Why do you think prominent watchmaking companies make luxury mechanical watches as opposed to creating their own version of a Quartz watch? Well, that is because mechanical watches require a higher level of technical virtuosity and the entire thing just looks nicer compared to your run-of-the-mill Quartz configuration.
But, the nature of the mechanical watch’s movement makes it quite susceptible to the forces of gravity. Therefore, a prominent watchmaker created something that will help counteract that, making mechanical watches retain its relatively accurate timekeeping ability. That ‘something’ is known as the Tourbillon.
The tourbillon is a French word for ‘Whirlwind’ and the term is used for that mechanism that you can see in mechanical watches, allowing it to move relatively accurately.
Because a mechanical watch has a lot of moving parts, the smaller components inside the watch’s escapement, namely the pallet fork, the hairspring, and the balance wheel, are all subject to the forces of gravity. Gravity can act against it which will cause some positional errors.
A tourbillon is basically a mechanism that prevents that from happening. Instead of having the escapement go unprotected, the tourbillon encapsulates every component inside a huge cage that revolves once per minute.
The mechanism was originally used as a means to make pocket watches tell the time accurately. Because such timepieces are in its vertical position, its timekeeping feature is relatively inaccurate.
Since its invention, the said mechanism has received a lot of different redesigns and changes. Truth be told, because of the fact that there is so much more movement in wristwatches than pocket watches, the tourbillon is no longer necessary.
However, just the intricacy of the mechanism itself warrants it to be placed inside a wristwatch, thus, the new line of tourbillon watches was born.
There are actually many different types of tourbillons, but its design is still kept as close to the original as possible. Here are some types of tourbillons that are used today:
- Double-Axis Tourbillon- This design was created by Anthony Randall in 1977 but was mainly used in wristwatches in 1980 thanks to Richard Good. It’s got two axes that each rotate once per minute.
- Double and Quadruple Tourbillon- The double tourbillon design was launched in 2004 by Greubel Forsey and as you can tell by its name, it has two different tourbillons. Forsey’s implementation is that one tourbillon rotates at a 30-degree angle once per minute while the other one rates once every four minutes. The Quadruple Tourbillon was also introduced by Forsey just a year after the launch of his double tourbillon design. As the name implies, it has two, double tourbillon configurations.
Some Important Tourbillon Watches in History
- The Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon 6002G is one of the most expensive tourbillon watches mainly because of its highly-complex design. The company has paired two dials with 13 different complications, both on the front and the back.
- The Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon is also very important because of its clever use of the double-axis tourbillon design combined with a cylindrical hairspring.
- Most watchmaking companies that implement this particular watch complication are based in Europe. Because of their design, implementation, materials, among a host of other things, tourbillon watches from the said region are quite expensive. The Chinese want to do their own tourbillon design and the Aatos Tiago Tourbillon watch was the first of the inexpensive tourbillon watches that you can find on the market today, retailing at an affordable price of only $412.