Give Me Five! Tourbillons From SIHH 2015
by Ian Skellern
Technically speaking, “complication” is a mechanism in a watch that provides an indication other than hours, minutes, and seconds.
Keeping that in mind, a tourbillon is a type of escapement and not a real complication. Tourbillons are not only quite complicated in themselves – some more complicated than others – they come in a very wide variety of shapes, sizes, and functionality.
Here are five tourbillons presented at the SIHH 2015 by Cartier, Greubel Forsey, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Parmigiani, and Roger Dubuis.
A tourbillon cage usually rotates around its own axis once per minute, however, in the Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon Skeleton, the tourbillon rotates around the whole dial every minute. Skeletonization adds understatement to this ephemeral movement.
While Greubel Forsey is more generally known for very complicated timepieces, the Tourbillon 24-Secondes Vision is deliberately minimalistic, which focuses the viewer’s attention on the animated tourbillon. The apparent simplicity of the dial belies how much work went into its realization: the numerals and chapter ring markers around the dial and around the small seconds have been engraved in the gold dial then filled with oven-fired enamel. A transparent dome on the case back houses the reverse side of the 24-second tourbillon and allows for a much thinner case size.
The flying tourbillon on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication doesn’t just rotate the escapement, it actually rotates around the sky chart on the dial itself to indicate sidereal time (time based on other stars rather than just our own). A small golden sun (at 5:30 on the image above) rotates counterclockwise around the dial as a 24-hour (day/night) indicator. Silicon components in the escapement are both lightweight and do not require lubrication to maximize reliability and precision.
The Parmigiani Ovale Tourbillon features a 30-second tourbillon and a 7-day power reserve. But those numbers don’t do justice to the elegant beauty of the sculptured oval case. While available with either a black mother-of-pearl or silver dial, this unique piece has a blue lapis lazuli dial contrasting nicely against the red gold case, numerals and indexes.
While two isn’t necessarily better than one when it comes to tourbillons (or even flying tourbillons), the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Double Flying Tourbillon displays the incredible complexity of the movement with nearly everything open to full view, including the winding/setting mechanism at 3 o’clock and mainspring at 12 o’clock.