Audi’s “progress through technology” motto also applies to the importance of the tourbillon for watch design, because this eye-catching complication greatly enhances a timepiece’s visual appeal. A new trend contributes its fair share, too: many recent models are styled with such a strong emphasis on high tech that their tourbillons fit harmoniously into their overall designs. Here are 10 of these tourbillon watches.
1. Richard Mille 50-02 ACJ
Richard Mille collaborated with Airbus Corporate Jets, which builds luxurious aircraft, to design a technical miracle with an extremely modern-styled tourbillon at 6 o’clock. The split-seconds chronograph for measuring lap times, the torque indicator at the 2 to show how much tension remains in the barrel, and the display at the 4 to show which position has been selected for the crown are likewise readily visible. Titanium-aluminum alloy, manufacture Caliber RM 50-02, automatic, 30 pieces, $1,050,000.
2. Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari Sapphire
In this transparent and very extreme wristwatch from Hublot, a vertically positioned tourbillon perfectly augments 11 vertical barrels, which team up to provide 50 – yes, 50! – days of power reserve. A battery-powered screwdriver is delivered along with the watch to wind the mainsprings. Sapphire, 29.5 mm by 45.8 mm, manufacture Caliber LaFerrari, hand-wound, 20 pieces, $575,000.
3. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie
A tourbillon provides additional visual appeal in the open styling of this newest technological tour de force from Audemars Piguet. This timepiece also offers a delightful audible treat in the form of the clearest and loudest minute repeater in the entire watchmaking industry. Titanium, 44 mm, manufacture Caliber 2937, hand-wound, 520,000 Swiss francs.
4. Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon
The tourbillon is the sole classically designed component here. The highly unconventional time display consists of a jumping hour with two separate disks and a minutes hand pulled across a linear scale by slender cables. The rollers that move these threads resemble the winches that tighten the lines that secure the mast on a sailing yacht. White gold, 44 mm, Caliber UN 630 by Christophe Claret, hand-wound, 18 pieces, $280,000.
5. Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon
Eclipse the tourbillon to indicate the moon’s phase? This may sound crazy, but it’s precisely what Cartier does. When the push-piece at 4 o’clock is pressed, a circular disk of stone cut from a meteorite slides in front of the tourbillon so the portion of the “whirlwind” that remains visible corresponds to the moon’s momentary phase. Rose gold, 47 mm, manufacture Caliber 9440 MC, hand-wound, 15 pieces, $239,000.
6. Montblanc 4810 Exotourbillon Slim
“Ordinary” tourbillons are also still available. A handsomely closed dial and a tourbillon in a dedicated aperture are Montblanc’s interpretation of classical horological beauty at a comparatively affordable price. Rose gold, 42 mm, manufacture Caliber MB 29.21, automatic, $33,500.
7. Christophe Claret X-Trem-1
The characteristically wavy grain of damascene steel makes the Christophe Claret X-Trem-1 look even more extreme. This watch set new technical standards in 2012: its tourbillon is positioned on a diagonal, which makes it difficult to connect the tourbillon to the movement. The “whirlwind” combines with floating balls, magnetically pulled through tubes, to show the hours and minutes. Damascene steel and rose gold, 40.8 mm by 56.8 mm, manufacture Caliber FLY11, hand-wound, eight pieces, $308,000.
8. Breguet Tradition Répétition Minutes Tourbillon
Can a tourbillon mechanism be upstaged? Yes, if the eye-catcher is an innovatively engineered minute repeater. The unconventionally shaped gongs of the Breguet Tradition Minute Repeater Tourbillon are affixed to the bezel and struck from the movement side. One of them even traverses the tourbillon escapement! Rose gold, 44 mm, manufacture Caliber 565DR, automatic, $460,700.
9. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Ultranero
Bulgari unveiled the slimmest tourbillon movement ever in 2014. The caliber is just 1.95 mm tall and ticks inside a 5-mm-slim wristwatch, which acquires a sporty touch in 2016 thanks to blackened titanium. The straight lines in this watch’s design highlight the complication, which attracts everyone’s admiring gaze. DLC-coated titanium, 40 mm, manufacture Caliber Finissimo Tourbillon, hand-wound, $99,000.
10. TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02 Tourbillon
A tourbillon watch with a chronograph, automatic winding and chronometer certificate is sensational, even if TAG Heuer tries to quell the hype by calling attention to its industrialized fabrication. An open and symmetrical construction further enhances this watch’s visual appeal. Titanium, partly coated with titanium carbide, 45 mm, manufacture Caliber Heuer 02T, automatic, $15,950.