Tourbillon

tourbillon
tourbillon

Tourbillon (French Tourbillon – “whirlwind”, “rotation”) – is one of the most prestigious and still the most mysterious and fascinating functions; it was invented all but two hundred and ten years ago by the watchmaker of genius Abraham-Louis Breguet. Perhaps, it was not only one to find out such a curious regularity: the watch being in vertical position (it was the period of pocket watches) had some problems with rate accuracy; of course, there were dozens of gifted watchmakers of the past wishing to solve this problem. Nevertheless it was Abraham-Louis Breguet, who holds the patent for the invention of Tourbillon – the device countering the effect of gravity by mounting the escapement and balance wheel in rotating cage and negating the effect of gravity when the watch is rotated

The watchmaker got the patent for Tourbillon invention in the year of 1801 and as we come to know in the documents of Breguet Company there were being manufactured about 50 pieces of the pocket watches, equipped with this amazing mechanism, within the period from 1805 to 1823.

What was the uniqueness of this invention? The watchmaker had made the balance, performing only oscillating motion before, revolve on its axis while the balance frequency decrease was compensated by its increase on the coming turn. To solve this purely technical problem Breguet set on the separately rotating frame the balance axis support and the trigger necessary to transfer the force. Trigger, consisting of lever fork and lever wheels, broke the rotation of gearwheels and made it interrupted.

The rotary motion of the lever wheel transformed into oscillatory movement of the lever fork, which in its turn imparted impulse to the balance. Thus, from every one-tooth movement of the lever wheel the balance got the impulse and deflected until the counteraction of balance hairsprings didn’t stop. Tourbillon, invented by Breguet, consisted of rotating two-part framework (the same for rotor, frame or cage) where had balance, lever fork and lever wheel on. The whole body of this complex structure was fixed on the second wheel axis and made it rotate with 1 rotation per minute.

Tourbillon
Tourbillon

During the last twenty years there have been manufactured more tourbillons than during two centuries since its invention. Of course, the problem of watch operation in the vertical position is not quite actual these days and is practically over due to the development of micromechanics and electronics.

But to become the leader among the manufacturers of watches with tourbillon is a cherished dream of many and many watchmaking companies and independent watch manufacturers, which can be compared only with high professional competency recognition and gaining the title of a leader in the watch Olympus. Among such noble manufacturers are such famous trademarks, as Breguet (it is the top in the list founder of the “project”), Frank Muller, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Girard-Peiregam, Patek Philippe.

It’s rather unnoticeable, but the number of tourbillon supliers becomes greater and greater day by day. Among them are Nouvelle Lemania. factories (its tourbillons decorate the watches by Breguet)), Renaud & Papi (Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, Vacheron Constantin), Cris?ophe Clare(Bovet, Cartier, Conim,Jorg Hysek, Ulysse Nardin, etc.). Here we should also mention watchmaking companies, making tourbillon at their own manufactures.

One of the major disadvantages of tourbillon is its fragility. To disable the framework slack, but sharp stroke (for example, by a fist on the table in frustration) is enough. If you have the tourbillon watch on your wrist right at that time, the feeling of frustration will be incredibly deeper.

Side by side with the standard tourbillons the modern watch wizards create watch complicated with the other functional modules such as, for instance, tourbillons with manual winding and chronograph, tourbillons with manual winding and rate supply indicator, skeletonized tourbillons with manual winding, tourbillons with a minute repeater, automatic tourbillons, fly tourbillons (rotor is fixed only from one side).

Tourbillon Revolution
Tourbillon Revolution

Truly revolutionary was the appearance of Tourbillon Revolution 2 by Frank Muller, which rotor rotates around two axes (one rotation per minute around one axis – it’s quite habitual; and one rotation per eight minutes – around the second one). This masterpiece could be confidently called the quintessence of the contemporary “tourbillon-making”, which is the high art for the sake of watchmaking art.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *