The most spectacular watchmaking complication, the tourbillon, is available today in countless different variations. Here is a rather special selection
Invented in 1801 by watchmaking genius Abraham-Louis Breguet, the purpose of the tourbillon escapement was to combat the negative effects of gravity on the precision of a pocket watch. Today, the continuous motion of the tourbillon in its cage provides a striking visual spectacle on the dial of a wristwatch. The history of this exceptional mechanism is described in detail in The Millennium Watch Book: Tourbillons, published by GMT Publishing. Here is a preview of some of the finest.
Patek Philippe: CHF 1,500,000
Ever since Patek Philippe began producing tourbillons, the brand’s signature execution has been to pair the complication with others. This extraordinary example features a plethora of functions arranged around the tourbillon, on two dials, located on both sides of the case.
6002R Grande Complication © Patek Philippe
6002R Grande Complication Double Face in rose gold, 44 mm in diameter, hand-wound tourbillon movement with, on the front side, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, moon phase, and on the back, sidereal time, sky chart, phases and orbit of the moon. Alligator strap.
Jaeger-LeCoultre: CHF 430,000
A supremely elegant piece with off-centre hours and minutes and a partially skeletonised calibre. The gyrotourbillon rotates around more than one axis, unlike the classic tourbillon, which revolves around a single axis. In this way, the complication negates the effects of gravity by cancelling it out in every possible direction.
Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon © Jaeger-LeCoultre
Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 Jubilée in platinum, 43.5 mm diameter, hand-wound tourbillon movement with off-centre hours and minutes, large second, large date, day-night indicator, alligator strap. Limited series of 75.
Breguet: CHF 185,300
This tourbillon has to be one of the most special, since the mechanism was invented by the brand’s founder. This highly contemporary interpretation provides an overall view of the 542 components of the 569 movement with silicon balance spring. The execution of the off-centre dial in blued gold with handcrafted guillochage is particularly refined.
Tradition 7047 © Breguet
Tradition 7047 in platinum, 41 mm diameter, hand-wound tourbillon movement with off-centre hours and minutes, alligator strap.
Vacheron Constantin: CHF 179,000
The tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock on the sapphire dial creates a superb visual effect. Every detail of the skeletonised manufacture calibre, assembled from 186 components and offering an 80-hour power reserve, is visible. A bonus is the ability to swap between a metal bracelet, a leather strap and a third rubber strap without the need for tools.
Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton © Vacheron Constantin
Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton in titanium, 42.5 mm diameter, automatic tourbillon movement, interchangeable bands in titanium, leather or rubber.
Chanel: CHF 94,000
The jeweller’s art in the service of watchmaking savoir-faire. The Calibre 5, a movement developed and assembled at the Chanel manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, offers a tourbillon cage set with diamonds, with a central solitaire diamond that performs one complete rotation around its own axis every minute, for a guaranteed hypnotic effect.
J12 Diamond Tourbillon © Chanel
J12 Diamond Tourbillon in ceramic, 38 mm diameter, hand-wound tourbillon movement, ceramic bracelet. Limited series of 55.
Zenith: CHF 79,000
This is one of the sportiest tourbillons on the market. Combined with a chronograph function, it also uses light and strong carbon for the case, and rubber for the strap, all while providing exceptional mechanics with the famous El Primero calibre in a skeletonised version, complete with two tourbillon escapements.
Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon © Zenith
Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon in rose gold and carbon, 45 mm diameter, tourbillon movement with chronograph function, rubber strap.
Cartier CHF 77,000
Highly recognisable thanks to its powerful graphic codes, its chained crown and original design, the Pasha has enchanted fine watch lovers since its creation in 1985. This tourbillon version, driven by the 9552 MC manufacture movement, is one of the complications that is most sought-after by collectors.
Pasha Tourbillon © Cartier
Pasha Tourbillon in rose gold, 41 mm diameter, hand-wound tourbillon movement, alligator strap.
Louis Vuitton CHF 69,500
This ultra-contemporary interpretation combines titanium and rubber with a dial whose carbon base is visible through a black grid. Its architecture is structured around the symmetry between the tourbillon cage at 9 o’clock and the auxiliary GMT dial at 3 o’clock.
Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon © Louis Vuitton
Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon in titanium, 46 mm diameter, automatic tourbillon movement with second time zone, rubber strap.
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...Find out more >
Characterised by audacity and inventiveness, Cartier’s watchmaking history reflects a unique state of mind: “jeweller of kings and king of jewellers”. Its renown is bound up in the tradition of...Find out more >
Through her life, Gabrielle Chanel embodied strength, character and a fierce desire for independence. Maison CHANEL, avant-garde and constantly innovative, has come down through the decades to...Find out more >
Jaeger-LeCoultre: HOME OF FINE WATCHMAKING SINCE 1833. Located in the serene setting of the Vallée de Joux, our Maison radiates a unique sense of belonging. The soul of La Grande Maison is formed...Find out more >
Twenty years ago, Louis Vuitton boldly ventured into the world of watchmaking with the unveiling of the Tambour watch. Since, the Maison has dreamt up a growing collection of innovative timepieces...Find out more >
Patek Philippe enjoys outstanding renown and rare prestige, due to the constancy with which the Manufacture has applied its philosophy of excellence ever since it was founded.Find out more >
An exploration of the history of Vacheron Constantin is a voyage of discovery, revealing the excellence of age-old watchmaking. Each timepiece is the result of the creative inspiration of the...Find out more >
Ever since it was founded, Zenith has been cultivating the ability to open up new horizons by assisting with some of the most remarkable human achievements.Find out more >