What is a Tourbillon Watch – The Ultimate Guide

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Even if you don’t know a great deal about watches, you may want to know a thing or two about what a tourbillon does to one. Last year, Tag Heuer made significant headlines after unveiling what the company calls an affordable tourbillon watch, a timepiece that cost a whopping $20,000. But watches like Era creating more affordable alternatives.

Though the tourbillon was once considered a breakthrough in the watch industry, today, it is mainly used for showing off, just like spinners on a hummer.

For those wondering why the tourbillon is so special, today’s post will answer all your questions and more. Read on to learn everything you need to know about tourbillon watches.

What is a tourbillon?

A tourbillon is unlike any other thing ever to grace the watchmaking industry. This incredible mechanical complication was poised to revolutionize the watch industry. When it was first released in the early 1975s, the tourbillon featured in the movement of certain high-grade mechanical watches.

The tourbillon first hit the scene when pocket watches were in huge demand. While it looked fascinating, it also looked hypnotic, making it highly sought after by premium watch lovers.

Compared to traditional watches, watches with tourbillons are a bit expensive. Plus, they aren’t one of the most common complications you’ll find in today’s watches. That said, they are certainly one of those inventions that will interest just about any watch lover.

What does a tourbillon look like?

Even experienced watch dealers sometimes mistake the tourbillon with a semi-skeletonized dial, especially those with a visible balance wheel. That’s why you want to do your due diligence by contacting watch experts before you ever jump on any tourbillon deal you come across.

Also, you want to read further about tourbillon watches. This way, you’ll be able to identify a genuine tourbillon watch when you see one.

Why do most mechanical watches have tourbillons?

The tourbillon was uniquely designed to address some of the significant issues that mechanical watches had, mainly as it concerned the accuracy, precision, and general physics of their movements.

When it comes to early mechanical watches, gravity was one of the biggest issues they had to address as it tends to drag on the watch’s movement when held in certain positions.

Thanks to the introduction of the tourbillon, watchmakers were able to counter the drag effect of gravity on some smaller components, resulting in more accuracy and precision.

ERA Hyperion review

How the tourbillon works

The tourbillon is a unique technology that was used to place certain parts of a watch’s internal mechanics on a rotating cage. In terms of components, the escapement for tourbillons comprises a balance wheel, hairspring, and pallet fork.

Once everything is in place, the tourbillon is designed to slowly rotate its cage along with other components at a rate of 1 RPM. What this does is counteract the effects that gravity creates when the watch is held in certain positions.

With this brilliant technology, most watchmakers were able to reduce the positional errors of accuracy in their watches dramatically.

Who invented the tourbillon?

The tourbillon, which first hit the watchmaking scene in the early 1975s, was the brainchild of Abraham-Louis Breguet, one of the most renowned watchmakers of his time. Having launched the tourbillon in 1975, Abraham Louis patented the technology in Paris on the 26th of June, 1801.

Since his invention, many variations of the tourbillon have been produced. From the flying tourbillions to the double-axis tourbillion to the tourbillions rotating at different rates and even shock-resistant tourbillions, this fine technology revolutionized the watch industry.

As the technology grew in popularity, the watch industry began to see inclined tourbillons, particularly tourbillion watches with one to four carriages.

Unfortunately, with the dominance of wristwatches coupled with the advancement in modern watchmaking, the tourbillion has lost its place as an accuracy enhancer.

As the technology evolved, the tourbillion lost its place from what Ariel Adams described as an exciting but scarce feature to an increasingly accessible feature today.

Types of tourbillons

Since they first hit the watch industry, tourbillons have evolved quite a bit. As a matter of fact, the watch industry has seen a couple of new types of tourbillons as some luxury watchmakers have taken things up a notch; in an attempt to deliver unique tourbillons not seen in the watch industry.

From tri-axial turbillions to double-axis tourbillons to triple axis-tourbillons and more, the watch industry has had its fair share of tourbillons, each with its unique functionality and design.

While a multi-axis tourbillion is a new innovation designed to give traditional tourbillons a run for their money, it still performs the same. The only difference here is that a multi-axis tourbillon has its escapement mounted in a cage with more than one rotating axis.

Although a triple-axis tourbillon rotates on three different axis, a double-axis tourbillon, on the other hand, rotates on only two axis.

Why are watches with tourbillon so expensive?

Thanks to the advancement in modern watchmaking, Far Eastern sourced tourbillon watches are a fraction of what they cost many years ago. Today, you can find tourbillon watches that cost around $1,500

That said, high-end luxury tourbillon watches from popular brands like Greubel Forsey will remain a prized possession for only the super-rich, and that’s all thanks to their fine craftsmanship and the materials used to make them.

Frequently asked questions

What is the point of a tourbillon?

Why are tourbillon watches considered a rare gem? Well, the answer is simple. Watches with tourbillons are designed to address issues with mechanical watches as regards the way physics affects the accuracy and precision of their movement.

What is the cheapest Tourbillon watch?

While tourbillon watches are expensive, the Automatic Tourbillon G701 is one of the cheapest tourbillon watches out there. Like many watches out there, the Automatic Tourbillon G701 spots a fantastic design and a luxurious feel.

Are tourbillon watches worth it?

A tourbillon watch is incredible to look at, and that’s all thanks to its unique movement. While multi-axis tourbillon spots movements in constant gyration, tourbillion watches are only great for their visual splendor. Their outrageous pricing is not worth the incredible premium.

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