Breguet Celebrates Over 200 Years of Tourbillon Innovation

Jun 26, 2015
More than 200 years after it was patented, the tourbillon complication is still impressive

This month, Swiss watchmaker Breguet celebrated 214 years since Abraham Louis Breguet first received the patent for the toubillon. Although the patent has long since dissolved, Breguet is still considered the leader in creating this most impressive complication.

The tourbillon, long regarded as the pinnacle of watchmaking, was originally an attempt to improve accuracy in pocket watches. Today, tourbilllons are symbol of status and make any watch face visually stimulating.

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Tourbillon is French for “whirlwind” and the moniker is, at least to the naked eye, very accurate. A tourbillon is basically a balance wheel that rotates in one direction. The idea here is that by continuously moving it will counter the effects of gravity, and thus keep time more accurately.  While modern advancements in watchmaking have revealed more cost effective and accurate means of improving a watch’s reliability, the tourbillon has endured as a worthy addition to any timepiece. Even if it is now mostly aesthetic, the tourbillon is still a beautiful and innovative complication.

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The tourbillon complication is constantly being modified and improved upon by almost every major brand in the industry. Breguet’s current focus is on creating a tourbillon that is both extremely lightweight and durable. Zenith‘s latest creation, the Defy Xtreme Zero-G Tourbillon, features a free-moving tourbillon housing  which always points down, regardless of what crazy position your wrist may be in. Harry Winston has revealed the newest member of the Histoire de Tourbillon family, the Histoire de Tourbillon 6, which features a prominent, fast-moving, triple-axis tourbillon along with a power reserve indicator and chronograph function. Both TAG Heuer and Raymond Weil have plans to release their own budget-friendly tourbillon-clad timepieces later this year.

All in all, more than 200 years after it was made, it’s clear this complication isn’t going anywhere. Regardless of it’s actual functionality, the tourbillon is both visually appealing and innovative; if nothing else, it is a great conversation piece for true watch aficionados.


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