History – Tourbillon Watches

February 15th, 2012 | 1 Comment

Out of all the complicated mechanical watch advancements, the history of the tourbillon may be the most interesting. Tourbillon is French for “whirlwind” which accurately describes its incredible mechanics. A tourbillon aims to counter the effects of gravity by mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage. This negates the effect of gravity when the timepiece is stuck in a certain position.

Usually tourbillons are too expensive for the average watch buyer and are rarely seen in person. But when you are able to hold and examine a tourbillon watch in person their craftsmanship is apparent. Tourbillon history dates back to the 18th century and was originally created to improve accuracy of marine chronometers. Its creation stems from the days of the pocket watch and sailors in particular depended on the accuracy of the tourbillon to guide them safely home. Of course a huge variable in creating a tourbillon watch is gravity. Depending on the position of the watch the balance wheel will be effected. If the watch is in a vertical position, the earth’s gravity will affect the watch’s balance causing a gain or loss in accuracy.

Abraham-Louis Breguet submitted a patent for the tourbillon watch in 1801 yet this mechanism wasn’t applied to wristwatches until 1930. This presented a new problem for the mechanism since wristwatches do not maintain steady vertical positions. With over 200 years of tourbillon history this feature is close to perfection. A tourbillon watch compensates for errors that occur which increases its accuracy, thus elevating the art of watch making and the complexity of the craft.

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  2. By Jenna on Feb 16, 2012

    My Husband would love to wear an Orient Watch, they’re so chic!

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