It goes without saying: 2020 was far from an ideal year for most of us. Looking back, however, it was also a year that brought many noteworthy watch launches despite the huge obstacles posed by the pandemic and its effects on the world economy. As we look ahead hopefully to 2021, it’s time for our annual look back at some of those timepieces, in various popular categories. Today, we focus on 2020’s most memorable tourbillon-equipped timepieces.
Breguet’s Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 Quai de L’Horloge pays the most direct tribute yet to founder (and inventor of the tourbillon) Abraham-Louis Breguet and to the Parisian atelier where he created his early masterpieces while also displaying the manufacture’s 21st-Century technical and decorative mastery. Its two-tourbillon movement, connected by a differential device and in full view behind a sapphire dial, rotates the entire plate in sequence with the passing hours, and its hand-finished array of components include mainplates and bridges in solid gold, a Breguet first. On the rear side of the manually wound Caliber 588N is the painstakingly applied micro-artistry that lends the model its name: a rendering of the “House on the Quai,” the workshop on Paris’s Ile de la Cité where Abraham-Louis Breguet plied his trade back in the 18th Century. Click here for more details and photos.
The Chronoswiss Open Gear Tourbillon, a limited edition of just 15 pieces, celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Lucerne-based brand’s most noteworthy contribution to horology, the release of the first serially produced tourbillon watch with a regulator time display. Bringing together a flying tourbillon movement with an avant-garde electric blue colorway characteristic of today’s Chronoswiss brand, the watch’s 44-mm CVD-coated case includes classical elements like coin-edged sides and an onion crown, while its dial, comprised of no less than 43 pieces, places its tourbillon at 6 o’clock, framed by bright blue hand-guillochéd areas. The hands are blue-lacquered and luminous-accented, and the multi-level dial showcases the skeletonized train wheel bridges of the Chronoswiss Caliber C-303. Click here to find out more.
De Bethune rolled out its first DB28 Steel Wheels model in 2018, which was distinguished by its openworked dial. the latest iteration this year, the Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon, ups the ante by crafting the movement’s hallmark Delta-shaped bridges and barrel covers out of blue and clear sapphire. The 43-mm case is made of polished, lightweight titanium and features the floating, wrist-conforming lugs that have become an emblem of De Bethune. The openworked movement’s two barrels hold a power reserve of six days. The titanium ring hosting the spherical hour markers is also in blue, as are elements of the distinctive hands and the tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock. Click here to see hands-on photos.
Girard-Perregaux’s invention of a tourbillon with three bridges in 1867 has influenced its tourbillon-equipped wristwatches ever since, most notably in the Quasar editions of recent years. The Quasar Azure Limited Edition (only eight pieces), fits the Quasar’s sophisticated, skeletonized tourbillon movement into a case sculpted from a single block of blue sapphire. The 46-mm case required more than 200 hours of work to achieve its uniform shade. Its box-shaped crystals in the front and back offer a 360º view of the watch’s complex, skeletonized movement, Caliber GP09400-1035, whose arrow-shaped “Neo-Bridges,” made of grade 5 titanium, anchor the tourbillon above an NAC-treated mainplate. Under Dauphine hour and minute hands made of white gold and treated with a blue luminous material, the tourbillon appears to float freely in space, earning the watch its cosmos-inspired name. More details here.
Jaeger-LeCoultre, a maison well-known for sophisticated combinations of horological complications, has somehow not produced a timepiece with both a tourbillon and moon-phase — until this year, with the unveiling of the Master Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Moon. The watch, which also incorporates the manufacture’s signature peripheral “jumping date,” has a 41-mm case made of “Le Grand Rose” gold, a new rose-gold alloy that offers exceptional sheen and depth of color and is highly resistant to fading over time. The eggshell-white dial hosts the moon-phase display at 12 o’clock and the tourbillon, with its newly designed polished rose-gold bridge, in an expansive aperture at 6 o’clock. The self-winding, in-house Caliber 983, based on the award-winning 978 movement introduced in 2009, powers the timepiece, amassing a power reserve of 45 hours. Click here to learn more.
The Grand Sport Tourbillon stands apart from other models in the mostly luxury-oriented Laurent Ferrier collection, with a design that pays tribute to the brand founder’s longtime enthusiasm for motorsports and sports watches worn by drivers in the 1970s. The watch’s barrel-shaped steel case, with a cushion-shaped bezel, measures 44 mm in diameter and features predominantly circular satin-brushed finishes along with a mirror polish on the flanks. Its sunken crown is fluted and onion-shaped and protected by two subtle, ergonomic crown guards. Inside the case is a manually wound, chronometer-certified movement equipped with a tourbillon escapement. The gradient blue-to-black opaline dial has a snailed, small-seconds subdial; white-gold “Assegai” shaped hands; and indices treated with orange Super-LumiNova. Its integrated bracelet is in stainless steel with a classical three-link design. Click here for more detail on the watch and its movement.
Omega, which unbeknownst to many created the first wristwatch tourbillon in 1947, rolled out its latest achievement in that field in 2020: the first manual-winding, wrist-borne tourbillon that meets the standards of Omega’s in-house Master Chronometer certification. The 43-mm case of the De Ville Tourbillon Numbered Edition has a casebody made of proprietary 18K Canopus gold, while the bezel, lugs and caseback are in Omega’s in-house Sedna gold alloy. The dial, also constructed of Sedna gold, has a sun-brushed, black PVD finish and a tourbillon cage in its center, with hand-polished bevels are made of black ceramized titanium. A large sapphire window in the caseback movement affords a rear view of the movement, Omega’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer Caliber 2640, whose tourbillon escapement makes one complete revolution per minute and can continue its rotation even under the influence of magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss — a watch industry first. More details can be found here.
The Toric Tourbillon Slate, unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2020, is the first tourbillon piece to join Parmigiani Fleurier’s recently revived Toric collection, which is directly descended from the very first watch made by brand founder Michel Parmigiani. Its hallmark traits include the gadroons and knurled pattern on its contours, inspired by Ancient Greek columns. The slate-colored guilloché dial takes its artisanal, engraved texture from the concentrically patterned scales of a pine cone — one of the many examples in nature of the Golden Ratio, the design principle that informs all of Parmigiani’s timepieces. The watch’s 60-second flying tourbillon is displayed in a large aperture at 7 o’clock — an unconventional position chosen to honor the birth hour of its namesake, who was born at 7:08 AM on December 2nd, 1950. Click here for more on the watch and its movement.
One of Ulysse Nardin’s most notable launched this year was the Blast, whose attributes include a new, self-winding, skeletonized caliber with a flying tourbillon, a sculpted, multifaceted case design inspired by the lines of stealth aircraft, and a newly designed, “one-click” folding clasp. Its flying tourbillon is ensconced in an X-shaped cage and the hour and minute hands are centered in the dial’s “shape-within-shape-within-shape” architecture: a large “X” framed inside a rectangle, framed inside the circle of the bezel. The movement, Caliber UN-172, is an evolution of the existing Caliber 171 used in UN’s Executive Skeleton Tourbillon models, and adds a major upgrade: a platinum micro-rotor, visible from the front at 12 o’clock, which winds the silicon mainspring automatically to amass a three-day power reserve. The aerodynamic profile of the 45-mm case culminates in triple lugs that integrate seamlessly into the strap. All versions can be seen here.
With its Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph, Vacheron Constantin unites two of watchmaking’s most sophisticated mechanisms — a tourbillon and a monopusher chronograph — in a distinctly elegant package. Instantly eye-catching at 12 o’clock on the watch’s silvered opaline dial is the tourbillon, with its hallmark Maltese cross-inspired carriage and uncommonly wide aperture. Sharing space on the dial are a 45-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock and an indicator for the watch’s 65-hour power reserve at 6 o’clock. The chronograph mechanism, operated by a monopusher embedded in the fluted crown, is equipped with an “all-or-nothing” activation system that prevents accidental activation by applying insufficient pressure to the pusher. Behind the sapphire exhibition back of the 42.5-mm rose-gold case is the manufacture Caliber 3200, introduced on the occasion of Vacheron Constantin’s 260th anniversary and the product of seven years in R&D. Further technical details and additional images can be found here.