Let’s face it, there are a lot of well-engineered and beautiful inventions that you wouldn’t exactly call useful (here’s a good example). In watchmaking, the pinnacle expression of such a creation has got to be the tourbillon.
Developed in the late 18th century by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the tourbillon’s original purpose was to counter the effects of gravity on the escapement of a pocket watch. Because it sat upright in your pocket all day, the spring was stretched unnaturally by gravity, so putting it in a gently spinning cage prevented deformation and inaccuracy over time. But now we wear our watches on our wrists and this just isn’t a problem anymore.
That hasn’t stopped a cult of the tourbillon from developing though. It’s a beautiful thing to behold and has that charm that only old-world mechanics have. Traditionally the rotating cage makes a full revolution every 60 seconds (though not always) and it often doubles as the running seconds hand.
Duomètre à SphérotourbillonMikrotourbillonSFlying Triple Axis
muscle controlled Iron Man repulsor
HODINKEE is a robust online magazine featuring in-depth reviews, critiques and reports on watches of a particularly high calibre.