West Coast Whirlwinds: Five Tourbillon Watches You’ll Discover at WatchTime L.A.

WatchTime Los Angeles, the West Coast’s biggest watch show, hits Downtown L.A.’s Hudson Loft like a horological whirlwind next week! “Whirlwind,” incidentally, is the literal translation of “tourbillon,” one of the watch world’s most coveted high complications. Here are five of the most notable tourbillon-equipped timepieces that will be on display over the course of the two-day horological extravaganza.

Pioneering complications specialist Christophe Claret celebrates the 10-year anniversary of his eponymous independent watch brand with a new watch, the Christophe Claret Angelico, which combines a tourbillon with a long detent escapement and a cable-type fusee transmission system. This combination is a first in wristwatch history and was more commonly associated with the usage of marine chronometers in the 18th century. The watch also features a jumping dual-time display, a day/night indicator, and a power reserve display to showcase its 72 hours of running autonomy courtesy of two parallel-mounted mainspring barrels. The time within both time zones is displayed via a jumping hour appearing in counters at 5 and 7 o’clock, along with the day/night indication for both time zones. Minutes are displayed by a peripheral hand adorned with a natural ruby on the red gold version, and blue sapphire on the titanium version. The watch — which derives its name from Fra Angelico, an Early Renaissance painter, a reference to Claret’s fascination with that artistic period — comes in a 45.5-mm-diameter case made of either 5N red gold or grade 5 titanium, both limited to just 20 pieces. More detail on the watch’s inner workings can be found here.

Christophe Claret Angelico
Christophe Claret Angelico

Designed by Swiss watchmaker Jean-François Mojon, mastermind behind the Harry Winston Opus X, the Cyrus Klepcys Vertical Skeleton Tourbillon follows up the groundbreaking original Vertical Tourbillon, introduced last year, which placed the tourbillon cage in the middle of the watch’s dial, on a vertical axis and inclined at a 90º angle, the angle at which the tourbillon is almost always in a vertical position on the wrist. In this new skeletonized version of the movement, the wearer is afforded a clear view into the heart of the watch, including the rhythmic rotations of the tourbillon, while reading the time off of two retrograde hands. The timepiece’s symmetrical 3D architecture is built around an arched vertical bridge that frames the tourbillon cage and divides the dial into two equal parts, each with a numbered scale on its border. On the right is a 0-to-60 arch for the minutes; on the left is a similar scale, with white Arabic numerals from 1 to 12, for the jumping hours. Together, both displays indicate the time on sculpted retrograde hand, while the running seconds are read off the tiny numbered blocks on the tourbillon itself, which makes a rotation on its axis every 60 seconds. The watch, with its cushion-shaped 44mm case, is available in three versions, each strictly limited to five pieces: one in 4N rose gold (pictured), a second in titanium and black DLC, and a third combining rose gold with black DLC. More details can be found here.

Cyrus Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon Skeleton - RG - angle
Cyrus Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon Skeleton

A tourbillon cage on a vertical incline is also the talking point of the new F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain Vertical, which commemorates 20 years for one of Francois-Paul Journe’s most important horological innovations, the original Tourbillon Souverain. For this new piece, which is offered in either a platinum or rose gold case at 42 mm in diameter, Journe has developed a tourbillon whose vertical tourbillon cage, with remontoir d’égalité and deadbeat seconds, makes one revolution every 30 seconds rather than the more common one-minute design. In Journe’s own words, the benefit of this vertical orientation is so “ that the tourbillon’s functions remain constant whether the watch lies flat or is placed on its side, and the amplitude is subsequently the same, whether with a deployant clasp lying on the side or with an ardillon buckle lying flat.” Surrounding the tourbillon cage, a cone-shaped mirror-polished ring concentrates light, reflecting the cage itself. The 4N rose gold bridges that form the dial are decorated with clous de Paris guilloche with, for the first time, a grand feu enamel hour dial at 3 o’clock. The watch also features an 80-hour power reserve at 12 o’clock and small seconds at 6 o’clock; the remontoir d’égalité is placed at 7 o’clock. For additional photos of both versions of the watch, click here.

F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain Vertical in platinum

Boutique watchmaker Kerbedanz gained acclaim in 2017 with the launch of the Maximus, touted as the world’s largest tourbillon in a wristwatch. This year, the timepiece placed its titanic, 27-mm-diameter titanium tourbillon cage within a case covered in 463 baguette-cut diamonds. The use of titanium in the tourbillon cage of the Royal Maximus allows the tourbillon to complete its rotation despite its size thanks to the overall lighter weight. The tourbillon makes one full rotation every six minutes and was designed completely in-house by the Kerbedanz R&D team. The movement, dubbed Caliber KRB-08, is made of 415 total components (with the tourbillon claiming 73 of those), with its energy produced by four parallel barrels built around a central wheel mounted on a ball bearing. Its production is only possible thanks to a uniquely-developed balance spring, a rack assembly with a fine-tuning screw, and a balance wheel. The hour and minute hands extend off of the tourbillon cage and are mounted on geared discs. The diamond-encrusted indexes feature a sharp incline into the overall architecture of the watch, which is housed in a massive 49-mm case. Click here for more details.

Kerbedanz Royal Maximus
Kerbedanz Royal Maximus

Zenith’s year-long 50th-anniversary celebration of its groundbreaking high-frequency chronograph caliber, the El Primero, continues with the launch of the new Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon, whose avant-garde design features two separate escapements and a stopwatch function that can measure elapsed times to 1/100th second. Housed inside a 46-mm case, in either platinum or all-black carbon, the new El Primero Caliber 9020 is equipped with two tourbillons — one at 10 o’clock that is coupled with the chronograph function, the other at 8 o’clock to regulate the timekeeping rate of the watch. The escapement in the 10 o’clock tourbillon beats at a lightning-quick frequency of 50 Hz (360,000 vph), its carriage performing a full rotation every five secondsand ensuring that the central chronograph hand makes a complete sweep of the dial once per second, and thus has the ability to measure intervals to 1/100th second. The 8 o’clock tourbillon escapement oscillates at a more conventional (at least for an El Primero) 36,000 vph, or 5 Hz, and separately regulates the hours, minutes, and continuously running seconds. The platinum model is limited to 10 pieces, while the carbon model is limited to 50 pieces. More details and images can be found here.

Zenith Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon - soldier
Zenith Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon

Tickets for WatchTime L.A., on May 3-4, along with info on all the participating watch brands, VIP guests, and panels and presentations, are available here. Embrace the whirlwind!

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