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Invented by master watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795 then patented in 1801, the tourbillon has since become one of the most complicated and impressive complications in the world. The haunting dance of the escapement and the spinning balance in a rotating cage is like watching the theater unfold. Built to cancel out the effects of gravity by continuously rotating the entire balance wheel and escapement, the tourbillon is unquestionably difficult to manufacture.
Watchmakers around the world flock to the illustrious tourbillon complication to unleash their horological power, with brands like Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Ulysse Nardin creating some of the most incredible examples of tourbillon. We’ve rounded up a handful of watches that best showcase the tourbillon in all its glory. Enjoy!
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph
One of the house’s most complicated pieces, the incredible Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph, comes from one of the watchmaking holy trinity. Combining impeccable finishes of the highest quality and attention to detail, the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon chronograph is a connoisseur’s delight.
The combination of this monopusher chronograph with the enormous tourbillon at 12 o’clock with Vacheron Constantin’s Maltese cross inscribed on the tourbillon cage makes the Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph one of the watchmaker’s most interesting watches, at the same time aesthetically and technically.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon
Jaeger-LeCoultre knows how to make a good watch, and the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon is only primo. Crafted in rose gold and featuring a silver dial, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon perfectly balances complexity and simplicity in what is an absolutely stunning whole.
I love the timeless and traditional character of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon. The case is super subtle, the dial is minimalist and all the emphasis is on this magnificent tourbillon at 6 o’clock. Jaeger-LeCoultre does what Jaeger-LeCoultre does best.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon
The perfection of the modern tourbillon. This is what comes to mind when I see the Traditionnelle Tourbillon by Vacheron Constantin. Executed with contemporary design in mind and in comparison to the classic Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon from Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon is a sight to behold.
I love the thickness of the bezel, I love the integration of the railroad chapter ring, and absolutely love this tourbillon. I could even slip away here and say that of the three watchmakers of the Holy Trinity, Vacheron Constantin makes the best tourbillon cars. Example: the Traditionnelle Tourbillon.
Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport
Slightly avant-garde, slightly against the grain and definitely outside the box, the Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport. It’s a pretty unique take for the independent watchmaker, all the more so how classic his approach has been to watchmaking so far. The Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport has a cushion style case with highly modernized details.
The real magic is of course the case back, where the magnificent and downright impeccable hand-wound LF 619.01 caliber welcomes you. But that doesn’t mean that the dial of the Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport is missing at all. This is a very interesting tourbillon timepiece that strikes the mark from all angles.
Jaeger-LeCoultre geophysical tourbillon
Another tourbillon by Jaeger-LeCoultre, this time with the Geophysic Tourbillon. Precision, art and innovation are all the character traits employed by Jaeger-LeCoultre when performing the Geophysic Tourbillon. It is an incredible spectacle, both dramatic and haute horlogerie.
There is nothing wrong with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon. Dimensionally, very good. Proportions, click on it. Balanced, detailed and extremely complex. Yes, check everything. In other words, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon is as close to perfection as it gets.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tourbillon
Another odd choice after the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon, but perhaps one of the most wearable tourbillon watches on this list after the Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport is the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tourbillon. It’s a nice balance between complexity, discretion and functionality.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tourbillon actually has an 8-day power reserve and is more than suitable for diving into the depths of the ocean with its water resistance of 300m. The subtle rose gold detailing completes what is a super cool tourbillon.
Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Skeleton
Crafted in rose gold and titanium, Ulysse Nardin’s Blast Tourbillon Skeleton is the next piece in the watchmaking adventure on the road to modern haute horlogerie. The openwork tourbillon of the Blast Tourbillon Skeleton is here fully on display and it is absolutely amazing.
The Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Skeleton is contemporary, avant-garde and is an example of the direction that tourbillon watchmaking is taking.
TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber Heuer 02T Nanograph
The TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber Heuer 02T Nanograph is a revealing piece, presented to the world as an affordable version of the usually very expensive tourbillon. Sporty and relaxed, the TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber Heuer 02T Nanograph wonderfully combines the complex high-end nature of the tourbillon in the typical Carrera package.
Relatively speaking, the TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber Heuer 02T Nanograph is quite affordable for a Swiss-made tourbillon watch. It also has the advantage of being functional, versatile and extremely portable. Hats off to TAG Heuer for pushing the boundaries.
Frédérique Constant Manufacture Tourbillon
Perhaps not the most beautiful tourbillon you will come across, but the one that is, like the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02T Nanograph caliber, actually quite affordable, is the Frederique Constant Manufacture tourbillon. This template is super classic in design and execution, with this particular variation finished with a green theme.
The Frederique Constant Manufacture Tourbillon won’t be the first choice for many, but for those who want to expand their collection to include a tourbillon but don’t have the budget for something more upscale, then this might be suitable.
Arnold & Son Te8
Arnold & Son (no, not Arnold Schwarzenegger and his son …) is one of my favorite watchmakers. I think he’s not getting the attention or the applause he really deserves. One of these pieces, the Te8, truly captures the incredible horology that this house is capable of. Complex, unique and extremely well made, the Arnold & Son Te8 is fine watchmaking at its best.
I love the unique dial pattern and the exposed tourbillon. I think it really gives the Arnold & Son Te8 a distinct look, full of character and individuality. It’s sure to be a polarizing piece, but I think it’s bursting with personality.
Panerai Radiomir Tourbillon GMT PAM00330
Finally, the Panerai Radiomir Tourbillon GMT PAM00330. As discreet as possible with a tourbillon, the Panerai Radiomir Tourbillon GMT PAM00330 combines its historic Radiomir case with the fascinating complexity of a tourbillon.
I really like the way Panerai combined a closed dial with a tourbillon. This creates a sort of mystery around the Radiomir Tourbillon GMT PAM00330. Some people might not like the fact that the tourbillon is hidden away or that the watch as a whole looks so simple, but I really like this super understated and undercover look.
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