An Introduction To Complications: The Tourbillon

An Introduction To Complications: The Tourbillon


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.

Editor’s note: This is part three in a series of introductory pieces on watches from our friends at Hodinkee. You can read part one here and part two here.

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
Invention Piece 2


muscle controlled Iron Man repulsor



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