3 New Tourbillons From Watches & Wonders 2020: A Pursuit Of Personal Passion
by Martin Green
As a watch journalist that makes a living out of the pursuit, I sometimes write about watches that I feel less passionate about. Usually, that is not a problem for professional writers as we have learned to push our own convictions to the side as best we can and to write in an objective manner.
Especially during the fairs, digital or not, there is a lot to be written. And as fortunate as I count myself, assessing the sheer quantity of watches launched at the fairs can very much feel like a job. But the compensation is articles like this one, where I am able to select watches that have impressed me both professionally and personally.
Here are three intriguing tourbillons from the digital Watches & Wonders 2020 fair that particularly caught my eye.
Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon
Some watches grab my attention immediately, some require a bit more time.
When Laurent Ferrier first introduced the Grand Sport Tourbillon in 2019, I was professionally intrigued but not personally touched. The dial color in combination with the rubber strap just didn’t do it for me.
This indicates the power of details as now, with a deep blue dial and on a steel bracelet, the watch has become pure perfection!
The new dial adds a layer of sleekness and creates a harmonious balance with only the orange Super-LumiNova in the hands and hour markers adding a contrasting dash of color. They make the Grand Sport Tourbillon an ideal balancing act, with each detail significant enough to stand out but none overpowering.
The Grand Sport Tourbillon watch is impressive in itself and I am not even bothered by its 44 mm diameter, which I usually consider too large, and the movement is also a thing of utter beauty. Its design, the way that it is constructed and finished, is enough to make any watch enthusiast stop what they’re doing in fascination. And if not, perhaps it’s time to consider stamp collecting.
The tourbillon, featuring a double balance spring, plays an essential role in the Grand Sport Tourbillon being chronometer-certified by the Besançon observatory.
Still, you might argue that a tourbillon has no place in a sports watch, and you would be right. Yet, I would say in its defense that a modern sports watch shouldn’t be fitted with a mechanical movement either. But that it is all the more fun when it is.
Yes there are some niggles, but they are fairly insignificant.
For one, “Tourbillon Grand Sport” is printed on the dial, but the watch is continuously referred to as the “Grand Sport Tourbillon” in the press materials and descriptions. I think the brand should forgo the mention of “tourbillon” on the dial altogether; “Grand Sport” is enough as it makes the watch even more of an understatement then it already is. Especially as the tourbillon isn’t visible from the dial side.
Secondly, the Grand Sport Tourbillon is a watch that I want to see in the wild, on wrists. Given its price tag the chances are already slim, but the fact that Laurent Ferrier is only making 12 of them makes that nearly non-existent.
The Grand Sport Tourbillon is so good that surely demand will be larger than those 12 pieces. But then again, perhaps the next 12 will be even better!
For more information, please visit www.laurentferrier.ch/collection/product/grand-sport_tourbillon_stainless-steel-bracelet.
Quick Facts Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon
Case: 44 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manual winding Caliber LF619.01 with one-minute tourbillon visible from the back, 80-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, double balance spring, officially chronometer certified
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on tourbillon)
Limitation: 12 pieces
Price: CHF 172,000
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph
What watch might an Italian dandy wear while driving from Milan to his country house at Lake Como in a Ferrari 166MM Barchetta? Quite possibly the new Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph, I know I would in his place.
Everything about this watch is glorious. Where the Laurent Ferrier is discreet about its tourbillon, this Vacheron Constantin doesn’t hide its qualities. The tourbillon crowns the watch through a generous window at 12 o’clock, showcasing the rotating escapement in all its Maltese Cross-shaped glory.
While Vacheron Constantin’s designers are not necessarily flaunting the tourbillon, they are certainly being extroverted about it. And why not?!?!
The design of the Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph isn’t quite symmetrical, with its 45-minute chronograph counter snugly placed at 3 o’clock beside the tourbillon and visually balanced by the Vacheron Constantin logo opposite.
The brand knew that traditional chronograph pushers would throw off the balance of the watch, so they opted to make the watch a monopusher with a single button integrated into the crown. Not only is this a brilliant visual solution, but also a technically interesting one that adds a dash more character.
The movement is also a visual delight with its exciting layout and superb finishing, sincerely earning its Geneva Seal. Through the transparent case back we can both admire the back of the tourbillon and the chronograph mechanism as well, both playing profound roles in the appeal of the Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph.
With a diameter of 42.5 mm it is perhaps a bit on the large side for a classical timepiece, despite being an average size in the rest of the Traditionnelle collection. While I am normally an advocate for smaller sized watches, I think that it suits this Vacheron Constantin model, which is a tad more dandy than gentleman.
Quick Facts Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph
Case: 42.5 x 11.7 mm, pink gold
Movement: manual winding Caliber 3200 with one-minute tourbillon, 65-hour power reserve, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency, Geneva Seal
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on tourbillon cage); 45-minute monopusher chronograph; power reserve indicator
Piaget Altiplano Tourbillon: Infinitely Personal
At Piaget, all eyes are right now on the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept, the watch reclaiming the title of the thinnest serially produced mechanical watch in the world.
And while I was impressed with the prototype Altiplano Tourbillon two years ago at SIHH 2018, it is another Altiplano model that caught my eye at the digital Watches & Wonders fair this year. Piaget released the Altiplano Tourbillon in a 41 mm white gold case with a hand-guilloche dial featuring a bold sunray motif covered in luscious green enamel. The bezel is set with 2.51 carats of baguette-cut diamonds, while the lugs feature three brilliant-cut diamonds each.
The Altiplano Tourbillon is a good example of what clients can order within the new Piaget Infinitely Personal concept, which allows future owners to select from a wide variety of options to create their own, “ultimate” Altiplano Tourbillon.
This is surprisingly as similar to ordering a high-end car as Piaget can create, for example: a sunburst enamel or lacquer dial in just about any color, even from a photograph or your favorite handkerchief. The personalization options go much further than that as even the tourbillon cage can be engraved with a personal message.
And should you consider diamonds on the bezel too bling an option, Piaget also offers emeralds, sapphires, or rubies.
While I applaud Piaget for its new concept, which I think strikes just the right note, I don’t need any other options as this Altiplano Tourbillon model variation is just perfect for me. The baguette-cut diamonds in combination with the white gold case are understated for a diamond setting and don’t overpower the dial at all.
Piaget opted to give the flying tourbillon generous room to shine by making the subdial for the hours and minutes the same diameter, giving the watch a sense of style that we haven’t seen since the 1960s.
That this tourbillon is no longer (for now) the thinnest tourbillon on the market doesn’t take away from the fact that its Caliber 670P is still among one of the most breathtaking tourbillon movements available. And that hasn’t lost any of its relevance.
For more information, please visit int.piaget.com/watches/white-gold-diamond-ultra-thin-tourbillon.
Quick Facts Piaget Altiplano Tourbillon
Case: 41 x 7.4 mm, white gold, bezel set with 48 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 2.51 ct), lugs set with three brilliant-cut diamonds each, crown set with 1 rose-cut diamond (approx. 0.09 ct)
Movement: manual winding Caliber 670P with one-minute flying tourbillon, 48-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on tourbillon cage)
Price: on request