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Tourbillon...

Tourbillon

Moser X MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon Ref 1810-1201, Limited Edition of 15 pieces

The tourbillon is one of the most fascinating horological complications with origins dating back to the late 16th century. It is basically a mechanism that improves the precision of a watch by having the escapement placed within a carriage that rotates completely on its own axis. 

The revolution of the mobile carriage allows positional errors caused by gravity on the escapement to be cancelled or averaged out, resulting in a more constant rate. In other words, higher timing accuracy can be achieved, most notably so for timepieces such as pocket watches which are kept mostly upright in a vertical position.

Invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747 to 1823) in 1795, the tourbillon was patented in 1801. A French word, tourbillon means “whirlpool” or “whirlwind” when translated to English. Tourbillon is a term used to describe typhoons, hurricanes and tornados. It can also be taken to mean “violent rotation”. 


The Tourbillon is reconstruct to feature a cylindrical hairspring.

However, in horology, the tourbillon term has no link whatsoever to storms. That is simply because such violent forces of nature do not pair well with the calm and regularity of this mechanical wonder. The tourbillon term coined by Breguet came from astronomy. Used by French astronomers and philosophers, tourbillon or vortex referred to a planetary system and its rotation around a single axis.

Tourbillons are highly complex mechanisms. The first commercial tourbillon was produced in 1805. Between 1805 and 1823, only 35 tourbillons were sold. The tourbillon carriages made by Breguet completed one revolution in either 60 seconds, two minutes, four minutes or six minutes. 

Though the tourbillon does not feature a horological indication, it is still widely regarded as a complication. Bear in mind that the tourbillon is a complex mechanism and eliminates the rate errors in a watch.