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A whirlwind of tourbillons
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A whirlwind of tourbillons

Friday, 11 September 2020
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

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6 min read

Tourbillons are everywhere. Simple, flying, multi-axes, built into skeleton movements or sharing the stage with other complications, this rotating mechanism is as desirable as ever.

For a watch to be considered an example of fine horology, must it have a tourbillon? If the profusion of new releases that feature this delicate mechanism is anything to go by, it would almost seem so. A complication by name rather than by nature, meaning it doesn’t qualify as an actual function except when carrying a small seconds display, this type of regulating organ needs no other justification than the desire for precision or as an element of a complex mechanism. Leaving aside the question of its true benefit in a wristwatch, the tourbillon is a window into the heart of a mechanical watch whose fascination remains intact.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph

Audemars Piguet continues to build on its Code 11.59 collection. After the various colour schemes introduced this summer comes the Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph with flyback function. This is the first time the brand has offered this combination of complications, beautifully showcased in a white gold case with openwork dial. The centre of the chronograph counters is also cut away to show off the new 2952 calibre.

Code 11.59 Tourbillon Volant Chronographe Automatique © Audemars Piguet
Code 11.59 Tourbillon Volant Chronographe Automatique © Audemars Piguet
Bovet Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two

Presented at Geneva Watch Days, the Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two offers an original configuration. The movement, which is housed in Bovet’s “writing slope” case, incorporates a patented double-sided tourbillon and delivers an impressive ten days of power reserve from a single barrel. Two aventurine dials, one for the aforementioned power reserve and one for the large date display, complete this mechanical tour de force.

Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two © Bovet 1822
Virtuoso VIII Chapter Two © Bovet 1822
Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique 5367

Everything about this watch has been imagined as a perfect backdrop for the tourbillon, not least the Grand Feu enamel dial, in an intense shade of blue, and the slightly off-centre position of the chapter ring to allow a greater expanse of the dial for the tourbillon. Incorporated into an extra-thin movement, barely 3mm high, this oscillating organ has been given a bold hand-bevelled bar, topped by a spinel.

Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique 5367 © Breguet
Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique 5367 © Breguet
Bulgari Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire Malachite

First seen in 2019 in blue with a sandblasted pink gold case, the Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire now comes in a 44mm platinum case, lavishly set with baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel and lugs. Whereas its predecessor featured a transparent sapphire caseband, here the sides of the case are in malachite, as are the hour markers which extend like green tentacles over the fully skeletonised movement.

Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire Malachite © Bulgari
Octo Roma Tourbillon Sapphire Malachite © Bulgari
Franck Muller Vanguard Revolution 3 Skeleton

This complex skeletonised mechanism centres around the triple-axis tourbillon, a compelling presence at 6 o’clock under a sapphire crystal dome. The cages rotate through one-hour, eight-minute and sixty-second cycles, with two retrograde indications tracking the progress of the two slower cages. A full ten days of power reserve, shown at 12 o’clock, ensure sufficient autonomy for this breathtaking display of micromechanics.

Vanguard Revolution 3 Squelette © Franck Muller
Vanguard Revolution 3 Squelette © Franck Muller
Girard-Perregaux Cosmos Infinity

Introduced by Girard-Perregaux last year, the Cosmos is back in the spotlight as an Infinity edition with an onyx dial. On show are the Cosmos’s three complications: a tourbillon whose cage is supported by the brand’s signature “Neo” bridge; a terrestrial globe that makes one revolution in 24 hours, and a celestial globe whose rotation corresponds to a sidereal day, which is four minutes shorter than a mean civil day.

Cosmos Infinity © Girard-Perregaux
Cosmos Infinity © Girard-Perregaux
Glashütte Original PanoLunar Tourbillon

This watch is a revival of a 2013 model. Incorporating a one-minute flying tourbillon that doubles as small seconds, Calibre 93-12 drives hours and minutes, as well as a large date display and moon phases. For this 25-piece limited edition in platinum, Glashütte Original has placed particular emphasis on the carefully hand-engraved gold dial whose asymmetric layout, with an off-centre auxiliary dial for hours and minutes, is characteristic of the Pano collection.

PanoLunar Tourbillon © Glashütte Original
PanoLunar Tourbillon © Glashütte Original
Hermès Arceau Lift Tourbillon Répétition Minutes

Housed inside an Arceau case with asymmetric lugs, Hermès transposes high complications to its favourite equestrian theme. Cut into the lacquered dial, a horse’s head mirrors the curve of the case to reveal the workings of the minute repeater mechanism with double gongs. Joining this complication is a flying tourbillon, tucked into the horse’s neck and visible through a round aperture at 6 o’clock.

Arceau Lift Répétition Minutes © Hermès
Arceau Lift Répétition Minutes © Hermès
IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Retrograde Chronograph

The Portugieser looks to naval deck watches for its highly legible dial. This new model combines a one-minute flying tourbillon, a retrograde date display and a flyback chronograph measuring hours and minutes on a single totaliser at 12 o’clock. In the interests of precision, another quality inherited from marine timepieces, the hacking tourbillon means the movement can be stopped and the time set to the nearest second.

Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronographe © IWC
Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronographe © IWC
Louis Vuitton Tambour Curve Flying Tourbillon Poinçon de Genève

Louis Vuitton has rethought its Tambour design from top to bottom for this new interpretation, which is hallmarked Poinçon de Genève. The case, a mix of convex and concave curves, is made from CarboStratum®, a carbon composite that is exclusive to Louis Vuitton. Geometric openwork in the movement leads the eye towards the flying tourbillon, whose cage takes its shape from Louis Vuitton’s Monogram Flower motif. The brand’s stylised “LV” initials are also incorporated into the movement.

Tambour Curve Tourbillon Volant Poinçon de Genève © Louis Vuitton
Tambour Curve Tourbillon Volant Poinçon de Genève © Louis Vuitton
Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Tourbillon Slate

Shown at the online Watches & Wonders event, Parmigiani Fleurier’s Toric Tourbillon Slate presents a gold case inspired by Ancient Greek Doric columns. The 60-second flying tourbillon, which also carries subsidiary seconds, appears at 7 o’clock through an aperture in the slate grey dial whose entire surface is decorated with barleycorn guillochage. The contrast between this classical aesthetic and the highly technical nature of the regulator is used to stunning effect.

Toric Tourbillon Slate © Parmigiani Fleurier
Toric Tourbillon Slate © Parmigiani Fleurier
Piaget Altiplano Tourbillon green

Piaget celebrated the 60th anniversary of its ultra-thin 9P calibre in 2017 with the unveiling of the Altiplano Flying Tourbillon, another extra-thin watch whose 670P movement measures 4.70mm high. The brand now invites enthusiasts to personalise their model with an array of options in terms of size, case, dial, tourbillon ring, strap and buckle.

Altiplano Tourbillon green © Piaget
Altiplano Tourbillon green © Piaget
Ulysse Nardin Blast rose gold

At Ulysse Nardin, the sculptural forms of the Blast are front and centre. Modelled along the lines of stealth aircraft, it describes itself as “an avatar of its time, made with rock-hard, masculine lines.” A worthy heir to the Executive line, whose transparency it accentuates with the X-shape that reaches across the movement, the Blast’s silicon tourbillon beats at 2.5Hz. Winding is by a micro-rotor, mounted on the barrel, that provides three days of power reserve.

Blast rose gold © Ulysse Nardin
Blast rose gold © Ulysse Nardin
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle tourbillon

Vacheron Constantin proposes its first automatic tourbillon for women. It has the pleasing proportions of a 39mm case in pink gold set with diamonds. Iridescent mother-of-pearl for the dial brings a gently feminine touch while the in-house Calibre 2160, beating at 2.5Hz, ensures impeccable precision for an autonomy of three days.

Traditionnelle tourbillon © Vacheron Constantin
Traditionnelle tourbillon © Vacheron Constantin
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