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
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
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
- 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.