Harry Winston Histoire De Tourbillon 5: Myth Or Reality?
We’ve all heard of elusive creatures lurking in a forest. Imagine your surprise while walking into a shaded clearing between the redwoods on a hike in the northern Sierra Nevada mountain range and finding the infamous creature known as Bigfoot just standing there.
You might just have a panic attack.
Sasquatch to some and an offshoot of Gigantopithecus to select cryptozooligists, Bigfoot has become a legend around the world, as has its cousin in Nepal, the Yeti. Both are described as large bi-pedal hominids of humanoid-ape appearance, and their existence has proven extremely difficult to document, and by extension, confirm.
To believers, this is because they have become so good at eluding threats that they can remain hidden, leaving no trace of their existence.
To the skeptical, this is because grown men walking around wearing gorilla costumes in the forest wouldn’t leave the type of evidence required to prove the reality of such beings.
I do not generally take a stand on the matter; though I will admit that the evidence does seem to indicate a hoax over the less likely possibility that there is a small group of hairy, apelike creatures roaming the Pacific Northwest. But this does bring us to an interesting topic: the sometimes difficult ability to prove the existence of something without corroborated sightings with valid documentation and the ability to produce evidence on demand.
For this reason, things like ESP (extra-sensory perception) and remote-viewing, not to mention telekinetic abilities, have been dismissed for years as conjecture or downright fraud. There is simply no way to reliably prove their existence beside anecdotal evidence.
There are also things that exist only as mathematical theories with no real way of testing them (string theory, the multiverse) so that while they provide researchers with lifetimes’ worth of thought problems combined with complex equations, they provide no testable predictions based on current science.
Again, this does not dismiss the theories as false, simply that they are not provable right now.
Provability due to lack of exposure
Sometimes, provability problems exist for objects that really do happen to be real, but are difficult to access and verify. Even the people who are supposed to have first dibs at seeing these objects must question their existence at times.
One elusive creature that has been hard to pin down for certain was the most recent amazing creation from Harry Winston: the Histoire de Tourbillon 5.
Technically debuted at Baselworld 2014, the Histoire de Tourbillon 5 was what I would call a ghost in the machine…and for good reason. After Harry Winston’s Jewelry and Timepiece division was purchased by the Swatch Group back in January of 2013, many cried the death of the Opus series and probably the Histoire de Tourbillon franchise as well, since this did not seem to fit into a larger Swatch Group strategy for the brand.
So far this has seemingly proven to be true. There was no new announcement of an Opus 14 for 2014 (and still nothing), and when the Histoire de Tourbillon 5 was announced, the press was only shown renderings. There was very little exposure in the media that I was able to see.
After Baselworld 2014 came and went, I did not see anything from Harry Winston and no one seemed to be covering it. Which could mean that nobody had seen it.
Chances of the Histoire de Tourbillon 5 existing were becoming slimmer.
As such, nine months went by before I heard a single peep about the Histoire de Tourbillon 5, at which time I saw a wrist shot (an actual, live wrist shot) on Instagram!
Needless to say, I was excited and confused since I had pretty much given up on the timepiece and any hopes of future horological wonders from Harry Winston.
So we reached out again and, as they say, “Ask and ye shall receive!”
Ask and ye shall receive
Press release, photos, and a sense of accomplishment washed over me because at least it was real and I wasn’t insane for hoping it was true. I can only imagine how Bigfoot believers would feel if the creature was really found and documented. I’m guessing triumphant.
So now that we know that the Histoire de Tourbillon 5 isn’t a hypothetical creature lost to time and remembered in lore, what makes it so amazing? Well, it still may very well be the last of the Histoire de Tourbillon series and the last of any great horological wonders to come out of Harry Winston for the foreseeable future.
But beside that, it actually is a pretty cool timepiece with a dash of Greubel Forsey (case and tourbillon), MB&F (bridges and layout), and Grönefeld (case and design) all rolled into one.
It all begins from the outside going in. The original purpose of the collection was to explore the crazier side of the tourbillon from case through to mechanism. This timepiece’s predecessors have been interesting: starting mild with the Histoire de Tourbillon 1 and probably peaking at the wild Histoire de Tourbillon 3 with a square case overlaid with a composite circle shape resembling a pulley.
The most recent Histoire de Tourbillon 5 takes some inspiration from Greubel Forsey’s asymmetrical cases and has the tourbillon bulging out from the case band of an otherwise round case, departing from all previous design cues for the series.
Bulging at the seams
This is something that has been growing on me as a design choice and I rather like it. If not for the complexity that it adds to the case and the ability of the movement to use the space it truly needs, then for the fact that it allows you to wear a generally normal-shaped watch that also stands out when someone sees it.
Many wild pieces stand out (the MB&F HM4 comes to mind), but not many immediately stand out while being entirely wearable. Histoire de Tourbillon 5 does both very successfully thanks to housing the tri-axial tourbillon partially in a case band protrusion, which allows for a smaller case diameter.
The tri-axial tourbillon is something that some readers may remember as the reason I became a WIS in the first place (For more information on that, please see The Mechanism That Sparked A Passion: Thank Heavens For The Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon.) So, naturally, I can’t help but drool over a new model.
The first multi-axis tourbillon appeared in this series in the Histoire de Tourbillon 2 with a bi-axial mechanism and jumped to a third axis for the tourbillon with the release of the Histoire de Tourbillon 4. No. 5 is the second iteration of the tri-axial tourbillon and my favorite of the Histoire series.
The majority of the bridges in the Histoire de Tourbillon 5 are pure titanium, with two notable exceptions. First, the three-dimensional bridges for the tri-axial tourbillon are made of PVD-coated nickel silver, and the intermediate carriage of the tourbillon is made of 18-karat white gold to provide better balance for the titanium carriages.
Speaking of the tourbillon carriages, they revolve in 45 seconds, 75 seconds, and 300 seconds respectively, moving from the center carriage outward. It’s just like the Histoire series to shy away from a “boring” old 60-second tourbillon.
As well as the very interesting dance of the tri-axial tourbillon, there is a lot of visual interest in this piece. Two off-center skeletonized discs display hours and minutes, with a small indicator on the tourbillon showing the running seconds (all 300 of them for a single revolution of the outer cage).
There is also a power reserve indicator in the upper left corner, otherwise known as “the most useful complication ever made.” At least in my book.
Culmination of the Histoire de Tourbillon series
The dial is cut away in many places, allowing for a fun look at the movement but not seeming too much like a skeleton watch (which is sometimes a smart move).
The back of the movement is very spartan with only three plates and some carefully-placed cutouts for a glimpse into the movement beyond.
It’s clear that the party is up front, and anyone spending any time back there is missing the point. I like depth and intricacy to a movement, and I like looking at it from both sides, but in this case, I don’t find the need to stare at the case back after being spoiled by what has been positioned front and (slightly off-) center.
The sapphire crystals are interesting as they depart from some brands’ desire to have one large complicatedly machined piece, opting instead for a shaped piece to cover the dial and a single shaped dome to cover the multi-axis tourbillon. This has the added benefit of being less risky to produce, since machining large, complex sapphire crystals is a tricky business.
Some companies spend hundreds of hours on intricate crystal shapes only to have them shatter with nothing left to show. Keeping the parts in two pieces means the scrap rate for each one will be much lower since you don’t need to machine a perfectly flat sapphire as part of the same piece as the dome. Instead, the engineers can focus on the machining for the dome as its own operation.
All in all, I think the Histoire de Tourbillon 5 is the culmination of the Histoire series, and if it is to be the last, then it is good that it is by far the best. It takes the complication to the farthest reaches and rounds out the design to a more cohesive whole.
I see inspiration from some of my other favorite pieces inside the Histoire de Tourbillon 5, which seals the deal for me on this piece.
Now I need to keep my fingers crossed that during the corporate reorganization and restructuring that the Opus and Histoire series do not go gently into that good night, because that would be a tragic loss. They both have helped shape a current market of extremely interesting timepieces coming out around the world. Let’s keep that trend going!
And then let’s move on to the breakdown!
• Wowza Factor * 8.64 The tri-axial tourbillon is always a wow piece, and knowing it might be the last from Harry Winston makes it even more special.
• Late Night Lust Appeal * 101.23 » 992.727m/s2 More than ten to the power of two, this thing has a lot of force to keep you planted in your seat all night to lust away.
• M.G.R. * 63.6 Amazing movement due to the inclusion of titanium everything and that other little addition, something I think is called a “tri-axial tourbillon?” Worth a look.
• Added-Functionitis * Moderate Power reserve, the good old boy. Everybody likes one and for good reason: it is a real benefit. I recommend normal-strength the Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the comfortable horological swelling.
• Ouch Outline * 10.55 – Slicing your neck while shaving…with a dull blade. Almost every grown man and woman probably knows this pain and all like to avoid it. It just stings, man! But, if it meant this piece would be on my wrist, I would gladly endure the slice!
• Mermaid Moment * Three minutes of twirling magic! Three-minute tri-axial tourbillon. ‘Nuff said.
• Awesome Total * 840 Double the time it takes for all the carriages to rotate after being added together, suitable for such a piece!
For more information, please visit www.harrywinston.com.
Case: 47 x 21.7 mm (dome height), rose gold
Movement: manually wound Caliber HW4303 with triple-axis tourbillon
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve