As we approach the end of 2018 and prepare for 2019 — surely destined to be another interesting year in the world of watches — we take a look back at some of the most noteworthy timepieces that came out this year, in various popular categories. Today, we look at eight watches from 2018 that offered interesting takes on that classical mainstay of high horology, the tourbillon.
Released at Baselworld 2018, the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique 5367 represents the latest chapter in the Breguet brand’s historical relationship with the tourbillon, a horological invention patented by its founder, 18th century watchmaking pioneer Abraham-Louis Breguet. Technically, the model has been in Breguet’s catalog since 2013, but this time around, a grand feu enamel dial has been added, and the power-reserve indicator removed, to create an impressively austere dial layout, albeit one still boasting the classical Breguet elements such as vintage-look Arabic numerals, classical blued Breguet hands, and an off-center tourbillon cage, whose hand-beveled tourbillon bar topped by a stabilizing spinel. The case, in either 18k rose gold or platinum, has a fluted caseband and an exhibition caseback displaying the movement, self-winding Caliber 581 with an 80-hour power reserve. At only 3 mm thick, this peripheral-rotor-driven caliber contributes to the watch’s “Extra-Plat” thinness of 7.45 mm. More info and photos here.
Bulgari has broken several horological thinness records at Baselworld in recent years, and with this year’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, the Italian brand has managed to break two of them at the same time: the watch is not only the thinnest tourbillon watch, but also reclaims the title as the thinnest serially produced automatic watch from Piaget (last December, Piaget briefly became the record holder for the world’s thinnest serially produced automatic watch, coming in at only 4.3 mm thick). The new movement, Caliber BVL 288, accomplishes its automatic winding not via a micro-rotor (like the Octo Automatic), but via a peripheral oscillating weight, made of white gold and platinum, positioned on the back of the movement. The movement also incorporates a flying tourbillon equipped with a ball-bearing system to contribute to the reduced thickness. Measuring just 1.95 mm thick and offering a 52-hour power reserve, Caliber BVL 288 is housed in a sandblasted 42-mm titanium case. Click here for additional photos, and more info.
Carl Friedrich Bucherer established his first watch and jewelry boutique in the Swiss city of Lucerne in 1888, making 2018 the 130th anniversary of his eponymous company, which in 1919 also began making its own luxury timepieces. With the release of the Heritage Tourbillon Double Peripheral Limited Edition, the modern Carl F. Bucherer watch brand paid homage to both its watchmaking history and to the ancient baroque city of its origins. Limited to just 88 pieces (a reference to the year of the firm’s founding), the watch’s 42.5-mm rose gold case has a sapphire back displaying the stunningly decorative movement, a specially embellished version of Bucherer’s recently released, in-house-developed Caliber CFB T3000, which is self-winding by means of a peripheral rotor and incorporates a tourbillon cage that is also supported peripherally, by three ceramic ball bearings. The 18k gold movement bridge, which covers nearly the entire back of the movement aside from the tourbillon cage, is hand-engraved with an illustration of the Lucerne cityscape. For more on the watch and its movement details, click here.
The Corum Bubble Central Tourbillon is the latest and most ambitious step in the full-speed-ahead relaunch of the cult-classic Bubble collection, which began in 2015. It has a large, round, 47-mm case — in the pictured version, titanium with black PVD and an 18k rose gold bezel — covered by the Bubble’s emblematic domed sapphire crystal and featuring an another pane of sapphire in the back to showcase the movement. On the dial side is a centrally positioned tourbillon that required a technically complex inline movement construction and which uses a non-soldered pallet to position the tourbillon at the most ideal angle to catch the eye. Corum’s “key” logo appears dead center on the upper tourbillon bridge, and shape of the wide, domed crystal acts like a magnifying glass, enhancing its technical details. The watch offers an unconventional way of reading the time: the hours and minutes displays are on the dial’s flange, with hours indicated by a colored triangle on the inner scale and minutes by a black triangle on the outer scale. For more, click The watch also offers an unconventional way of reading the time. So as not to obscure the central tourbillon with traditional center-mounted hands, the hours and minutes displays have been moved to the dial’s flange, with hours indicated by a colored triangle on the inner scale and minutes by a black triangle on the outer scale. For more, click here.
Hublot, the Swiss brand known for its bold forays into unconventional materials and envelope-pushing technology, took the still-niche category of sapphire-cased watches to a new level with the introduction of the Big Bang Sapphire Tourbillon, which boasts not only a crystal-clear case milled from blocks of solid sapphire, but a see-through skeletonized movement as well. In addition to the transparent sapphire case and crystal, the resin dial, and the matching translucent strap made of structured lined rubber, the timepiece (limited to 99 pieces) also boasts a painstakingly skeletonized version of Hublot’s in-house HUB6016 manual-winding tourbillon movement — the same five-day-power-reserve caliber used in previous Hublot tourbillon models like the Big Bang Tourbillon Power Reserve 5 Days Titanium, but here with one big difference: the components, except for a few metal gears, are also see-through, constructed of high-tech polycarbonate materials. For more details and photos, click here.
One of two tourbillon-equipped watches in IWC’s Jubilee collection, released in commemoration of the Schaffhausen brand’s 150th anniversary in 2018, the Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “150 Years” boasts a 46-mm case made of platinum and a white-lacquered dial with blued hands. It also notably marks the debut of a new in-house movement, Caliber 94805, which combines a constant-force tourbillon with a “perpetual” moon-phase display (meaning it will only need to be adjusted by one day after 577.5 years) — another technical first for the brand. In addition to the patented constant-force mechanism, which transmits completely even impulses to the mechanism and works in conjunction with the tourbillon to achieve what IWC calls an exceptionally high level of precision, the hand-wound movement can also claim an exceptionally long power reserve — 96 hours, or a full four days, as can be observed on a dial-side indicator at 4:30 that joins the moon-phase display between 12 and 2 0’clock and the large tourbillon cage at 9 o’clock. On display through the sapphire caseback, Caliber 94805 is accented by a gold medallion with the IWC Jubilee insignia. The watch is limited to just 15 pieces, and priced at $253,000.
The H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Tourbillon Concept continues the tradition of the Moser brand’s Concept pieces, inaugurated in 2016 with the Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Concept, by eliminating nearly every element from the dial except the hands, including the brand logo and any kind of hour markers. The dial is in Moser’s now-recognizable Funky Blue fumé style, with radiating color shades and a sunburst finish that imparts a “smoky” look. The leaf-shaped hour and minute hands — made from 18k white gold, like the three-part, 41-mm-diameter case — are another hallmark of Moser watches. The main talking point, of course, is at 6 o’clock: a large flying tourbillon, equipped with a skeletonized bridge, that appears to float above the dial’s iridescent surface. Powering the watch is the self-winding Caliber HM 804, which stores a three-day power reserve and is equipped with Moser’s innovative double hairspring. Click here for more details.
The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon, unveiled at this year’s SIHH, marks a milestone for the 280-plus-year-old watchmaking maison: its first-ever self-winding tourbillon movement, the ultra-thin Caliber 2160. Housed in an elegant 41-mm rose gold case, the movement’s signature feature is its openworked tourbillon carriage, visible through an aperture at 6 o’clock on the silvered opaline dial, shaped like a Maltese cross, the classical emblem of Vacheron Constantin. Just 5.65 mm in thickness and composed of 188 pieces, Caliber 2160 offers a lengthy 80-hour power reserve and is enhanced with a 22k gold rotor. Dauphine hands indicate the hours and minutes on the dial, while the small seconds are displayed by the graceful motion of the tourbillon itself.