Yesterday, we showcased some watches from our recent WatchTime New York event that we found suitable for everyday wear based on their accessible prices, classically clean designs, and simplicity of functions. So what about the other end of the spectrum — ultra-high-end timepieces for deep-pocketed collectors, characterized by that badge of horological expertise, the tourbillon? Here we take a look at five that were on display at the show.
The Ateliers deMonaco Tourbillon Casino de Monte-Carlo is a unique piece, inspired and named after the historical monument in Monaco located next to the famous Hôtel de Paris. The watch depicts the scene on its solid white-gold dial, which is hand engraved by Ateliers deMonaco’s master engraver. It is composed of three superimposed plates that create an impressive, detailed relief featuring the palm tree avenue as well as the steps of the Casino, the Casino’s façade and its two famous domes, and the sky with its overhanging clouds. The opening of the tourbillon’s cage dominates the center of the dial and reveals the movement’s sapphire bridge. The watch is powered by one of the first patented movements from Ateliers deMonaco, called Tourbillon XP1. It has an extremely precise tourbillon with a tolerance of 0 to 2 seconds per 24 hours. The watch’s 44-mm case is white gold with an ultralight titanium core, and brushed, polished and assembled by hand; the caseback is hand-engraved.
One of the highlights of this year’s Baselworld watch fair, and making one of its first appearances in the U.S. ahead of its market release, the Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5587 combines a tourbillon with both a perpetual calendar and an innovative equation-of-time function for a rare, triple-high-complication timepiece. The watch displays the running equation of time at a glance using a “running” (marchante) central hand on the dial rather than on a more traditional subdial showing the minutes to be added or subtracted to the current civil time. The cam that controls the equation-of-time function, tourbillon and perpetual calendar is shaped like a figure eight, and visible on the dial through a window that also displays the tourbillon carriage. It runs on a sapphire disk so as not to block the view of the tourbillon. The watch, which is available in a 43.9-mm case in platinum or rose gold, celebrates Abraham-Louis Breguet’s appointment in 1814 as a member of the Bureau des Longitudes in Paris, a group of experts who measured the earth’s physical properties, and the Breguet brand’s role as official marine chronometer maker to the French Royal Navy.
Czapek is a crowdfunding-supported brand named for François Czapek, a 19th-century Polish watchmaker who opened what is believed to be the first haute horlogerie boutique on France’s famed Place Vendôme. Hence the name of the Place Vendôme Tourbillon Suspendu, which features the unconventional dial layout with two subdials at 4:30 and 7:30 — for the tourbillon cage and a “dragging” second-time-zone disk — and a third subdial at 12 o’clock to display the time. Between the lower subdials is a counterclockwise-rotating day-night disk. A power reserve display is integrated into the 12 o’clock local-time subdial, which is made of grand feu enamel and has blued fleur de lys hands sweeping over Roman numerals.The rear sapphire crystal allows a view of the proprietary, manual-wind movement, Caliber SXH2, which Czapek developed with the complications specialists at Chronode SA. Driving the array of functions in the timepiece, it ticks at a frequency of 21,600 vph and amasses a 60-hour power reserve in a single mainspring barrel. Czapek also refers to these new models, one in platinum, the other in rose gold, as “Lumières,” a reference to both the Age of Enlightenment, the era in which the tourbillon was invented, and the reflections flashing off the beveled edges of the dial-side bridges.
Making its debut at WatchTime New York was the eight-piece, limited-edition Geo. Graham Orrery Tourbillon, an unexpected high complication from a brand most noteworthy for its dedication to high-octane sports watches. The timepiece was inspired by brand namesake George Graham’s invention of the modern orrery — traditionally, a mechanical model that illustrates the heliocentric position of the solar system — in 1713. In the modern Geo. Graham Orrery Tourbillon, a tourbillon crafted by Christophe Claret forms the beating heart of the galaxy while Moon and Mars figures — crafted with real fragments of the celestial bodies taken from meteorites that fell to Earth, and a Kingman-turquoise Earth — circle the tourbillon enclosed within an 18K rose-gold bridge. In the middle of the engraved star example, a cabochon diamond marks the dead center for the solar rotations. The miniature Copernican system will display 100 consecutive years of planetary movement, with two additional graduations of 100 years making 300 total years of accurate demonstration. On top of the blue-lacquered dial, Gregorian and Zodiac calendars encircle the tourbillon bridge and can be read by the placement of the turquoise earth figurine.
MB&F’s Horological Machine No. 7, aka the “Aquapod,” combines a radially symmetric design inspired by a jellyfish with a flying tourbillon and some elements of a classical divers’ watch. Developed entirely in-house, the movement features a winding rotor, mainspring barrel, hour and minute indicators, and flying tourbillon. (The movement’s three-dimensional architecture, while very avant-garde compared to most of today’s flat, horizontal versions, actually has its roots in the “onion” pocketwatches popular in the 18th century.) Energy generated by the tentacle-like rotor at the bottom travels up to the tourbillon regulator at the top via a series of gears that allow the power to transition from level to level in the manner of climbing stairs. While the brand is quick to point out that the Aquapod is not a true diver’s watch — as it does not meet the required ISO standards with its relatively modest water-resistance of 50 meters— it does incorporate one of the signature elements that divers’ watches possess: namely a unidirectional rotating bezel with a diving scale, here made of polished ceramic with laser-engraved, metallized-titanium-filled numerals and indices. Unlike with traditional watches, however, the bezel is not attached to the case but floats apart from it like a life buoy. Also like a real jellyfish, the HM7 Aquapod glows in the dark to announce its presence. In addition to the hour and minute numerals and indices — which are hand-painted on the curved disks in Super-LumiNova, a blue glow is also emitted from inside the movement — illuminating the flying tourbillon at the top of the watch and the tentacled rotor, The Aquapod is available in a grade 5 titanium case with blue ceramic bezel (pictured) or in an 18k 5n rose gold case with black ceramic bezel.