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Breguet - Breguet, inventor of the tourbillon

Breguet Breguet, inventor of the tourbillon

The year 2021 marks the 220th anniversary of one of the greatest watchmaking complications of all times: the Tourbillon

An exquisite mechanism of unrivaled complexity, the tourbillon lies at the heart of a genuine human adventure that, to this day, contributes extensively to the reputation of its creator Abraham-Louis Breguet and his House.

Breguet, inventor of the tourbillon

Tourbillon timepiece © Breguet

An expression of their era, technical inventions rarely maintain their relevance from one century to the next. One innovation replaces another, and as they are swept away by the stream of continual progress, they invariably fade into oblivion. With a few exceptions…

Developed 220 years ago by Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747–1823), the Tourbillon has never been as vital to fine horology as it is today. Regarded as one of the greatest complications of all time, it continues to flourish at the House of Breguet, its custodian. However, it has also been adopted by a number of other watchmaking brands because when Breguet patented it in 1801 it did so for only 10 years! Throughout the 19th century, it inspired other engineers, among them Bahne Bonniksen who, based on the observations made by Breguet, invented the carousel.

Breguet, inventor of the tourbillon

Tourbillon timepiece © Breguet

The fascination with Breguet’s invention derives from its very genesis: The Tourbillon is more than just a mechanical work of art – it is the result of a precise study of physics, a human adventure and an industrial saga in its own right. In 2021, the House of Breguet will commemorate its founder’s ingenuity, and the treasure that is the Tourbillon, through various events and the celebration of a new model on June 26. When the patent was obtained in 1801, the date correlated with the post-revolutionary Republican calendar of France – “7th Messidor of the year IX,” which refers to June 26th on our modern day calendars.


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Breguet’s archives, kept in Switzerland and in Paris, record the developments that have sustained Breguet watchmaking for more than two centuries. The firm is committed to remaining ahead of its time with a flow of inventions and improvements.

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