The Breguet Tourbillon

Published June 30, 2021, 1:59 PM

by Joe Priela

Defying gravity since 1801

Somewhere in life’s journey, one perceives that every myth has its origin. In 1801, a man named Abraham-Louis Breguet developed the Tourbillion. Originally tailored for pocket watches, this complication was born to overcome positional errors found in mechanical watches while being worn. It is made to correct the issue of gravity impacting pocket watches which, by their nature, hung straight down in such a way that this force could impact their accuracy. He is certainly the godfather of modern watchmaking and the brand certainly hasn’t slacked with 220 years on its back.

Abraham-Louis Breguet

According to the major dictionaries of the 19th century, the word “tourbillon” referred either to the energy that causes the rotation of the planets around the sun, or to a planetary system and to its rotation on a single axis. When you look at the timepiece, it’s not that hard to see, having the balance-and-spring assembly together with the escapement housed in a rotating carriage performing one complete turn per minute.

Patent of the Tourbillon (photo from Breguet)

Currently, Breguet watches are made in the Swiss region of Vallée de Joux, the center of advanced mechanical horology. Its artisans, driven by the same enthusiasm as their founder, create timepieces that marries the brand’s origins and a vision of its future.

The Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette (Photo from Breguet)

Enter the newest addition to horological history, the Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette. With complete sublimation, it exhibits what their house has to offer. In the metal, or should I say Platinum or Rose Gold, the case design and dimensions are nothing but impressive. Wearing at 41mm, 7.7mm thin, it’s far from being bulky as it slips under dress cuffs with no effort. Witnessing the movement is as easy as looking at the time, recognizing the skeletonized dial revealing one of its thinnest automatic winding Tourbillon at just 3mm thin.

The timepiece on the wrist (Photo from Prestige, Hong Kong)

One could say that, in the modern day, the main advantage of the Tourbillon is no longer needed because watches are worn on the wrist and smartwatches can do the same. Mechanical watchmaking, however, is more than that. It sends a distinct message that the wearer values artisanship and horology. It is about the appreciation of art, design, craftsmanship, and longevity—and is one you can pass through generations.