3D-printed Watch with Tourbillon – How it s made.
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This is a mechanical watch with tourbillon driven by a 3d-printed mainspring.
The watch has a Swiss lever escapement.
The mainspring inside the going barrel keeps the watch running for approximately 30-45 Minutes.
Accuracy is roughly one Second deviation within one Minute depending on print-settings .
The project demonstrates that the 3D-printing technology is developing.
Compared with earlier generations of 3d-printers, the process works more reliable and more accurately.
However it s still a very advanced project, because printing inaccuracies need to be trimmed manually with some watchmaker skills, or the watch won t tick.
The watch is designed with Autodesk Fusion 360, and printed with Ultimaker 2.
If you were about to pay an exorbitant amount of money on a watch say something in the six figures ballpark you d almost certainly be looking at a tourbillon watch.
Tourbillon watches are considered some of the most mechanically beautiful timepieces available and have become sought-after items for watch aficionados.
So, what exactly is the big deal.
Why would anyone pay so much for any watch that wasn t made of diamond-infused pure gold.
To understand what a tourbillon watch is, and why one can carry such a high price tag, we need to first unpack a mechanical watch to understand what makes it, well, tick.
Table of Contents.
Looking inside a watch.
There are many different kinds of timepieces, but for our purposes, all we re interested in are mechanical watches.
The main parts that you will find inside a mechanical watch are a spring known as the mainspring , the gear train three separate gears , the weighted wheel, and the escapement.
Mechanical watches can be assembled in various configurations and styles, but they will have some variation on these four parts.
The spring, which is either manually or automatically wound, provides the energy.
That energy travels through the gears, through the escapement, and into the weighted wheel.
The weighted wheel, also known as the balance wheel or just balance is the equivalent of the pendulum in older clocks its oscillating motion is the timekeeper.
Watch this informative video for a visual representation of the process.
The mechanical watch is a remarkable invention, but it s by no means perfect.
For one thing, considerable amounts of energy are lost in this process, which is inevitable when that much energy transfer is occurring between gears.
In addition to the loss of energy, mechanical parts, no matter how securely designed, are affected by gravity, magnets, temperature, and other outside forces.
All of these factors result in timepieces that grow less precise with time.
With different materials and designs, some of those issues had been mitigated, but gravity remained a persistent issue that all horologists faced.
Enter the tourbillon.
A brief history of the tourbillon watch.
Invented at the turn of the 18th century, the tourbillon watch was the creation of French watchmaker, Abraham-Louis Breguet.
Due to gravitational forces, the escapement acts slightly different depending on its positioning.
If a watch is stuck in the same position for an extended period of time say, held vertically in a pocket the cumulative effect of gravity will alter its motion.
For this reason, watches needed to be regulated regularly.
Frustrated by this effect that gravity had on his watches, Breguet conjured a clever solution place the escapement and balance wheel in a constantly rotating enclosure so that the natural wear of gravitational pull would be spread evenly.
It wasn t a perfect solution some now argue it wasn t a solution at all but at the time, it was a unique, and lucrative, fix.
For a visual of how a tourbillon works see this short video .
Since Breguet s time, other horologists have augmented his original design.
There are double – and triple-axis tourbillons, double and quadruple tourbillons, flying tourbillons, and more.
These variations on the basic tourbillon are intended to better counteract gravity and, supposedly, make watches more accurate.
For modern watches, tourbillons are mostly superfluous.
Breguet didn t have the benefit of the technology, science, and materials that modern horologists have access to today.
Plenty of watchmakers still use tourbillon, especially in the Swiss industry.
These modern watches often have a window in the face to show off the tourbillon.
But that is all tourbillons are useful for now showing off.
Why do tourbillons cost so much.
If tourbillons don t serve any actual function in modern watches, why do companies charge so much for them.
Short answer because they can.
Like much in the luxury goods industry, the value of a modern tourbillon watch isn t in its functionality, but in its style and complexity.
A tourbillon is an incredibly intricate contraption, often made up of 40 separate pieces, and requires an impressive amount of craftsmanship and skill.
There is a reason most tourbillon watches are Swiss Made.
For many years, the cheapest tourbillon watches on the market were in the range of 40-50K, an example would be the Extreme Tourbillon Regulator by Alpina retails for 52,500 while many tourbillons still cost north of 100,000.
That s a lot of money for what is essentially the most complex thingamabob you will ever wear.
In the past decade, though, changes have been coming to the industry, and as has so often been the case in the watch industry, the revolution is occurring in Asia.
Finding affordable tourbillon watches.
Before diving in too deep, it needs to be stressed that affordable is a relative term.
Now then, well-known Swiss watchmakers, TAG Heuer, produced their first affordable tourbillon watch in 2016, releasing the 15,000 Heuer-02T like we said, relative .
For a watchmaker of TAG Heuer s stature to produce the Heuer-02T was a definitive signal of an industry shift.
To be clear, though, TAG Heuer was not the first company to release an affordable tourbillon watch.
The first Chinese tourbillon watches were mostly knockoffs of Swiss design and still came with a four-digit price tag, not exactly the ideal choice for your average watch shopper.
In the more than ten years since those first cheaper tourbillon watches started entering the market, the technology has gotten more refined and more affordable.
Nowadays, it is possible to find a tourbillon watch starting in the 500 to 700 range without skimping too much on quality or style if you re seeing a 50 tourbillon watch online, buyer beware .
Something like this Akribos XXIV Tourbillon Moonphase Watch see on Amazon would be a good starting point if you are shopping for your first one.
Are cheap tourbillons any good.
Whether or not you re going to like your cheaper tourbillon watch is essentially dependent on why you re buying one.
If you are under the misconception that tourbillon watches are the most accurate on the market, you are buying a tourbillon for all the wrong reasons.
Most non-mechanical watches will be more accurate.
Go with an atomic watch if you re wanting accuracy.
If your main interest in a tourbillon watch is because they re cool which they are then there s no reason a Chinese watch won t satisfy you just as much as its Swiss counterpart.
The only reason you would be better off getting a Swiss Made tourbillon watch is the same reason you would buy any Swiss watch the Swiss make the most precisely crafted and impeccably stylish watches on the market.
If the price is no concern for you and you have your eyes set on a tourbillon, go with the Swiss.
For everyone else, rest assured, a tourbillon watch doesn t have to cost more than your apartment.
Speaking of astronomical prices, check out these watches that have been worn in space.
Progress Through Technology 10 Tourbillon Watches with High-Tech Designs.
Audi s progress through technology motto also applies to the importance of the tourbillon for watch design, because this eye-catching complication greatly enhances a timepiece s visual appeal.
A new trend contributes its fair share, too many recent models are styled with such a strong emphasis on high tech that their tourbillons fit harmoniously into their overall designs.
Here are 10 of these tourbillon watches.
Richard Mille 50-02 ACJ.
Richard Mille collaborated with Airbus Corporate Jets, which builds luxurious aircraft, to design a technical miracle with an extremely modern-styled tourbillon at 6 o clock.
The split-seconds chronograph for measuring lap times, the torque indicator at the 2 to show how much tension remains in the barrel, and the display at the 4 to show which position has been selected for the crown are likewise readily visible.
Titanium-aluminum alloy, manufacture Caliber RM 50-02, automatic, 30 pieces, 1,050,000.
Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari Sapphire.
In this transparent and very extreme wristwatch from Hublot , a vertically positioned tourbillon perfectly augments 11 vertical barrels, which team up to provide 50 yes, 50.
days of power reserve.
A battery-powered screwdriver is delivered along with the watch to wind the mainsprings.
8 mm, manufacture Caliber LaFerrari, hand-wound, 20 pieces, 575,000.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie.
A tourbillon provides additional visual appeal in the open styling of this newest technological tour de force from Audemars Piguet.
This timepiece also offers a delightful audible treat in the form of the clearest and loudest minute repeater in the entire watchmaking industry.
Titanium, 44 mm, manufacture Caliber 2937, hand-wound, 520,000 Swiss francs.
The tourbillon is the sole classically designed component here.
The highly unconventional time display consists of a jumping hour with two separate disks and a minutes hand pulled across a linear scale by slender cables.
The rollers that move these threads resemble the winches that tighten the lines that secure the mast on a sailing yacht.
White gold, 44 mm, Caliber UN 630 by Christophe Claret , hand-wound, 18 pieces, 280,000.
Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon.
Eclipse the tourbillon to indicate the moon s phase.
This may sound crazy, but it s precisely what Cartier does.
When the push-piece at 4 o clock is pressed, a circular disk of stone cut from a meteorite slides in front of the tourbillon so the portion of the whirlwind that remains visible corresponds to the moon s momentary phase.
Rose gold, 47 mm, manufacture Caliber 9440 MC, hand-wound, 15 pieces, 239,000.
Montblanc 4810 Exotourbillon Slim.
Ordinary tourbillons are also still available.
A handsomely closed dial and a tourbillon in a dedicated aperture are Montblanc s interpretation of classical horological beauty at a comparatively affordable price.
Rose gold, 42 mm, manufacture Caliber MB 29.
21, automatic, 33,500.
Christophe Claret X-Trem-1.
The characteristically wavy grain of damascene steel makes the Christophe Claret X-Trem-1 look even more extreme.
This watch set new technical standards in 2012 its tourbillon is positioned on a diagonal, which makes it difficult to connect the tourbillon to the movement.
The whirlwind combines with floating balls, magnetically pulled through tubes, to show the hours and minutes.
Damascene steel and rose gold, 40.
8 mm, manufacture Caliber FLY11, hand-wound, eight pieces, 308,000.
Breguet La Marine Équation Marchante 5887.
The tourbillon was patented by the French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet on June 26, 1801.
For the 5887, the prestigious brand has not only added a perpetual calendar, but also measures time according to the current position of the sun the central hand with sun motif , by which the length of a day can vary by -16 to 14 minutes compared to average or civil time.
The difference is called the equation of time.
The cam responsible for this is shaped like a figure eight, and visible on the dial through a window that also displays the tourbillon carriage.
It runs on a sapphire disk so as not to block the view of the tourbillon.
9 mm, manufacture Caliber 581DPE, automatic, 230,400.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Ultranero.
Bulgari unveiled the slimmest tourbillon movement ever in 2014.
The caliber is just 1.
95 mm tall and ticks inside a 5-mm-slim wristwatch, which acquires a sporty touch in 2016 thanks to blackened titanium.
The straight lines in this watch s design highlight the complication, which attracts everyone s admiring gaze.
DLC-coated titanium, 40 mm, manufacture Caliber Finissimo Tourbillon, hand-wound, 99,000.
TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02 Tourbillon.
A tourbillon watch with a chronograph, automatic winding and chronometer certificate is sensational, even if TAG Heuer tries to quell the hype by calling attention to its industrialized fabrication.
An open and symmetrical construction further enhances this watch s visual appeal.
Titanium, partly coated with titanium carbide, 45 mm, manufacture Caliber Heuer 02T, automatic, 15,950.
A marvel of mechanics.
The word to describe what is inarguably the most revered complication in the world of watches is borrowed from the French language Tourbillon meaning whirlwind , as the name describes, is a component that turns 360 degrees within a watch.
To be precise, the escapement, which is found in all mechanical watches, is modified to make a full rotation every minute in order to counter the gravitational force that is exerted on it.
This is to improve the overall accuracy of the watch and because of their mesmerising mechanics and the sheer skill that goes into creating this masterpiece, tourbillons are held in very high regard amongst watch enthusiasts.
A whirlwind on the wrist a closer look at the tourbillon and its functions.
The tourbillon was invented in 1795 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the legendary watchmaking visionary.
The patent was granted to Breguet in 1801 in Paris.
The complications prime function was to compensate for inaccuracies caused by changes in a pocket watch s position relative to the gravitational force that was exerted on the watch.
The Breguet Tourbillon s escapement is placed within a carriage that makes a full revolution in regular intervals around the centre seconds pinion.
Due to that rotation, the gravitational force is exerted in equal parts at each point of the escapement, in essence negating the effect of gravity on the critical points of the movement by taking it out of the equation, thus correcting for gravitational error.
Unlike a pocket watch, wristwatches are usually in frequent motion throughout the day, thus achieving the same effect a tourbillon would on a static timepiece.
Nonetheless, the ability to create tourbillon is equatable to a badge of honour in horology, as it is at the pinnacle of fine watchmaking.
Its purpose may be primarily aesthetical, but it is a spectacular addition to a watch that is held in high regard for good reason.
Variants and innovations.
Throughout history, several different variants of the tourbillon have been created.
From the Tourbillon to the Gyrotourbillon, let us have a look at the different creations the great masters of horology have invented.