3 Standout Tourbillon Watches From Baselworld 2013

Chopard LUC Engine One tourbillonAfter a few challenging economic years for the watch industry, in which some feared big-ticket haute horlogerie timepieces were on the wane, tourbillon watches came roaring back at this year’s Baselworld. Here’s a trio of unusual tourbillons that grabbed our attention.

Chopard brings its long association with motorsports  to bear in the design of its new L.U.C. Engine One Tourbillon, which is built to resemble the engine block of a high-performance racecar. The horizontally oriented titanium case contains a manual-wound tourbillon movement, Chopard Caliber L.U.C. 04.02-L, designed and assembled at Chopard’s manufacture in Fleurier, Switzerland. The openings in the movement resemble those on a car engine’s air intake; the engraved grooves on the dial-side bridges are inspired by engine-block cylinder heads and are a functional part of the mainplate. The case features contrast in its polished and brushed surfaces as well as in its cut-off curves and concave surfaces.

The dial design is also automotive-inspired, with central hour and minute hands complemented by a power-reserve display on the left that is read like a fuel gauge and, on the right, a small seconds display on the tourbillon itself, which calls to mind a speedometer. Even the alligator leather strap has an auto racing pedigree: both the inner and outer sides have five rows of overstitching echoing the look of automobile seat upholstery from the 1960s and ’70s. And, despite all the aesthetic touches, the designers of the Chopard L.U.C. Engine One Tourbillon didn’t skimp on the accuracy: the watch, a limited edition of 100 pieces, is a COSC-certified chronometer.

Chopard LUC Engine One Tourbillon - reclining

Chopard LUC Engine One Tourbillon - front
Chopard Calibre LUC0402-L

Ulysse Nardin followed up its Royal Blue Tourbillon, which boasted a mainplate and bridges made of blue sapphire, with the new Royal Ruby Tourbillon, a 99-piece limited edition that features movement bridges and mainplates crafted in ruby and equipped with a flying tourbillon that appears to defy gravity. The skeletonized, manual-winding movement, Caliber UN-79, is constructed along the principles of famous Swiss watchmaker James Pellaton. The flange of the dial is set with 12 rubies representing the hours, along with 48 diamonds. The 41-mm 950 platinum case is set with 92 diamonds, including 60 on the bezel. Next to diamond, ruby is the strongest precious gemstone; the ruby mainplate lends the timepiece a splash of eye-catching red that contrasts with the white alligator strap, with its platinum folding buckle.

Ulysse Nardin Royal Ruby Tourbillon
Ulysse Nardin Ruby Red Tourbillon - bracelet

Not content with wowing the watch world with its ultra-complicated Histoire de Tourbillon 4 and Opus XIII, luxury jeweler and watchmaker Harry Winston also added a sophisticated tourbillon timepiece to its Ocean collection at this year’s Baselworld. The Harry Winston Ocean Tourbillon Jumping Hour combines an unusually designed flying tourbillon with a jumping-hours complication, the first in the Ocean collection.

The watch’s manual-wind movement, Caliber HW4401, features a tourbillon that is suspended from two hand-chamfered steel bridges, rather than in its typical location on the back of the movement plate, giving it the illusion of hanging free in space, its motion apparently unconnected to the rest of the mechanism. In reality, the tourbillon is driven by a wheel geared to its outer circumference and almost completely concealed by the dial’s minute track. An aperture at the 12 o’clock position reveals the hour numeral, which instantaneously jumps at the start of each hour. Harry Winston has designed the dial of the Ocean Tourbillon Jumping Hour so that the minute pointer, a tiny red arrow, never blocks the hour window. The 60-second rotation of the tourbillon serves as a small seconds indicator, and a power-reserve indicator is located on the caseback. The other notable feature of this watch? Its 110-hour power reserve, provided by series-connected twin barrels.

Harry Winston Ocean Tourbillon Jumping Hour - front
Harry Winston Ocean Tourbillon Jumping Hour - back
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