Despite its age and technological redundancy, watchmakers continue to find new ways to reinvent the tourbillon. In terms of their originality, some of the latest models presented at Baselworld do not disappoint. With just a hint of editorial latitude, I have managed to group them into four and a half categories, all beginning – coincidentally, of course – with the letter T.
Where Breguet trades on its founder’s invention of the tourbillon, Arnold & Son like to remind us that John Arnold was the first to coin the term chronometer, which celebrates its 240th anniversary this year. The brand celebrates this significant milestone with two limited editions of its Tourbillon Chronometer No. 36, one in stainless steel and one in rose gold. An open dial reveals the signature arrangement of the twin barrels and their V-shaped bridges, which give the hand-wound movement a 90-hour power reserve.
Tourbillon Chronomètre N° 36 © Arnold & Son
Cyrus turns the tourbillon on its side. In the new Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon the regulator is found at the centre of the dial and has been rotated through 90 degrees. It creates an entirely new aesthetic for a watch, supported by an imposing arch that spans the entire diameter of the case and is surrounded on either side by retrograde hour and minute scales. The tiny seconds indications on the outer edge of the tourbillon carriage that display the seconds at the very centre of the watch as the tourbillon performs its rotation are the icing on the cake. Its manually wound movement offers an impressive power reserve of 96 hours.
Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon © Cyrus
The bridge between tradition and technology
At first glance the Carl F. Bucherer Manero Tourbillon Double Peripheral seems traditional enough, even if its tourbillon is found in an unusual position at 12 o’clock. But the double peripheral appellation hints at more. To complement the peripheral winding rotor that powers the movement and ensures a 65-hour power reserve, the tourbillon has also been attached peripherally. Unlike a flying tourbillon, which is mounted to the mainplate so that from above it looks like it is hanging in space, the peripheral tourbillon is supported around its circumference by three ceramic ball bearings. As a result it looks like it is suspended in thin air when viewed either from above or below.
Manero Tourbillon Double Peripheral © Carl F. Bucherer
Bell & Ross presents six unique pieces in its BR-X1 tourbillon sapphire collection. To contrast with the totally transparent square case in sapphire crystal, the brand has developed separate movements in black, gold and blue. The same colour is used for the mainplate, bridges, dial, hands and tourbillon carriage in each movement. Only the winding stem, shock absorber and rubies have a different colour. These unique pieces are powered by the Bell & Ross BR-CAL 288, which is manually wound and offers a power reserve of 100 hours. Two of these unique pieces will be sold exclusively online: the BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire Black on the Bell & Ross e-commerce site and the BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire Blue on the online luxury store Mr Porter.
BR-X1 Tourbillon Sapphire Blue © Bell & Ross
You can probably guess that this is where I struggled to find a word beginning with T. The original Jacob & Co. Twin Turbo was already an impressive beast when it was first launched, but the brand has taken it a step further in the aptly-named Twin Turbo Furious. In addition to two triple-axis tourbillons, this watch features a decimal minute repeater and a brand-new chronograph with reference time display inspired by the pit boards in motor racing. If tourbillons are your thing, Jacob & Co. have plenty more, with new versions of the Astronomia Tourbillon, Billionaire Tourbillon, Clandestine Tourbillon and Opera models debuting at Baselworld.
Twin Turbo Furious © Jacob & Co
He asks me (likely rhetorically), “what’s the most important part of a wristwatch?” I am pretty certain I know he wants me to say “the motion,” so that I really do. “Yes,” and he proceeds to explain to me how the design philosophy of the BR X2 watch is all about eliminating what appears like the separation of situation and motion, rather melding it into a single visual thing. Thus, using a steel movement plate between two thick layers of carefully machined sapphire crystal, there is a transparent sapphire case that connects directly to the motion. The result is both visually stunning and rather novel.Bell & Ross does this completely for visual scenery – and it seems to work. When I last struck a concept similar to this, it had been from the Piaget 900P (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here) that merged the motion plate and observe instance in order to generate the thinnest mechanical watch movement on the planet. While the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic is actually thinner-feeling than the brand’s other square-cased “Instrument” watches, it is not about breaking dimension records. More importantly, it’s about looking damn cool while also being something movement nerds can reliably stand behind.Bell & Ross worked together with the Swiss movement maker MHC to be able to produce the movement interior of the Bell & Ross BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor Automatic. The movement is, for the most part, easy (for a tourbillon) and pleasing, offering the time with tourbillon as the seconds index, and automatic winding via a micro-rotor which can be observed on the back of the movement. Bell & Ross utilizes their now signature ampersand emblem on the cage across the varying inertia balance wheel tourbillon mechanism. The tourbillon is decidedly wide in diameter so as to offer an expansive perspective on the dial.