In 1801, Abraham-Louis Breguet patented a design for a new type of regulator called the Tourbillon. Before the wristwatch, pocket watches sat stationary on a desk or in one’s pocket. Since these watches remained in a single position, gravity took its toll, having adverse effects on the regularity of the horological movements. In pursuit of greater precision and accuracy, the tourbillon was conceived. Aptly named, the tourbillon – or “whirlwind” in French – places the entire escapement within a revolving carriage. This mobile carriage rotates consistently and averages out positional errors caused by the effects of gravity. The tourbillon is a historical technical achievement, which continues to be developed today. Considered one of the most challenging mechanisms to make, major firms and ateliers produce tourbillon escapements to demonstrate their watchmaking virtuosity.
This season, Sotheby’s is proud to offer a spectacular array of tourbillon wristwatches. Click ahead to see highlights of this special complication, from ultra-thin and skeletonized models by renowned brands like Breguet and Audemars Piguet, to the extraordinarily advanced double tourbillon by Greubel Forsey.
7 June New York