Tourbillon Complication Exclusivity a Thing of the Past?

Written by Debbie. Posted in watch history

There are few complications that prove a watch’s horological prowess like the tourbillon.  Invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet at the turn of the century to achieve the utmost accuracy in timepieces, the tourbillon almost went extinct with the advent of the quartz watch. 

Tourbillons were invented to balance out the effects of gravity and jiggling of the timepiece that would throw off the mechanics of the watch.  Once the quartz watches hit stores, their effortless accuracy rendered the tourbillon a thing of the past…for a while.

However, as the novelty of quartz watches wore off, the eyes of watch enthusiasts were once again drawn to the more artistic, more mechanically masterfully, and more historically rich timepieces of years gone by.

Tourbillons started making a reappearance in the world of watches about ten years ago, but for more reason than faultless accuracy.  The tourbillon is an extremely difficult horological feat, but combined with the scope of features that a luxury watch now requires, the feat becomes even more impressive.

Tourbillons have exploded into the world of watches to the point where their complexity is now as rare as reality TV—that is to say, not at all.  Just about every major watch brand boasts at least one tourbillon.  In fact, it’s rare for a collectionof watches to miss out on a tourbillon, never mind a brand.

Modern tourbillons have now become even more impressive.  Double carriage, incredibly huge, impressively tiny, (list some brands here), the tourbillon is now in danger of…dare I say it…overused?

Where the tourbillon once was a unique, almost quirky addition to a timepiece, it has now become something of a gimmick.

That is not to say that the tourbillon is unworthy of such attention.  It is an incredibly beautiful piece of machinery, and its successful completion is the piece de resistance of any watch maker.  However, it is no longer the rarity it once was—and may even be a superfluous addition to the cost.

The tourbillon remains an beautiful and worthy accomplishment in the world of horology.  Incredibly difficult to realize, incredibly delicate to design, and unbelievably magnetizing in action, the tourbillon may well be worthy of the new attention bestowed on it in the 21st century.  However, its exclusivity as a luxury timepiece element is a thing of the past.

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