FEATURE

Progress Through Technology: 10 Tourbillon Watches with High-Tech Designs


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 RM 50-02 ACJ
Richard Mille RM 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

Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari Sapphire
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

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie
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

Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbilon
Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbilon

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

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Earth & Moon
Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Earth & 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

Montblanc 4810 ExoTourbillon Slim
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

Christophe Claret X-TREM-1
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 La Marine Équation Marchante 5887

Breguet La Marine Équation Marchante 5887

The tourbillon was patented by the French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet on June 26, 1801. For the 5887, the prestigious brand has not only added a perpetual calendar, but also measures time according to the current position of the sun (the central hand with sun motif), by which the length of a day can vary by -16 to +14 minutes compared to average or civil time. The difference is called the equation of time. The cam responsible for this 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. Platinum, 43.9 mm, manufacture Caliber 581DPE, automatic, $230,400.

9. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Ultranero

Bulgari Octo Ultranero Finissimo Tourbillon
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

TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T - soldier
TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer-02T

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.

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10 Responses to “Progress Through Technology: 10 Tourbillon Watches with High-Tech Designs”

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  1. Creme de la creme in horological sense.
    Would you need a tourbillon for the accuracy of a watch? No.
    For the eye candy? Yes.
    For me it is no grail to have at least one watch with a tourbillon complication. Do i want one or more? Not two or more, but one watch is ok.
    Look what the watch brands achieve, fun of owning, and i am always a child when something rotates. Makes me laugh and smile, just to look at a watch and feel fine.

    Reply
  2. Gerry Dimatos

    The cost of all these watches with the exception of the Tag Heuer is absolutely ridiculous and explains to me even further why the Swiss watchmaking industry is in decline… To my thinking two simple yet robust watches that are benchmarks in the industry are the Submariner and the Day Date.. In Australia the Subbie is $12K and the Day Date around $50K – both excellent value for what they are.. How do we get to a factor of 10 or 20 Day Dates for the addition of a Tourbillon?
    It’s hard to comprehend and I think it’s just those brands making a statement…
    Good on Tag Heuer for introducing a moderately priced version….

    Reply
  3. Robert C.

    There are myriad reasons to purchase an ultra -expensive timepiece ranging, to name a few, from exclusivity to appearance to workmanship and brand identification. Each to his /her own.

    Personally, when I cannot tell the time due to alleged design elements then I draw the line. Staring at my wrist to decipher a set of complications that obscure the actual time – and being asked to spend high six figures for that dubious pleasure – is absurd.

    These watches are a testament to the skills of their makers but it seems that some of the designers have lost their ways. I’m certain Richard Mille or Hublot might label me as an unsophisticated buyer but that’s ok – at least I know what time it is every time I look at my watch.

    Reply
  4. Jose luis Barrangu

    No puedo ingresar para suscribirme a la revista, si uds pueden conectarme, Se los agradecere
    Jose Luis Barrangu

    Reply
  5. I’m trying to find out about what happened to the revenu thommen watch company in Switzerland are still exist or have gone to liquidation or have been sold to a new owners or grovana hav brought them out

    Reply
  6. That Hublot is REVOLTING!!
    Seriously, it looks like some rotting wound.

    Reply
    • Peter Currer

      When your disposable income is in the millions these watches give you something to spend your money on. May only get your attention and that of your associates for a week or two, then you look for something else.

      Reply
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