About Tourbillon Watches
Known for their hypnotic, “open heart” look, tourbillon watches typically have an exposed aperture on the dial so that collectors and enthusiasts alike can marvel at the intricacy of these whirling mechanisms. Tourbillon, French for whirlwind, is a watch element that increases accuracy and negates the negative effects gravity has on a watch. Its origins are from the era of the pocket watch, which typically remained in two positions – vertical when in one’s pocket, or horizontal, when placed on a table. This is where gravity comes into play, as the prolonged vertical orientation dragged the balance spring of the watch, thus affecting its ability to keep precise time.
Watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet came to this realization in the late 1700s, and his solution was to mount the escapement and balance wheel in a slow, rotating cage, preventing gravity from pulling the spring too far in one direction. And thus, the first tourbillon watches were invented around 1795.
Whereas the tourbillon is not considered as “useful” as it was when pocket watches were the norm, the tourbillon is indeed valued for its engineering and design principles. Many Swiss luxury watch models and brands offer tourbillon models in their repertoire, boosting these pieces to the pinnacle of timekeeping perfection. Explore brilliant, unique tourbillon watches from luxury watch brands like F.P. Journe, Jaeger-LeCoultre, De Bethune, and more.
Various Types of Tourbillon Watches
Advancing tourbillon watches’ accuracy has been the mission of many watchmakers for decades, leading to groundbreaking developments in the way they operate. Discover the three main categories of tourbillon watches to learn more.
Traditional and Single-Axis Tourbillon
Coveted for their mechanical artistry and beauty, traditional and single-axis tourbillon watches are a continuation of the historical art and craftsmanship of tourbillon mechanisms. Traditional and single-axis tourbillons use what is called a bridge to hold it in place. Discover these tourbillon watches from luxury watch brands like F. P. Journe’s Souverain Vertical Tourbillon and De Bethune’s DB28 “Kind of Blue”.
Multi Axis Tourbillons and Flying Tourbillons
Double-axis tourbillon watches revolve around two axes, both rotating once per minute. Haute Horlogerie developed the first flying double axis tourbillon in a pocket watch — a flying tourbillon is cantilevered and only supported from one side, rather than being supported at both the top and bottom. Lastly in this section are triple-axis tourbillon watches. These timepieces have a uniquely nested third cage that provides the space for the tourbillon mechanism to rotate along multiple axes. Find rare multi-axis tourbillon models from watch brands like Girard-Perregaux’s Planetarium Tri-Axial Tourbillon Earth To Sky and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3.
Double & Quadruple Tourbillons
Greubel Forsey introduced the first of its kind with the Double Tourbillon 30°, including one tourbillon carriage rotating once per minute and inclined at 30 degrees, which is then located inside another carriage that rotates once every four minutes. These tourbillon watches are masterful at solving horological complexities—discover our full suite of Greubel Forsey Tourbillon wristwatches to witness this firsthand.
Explore More Tourbillon Watches
Did you know that Bulgari released the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch with the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon? It’s 11-jewel movement is only 1.95mm thick and boasts a power reserve of 55 hours. Tourbillon watches continue to fascinate collectors and wearers as they represent picturesque windows into the watchmaker’s process, displaying the solution to one of horology’s most complex challenges—gravity. Interested in learning more about tourbillon watches before you decide to purchase one? Read a review of Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak Tourbillon in this article. Or, peruse the inner workings of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme Tourbillon. If you currently own tourbillon watches and you’re considering a trade, learn more about the process and benefits of trading before you proceed.