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Trends - Which tourbillons made the biggest impression in 2021?

Trends Which tourbillons made the biggest impression in 2021?

The countdown has begun to wave goodbye to 2021 and say hi to 2022. Before then, we look back at a year that celebrated the 220th anniversary of the tourbillon. Here are the ones that put us in a spin. Maybe your favourites are in there

“You spin me right round baby right round…” is the tune you find yourself humming as you let yourself be hypnotised by its endless rotations. It? The tourbillon, of course. A mechanism whose history and ingenuity have enchanted aficionados of fine watchmaking for 220 years*. For the celebration this year of 22 decades since Abraham-Louis Breguet patented his mechanical marvel, brands have imagined a multitude of interpretations of this legendary complication.

The classics

Breguet himself made just 35 tourbillons in his lifetime… a mere drop in the ocean of mechanisms coming out of the Manufactures this year. In homage to his genius, Breguet the brand has limited the number of Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Anniversaire 5365 to 35 pieces, scrupulously respecting the elegance and refinement of the watches of that period. The gold dial, for example, is decorated with different engine-turned patterns, all executed by hand. The Clous de Paris design in the centre is so finely chiselled it creates the illusion of a matte finish, in contrast with the brighter surface of the hour chapter. Contained inside a slim, 41mm case in pink gold, the 60-second tourbillon is positioned between 4 and 6 o’clock. Connoisseurs will observe that the tourbillon’s upper bridge is made from blued steel to complement the off-centre, open-tipped hands: a first for a tourbillon in the Classique family.

Quels tourbillons vous ont le plus marqués en 2021 ?

Classic Tourbillon Extra Plat Anniversaire © Breguet

Jaeger-LeCoultre unveiled its equally classic Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 at Watches and Wonders 2021. The first ever watch with four faces, this impressive technical tour de force showcases 11 complications. Alongside indications for the instantaneous perpetual calendar and large date on the first face, a flying tourbillon sits at the 7 o’clock position where the beauty of this mechanism, which ensures the watch’s constant precision, can take pride of place.

Nothing to hide

Several brands this year succumbed to the temptation to reveal the tourbillon in all its glory, in particular the rare few that have developed the expertise and technology to machine cases out of sapphire. Hublot, well-known for its engineering of innovative materials and the creative possibilities they allow, is at the vanguard of this technology, having introduced the Big Bang Unico Sapphire in 2016. This year it has upped the ante with a case and an integrated bracelet in sapphire that swathe its new automatic Tourbillon movement, complete with sapphire bridges, in absolute transparency.

Which tourbillons made the biggest impression in 2021?

Big Bang Unico Sapphire © Hublot

Louis Vuitton has taken a similar route for the Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon Poinçon de Genève. Residing inside a blue, pink or transparent sapphire case, the in-house manual-winding movement hides not a single facet of its anatomy, instead choosing to flaunt its flying tourbillon, set with a delicate Monogram flower. Nor does this display of theatricality place aesthetics above mechanical prowess, as the watch is hallmarked with the prestigious Poinçon de Genève.

Subvert tradition

It has to be said: for many watch devotees, style is almost as important as substance; a fact borne out by the extraordinary diversity of interpretations on offer this year. Particularly worthy of interest, given how seldom a tourbillon is designed for a woman’s wrist, is the Legacy Machine FlyingT Allegra with its carpet of diamonds and coloured gems, created hand-in-hand by MB&F and Bvlgari. Or the RM 71-02 Automatic Winding Tourbillon Talisman, presented early in the year by Richard Mille, which transplants this centuries-old complication into a riot of coloured stones that capture the energy and glamour of the 1970s.

Which tourbillons made the biggest impression in 2021?

Legacy Machine FlyingT Allegra © MB&F x Bulgari

Certain brands truly let their imagination run wild this year. As though to remind us that this invention is as alive and vibrant as ever, Jacob & Co puts the tourbillon at the heart of the three-dimensional spectacle played out inside the imposing case of the Astronomia Tourbillon Art Skulls. Setting the scene for the bi-axial tourbillon of this horological memento mori are skulls and bones sculpted from 45 grams of pink gold.

Over at Louis Moinet, the tourbillon is the star of a choreography in deep space. The concept behind the eight-piece limited edition Space Revolution? Six elements — two spaceships, two tourbillons and two tourbillon cages — are engaged in perpetual movement onboard an impressive sapphire vessel, mounted on a 43mm pink gold base. While the cages make a full rotation every 60 seconds, the two satellite tourbillons orbit the dial at high speed and in opposite directions, crossing paths 18 times an hour. The result is an intense visual drama that is as much mechanical art as it is a work of pure science fiction.

Which tourbillons made the biggest impression in 2021?

Space Revolution © Louis Moinet

In among the extravagant interpretations and others that choose the subdued aesthetic of more traditional attire, certain tourbillons pave a way that reconciles past, present and future. Starting with the DB Kind of Two Tourbillon by De Bethune, winner of the Tourbillon Prize at the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. The front of this reversible watch, just ten of which will be made, features a tourbillon at 6 o’clock with a 30-second indication, packaged in a sleek and contemporary design, while the reverse side opts for classic elegance. The result is a watch with a dual personality whose two sides are a reminder of the thousand and one aspects this 220-year-old complication can take.

*Documenting the past 20 years of the tourbillon with all there is to know about this invention, GMT Magazine and WorldTempus have published The Millennium Watch Book - Tourbillons. Richly illustrated and expertly written, it is available in French and English from the-watch-book.com

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