What is a tourbillon watch?
In horology, a tourbillon (/tʊərˈbɪljən/; French: [tuʁbijɔ̃] “whirlwind”) is an addition to the mechanics of a watch escapement. Developed around 1795 and patented by the French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet on June 26, 1801, a tourbillon aims to counter the effects of gravity by mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage, to negate the effect of gravity when the timepiece (thus the escapement) is stuck in a certain position.
Tourbillon Watch History
Back in the day when pocket watches were at every gent’s reach, the watches were usually kept up straight in their pockets, vertically, or lying horizontally on the table.
Due to the mechanics of the clocks at the time, this lack of movement and imbalance of gravity took its toll with the springs inside the watches causing them oscillate at irregular patterns.
The tourbillon system made to counteract the gravity effect on watches allowed the watches to be more durable and precise.
But with wristwatches, it’s a different story. The hand offers constant movement thus countering the gravity effect naturally therefor making the tourbillon system redundant. The traditional escapement of a wristwatch is more accurate than a tourbillon.
Why are tourbillon watches expensive?
Tourbillon watches can average between $50,000 and $100,000, though these numbers are frequently rising. The reason they are so expensive is that they are amongst the most difficult handmade watches to make.
Horologers spend over 18 months and use more than 40 pieces of aluminum and titanium to craft a tourbillon millimeters big that weigh just under a gram.
Of course here at I-Gentleman, we don’t have any proper $50,000 tourbillon watches for you, but we do have watches that are based on a similar replicate system because it’s nice to be fancy!