This topic perfectly follows up the previous one, which was all about the details. When talking about tourbillon watches, you’re generally referring to just one tiny detail. Albeit a very interesting one. While these watches are out of reach for many of us, they are popular regardless. The complication has the ability to reveal many beautiful details that watchmaking has to offer. So let’s have a look at some stunning tourbillon watches from my archives.

For those of you who don’t know about a tourbillon, or what it does, let’s explain it in short. It all begins with gravity and the effect it has on a watch. Or, to be more precise, the effect it has on a watch’s beating heart. As gravity affects all the parts of a mechanical watch, the effect on the escapement and balance spring could cause a watch to run with less precision. With the design of the tourbillon, around 1795 by Breguet, this negative effect was counteracted. By turning all the parts around one or more axes constantly, the influence of gravity should be neutralized.

Types of Tourbillon

Ever since the first tourbillon was invented by Breguet over 200 years ago, several variations have found their way to wristwatches in modern watchmaking. Going through my archive I come across so many different types which I have seen through the years. Whether it’s placed at an angle, rotating around in multiple angles or ‘simply’ having multiple tourbillon complications packed together in one movement. Or even in line with other complications like te Cabestan below.

Cabestan Dragon Nera constant force tourbillon with moonphase and 3D dragon

No matter which type of tourbillon you see, they are proper wrist-candy and photograph well. Although they are not really in the scope of the general audience so to say, due to the hefty price tag, most will appreciate the level of watchmaking that is involved in the making of a tourbillon watch. Aside from some brands that offer you a tourbillon for a bargain, most are priced towards the six figures and beyond. For that, you do get an incredible piece of micro-engineering which has been finished to perfection in the smallest detail. 

Tourbillon cage held by a glass bridge

Hidden Beauty

Let’s be honest, unlike us watch freaks, most peeps don’t even blink an eye when it comes to watches. It’s not in their interest at all. Through the years, I’ve worn a lot of crazy things and hardly ever got a remark or comment. Even when I flew out with a Ladoire Black Widow on my wrist, nobody noticed. When the partner of a mate was wearing her Patek Philippe, her friends commented on it, saying how nice that a Guess watch was on her wrist. Not a Guess watch? Oh. Nevermind, it’s still a nice watch. Oh, the hilarity…

But for those who know and look at wrists like most of us do, a tourbillon stands out. Unless you go for a hidden tourbillon (pure class). In those cases, observers have to be on their game to notice. My budget doesn’t allow me to buy a tourbillon but if that changed, it would probably be a hidden one. Something like the Lange below would do quite nicely…

A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Tourbillon, only visible through the back.

Laurent Ferrier Galet Square Tourbillon

Multiple ways

For some watchmakers, having a single tourbillon in a watch isn’t enough. More is better they say, so why not add more in one watch? Greubel Forsey is one of those brands known for its exotic watchmaking and has even created a quadruple tourbillon. Sadly I’ve not had one in my hands, or in front of my lens. Yet. 

Double tourbillon by Louis Moinet

But it’s not only about multiple tourbillon movements. Some have multiple axes to revolve around. There is one that I remember very well. Sitting in a booth at Baselworld there was the tri-axial tourbillon by Girard-Perregaux. At the fairs, it’s always a wait for the high-end pieces if you get to see them at all. Until today this is still the watch which brought me one of my favorite watch pictures of all time. One minute, 7 captures. If only a tourbillon was that easy to create.

Girard Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon

Make sure to check out the full gallery below.