average and itself subject to variation depending on the amount of power in the mainspring, the state of lubrication of the watch, and the amount of time it spends in varying positions where poise errors may be more or less exaggerated.
The latter issue is the one that multi-axis wristwatch tourbillons are meant to address, and certainly, such tourbillons those from Greubel-Forsey, for instance remain fascinating as intellectual exercises.
That may sound like damning with faint praise, but it isn t the intellectual interest of such watches isn t for everyone and certainly the price is not for every wallet but they remain intriguing examples of the exploration of bleeding edge mechanical solutions to long term rate stability; experimental constant force escapements like Girard-Perregaux s are another example of such experimentation, and I think the watch world is definitely richer for such things.
Lange Söhne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst.
Asked if it s true that a tourbillon could at least proved a theoretical benefit in a wristwatch given its ability to produce a single average rate in the vertical positions Smith replied, A simple and well set up balance and spring will hold as good a rate in the verticals as any tourbillon.
In the long term, a simple watch will far out perform a more complicated tourbillon, particularly as the lubricants begin to age.
Patek observatory tourbillon no.
86115, cased for Philippe Stern in 1987.