Top Tourbillon Wristwatches

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Launch Slideshow

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.

Important Watches
7 June | New York

Top Tourbillon Wristwatches

  • Frederique Constant, Tourbillon Wristwatch. Estimate $15,000–25,000.
    Frederique Constant introduced the Tourbillon Grand Feu to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Manufacture Frédérique Constant of Plan-les-Ouates in Geneva. Made entirely in house, the Frederique Constant Tourbillon Cage consists of eighty individual parts.

  • Audemars Piguet, Skeletonized Tourbillon Wristwatch. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    The Edward Piguet collection, named after one of the manufacturer’s founders, is distinguished by their elegantly curved rectangular cases and understated Art Deco sophistication. The hand-embellished movement is suspended between two sapphire crystals, allowing for greater appreciation of the beautiful and highly precise one-minute tourbillon combined with constant seconds.

  • Breguet, Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Wristwatch. Estimate $60,000–90,000.
    Breguet’s Extra-Plat Automatique 5377 is one of the world’s thinnest automatic tourbillon wristwatches, with a movement that is 3 mm thick and a case that's 7 mm thick.

  • Greubel Forsey, Inclined Tourbillon Wristwatch. Estimate $125,000–175,000.
    The Tourbillon 24 Seconds Incline is Greubel Forsey's third invention incorporating a movement that is truly mesmerizing to view in action. The tourbillon is inclined at a 25° angle and performs a 24-second revolution, a remarkable feat when compared to more traditional one-minute tourbillons. The Tourbillon 24 Seconds Incline works to minimize the effects of gravity on the watch; the use of extremely low density alloys such as Avional and titanium, which are employed in aeronautics, enable the tourbillon carriage to overcome the stresses imposed by the high rotation velocity. The tourbillon cage alone comprises 87 parts, yet it weighs just 0.39 grams.




    The superior hand finishing of Greubel Forsey’s movements is renowned and practiced with acute attention, as a quarter of the team at the firm’s atelier is purely devoted to this work. The architecturally inspired case, with its asymmetrical design, is perfectly balanced by the opposing niches that contain the tourbillon carriage and the power reserve sector. With an additional curved sapphire crystal set to the side of the case, it is possible to fully appreciate the tourbillon carriage in action, as it gives the impression of being almost magically detached from the gear train.

  • Greubel Forsey, Double Tourbillon Wristwatch. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    The Double Tourbillon 30° is Greubel Forsey's first invention, with one tourbillon cage inclined at 30° rotating in sixty seconds inside an outer cage with an orbit of four minutes. This visually mindboggling innovation won the International Chronometry Competition in 2011. The present lot is an Edition Historique and was made in a very limited series of only 11 pieces in pink gold.

  • Jaeger-LeCoultre, Spherotourbillon Wristwatch. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    This mammoth timepiece boasts a visually stunning bobbing regulator system with a cylindrical balance spring. The Sphérotourbillon rotates on two axes and is housed in a titanium cage rotating at a 20 degree incline.

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