Modern watchmaking owes a substantial debt to Abraham-Louis Breguet, but among his many technical, aesthetic and commercial inventions and innovations, the tourbillon is arguably the brightest shining star the legendary watchmaker ever fathered. Breguet patented the tourbillon on June 26, 1806, making today, World Tourbillon Day. Considering it took decades and a Great War for consumer preference to shift enough to embrace the wristwatch, it must have been a challenge even for Breguet to sell the idea of a tourbillon. Unlike modifying a little component here, or changing the colour of a screw there, putting the very heart of the watch within a cage to be spun round and round on its own power, is as far a departure from beloved convention as the east is from the west.
All the more reason why this cartwheeling was executed with great discretion in the first tourbillon watches, veiled behind an unopened dial. In his lifetime, Breguet made 35 tourbillon watches, of which 10 are known to exist today. Since the resurgence of mechanical watchmaking, this dearth of visual drama has been corrected; it’s been raining tourbillons for a couple of decades since — in singles, pairs, quartets, angled in more positions than we can count, and more often than not, brought to the dial-side where this stunning dance of equalizing gravity’s influence on a watch’s primary parts is played to the maximum audience it deserves. As beneficiaries, we pay homage to the skill and passion of watchmakers behind the great diversity of tourbillons available today, and to Breguet the visionary who started it all, by picking our favorites.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Carbon and Gold Double Flying Tourbillon
Best believe I picked Roger Dubuis, with features on the dial which will make you think of speed. Carbon and gold, tourbillons and the Geneva Seal; look closely, is that a gauge? Yes, that’s for the energy. With a hand-wound caliber and speedometer-like seconds counters; the watch is so appealing that I could look at it for hours.
– Kevin Cureau, Digital Editor, REVOLUTION Hong Kong
Ulysse Nardin Marine Mega Yacht
One of the main attractions of a tourbillon is its engrossing dynamism. The fascinating Ulysse Nardin Marine Mega Yacht is a most artistic boast of micro-mechanical execution, where every aesthetic detail and apparent function is inspired in equal parts by the marine chronometry and, appropriately, the most overwhelming yachts.
– Israel Ortega, Editor-in-Chief, REVOLUTION Mexico and Latin America
H. Moser Endeavour Tourbillon
Stars shine brightest in the absence of city lights; this comes to mind when staring at H. Moser’s brilliant, hypnotic Endeavour Tourbillon, where everything else has been stripped or smoothed away to give the tourbillon our undivided attention, harmoniously framed against a complementary fumé dial. Simple isn’t always best. Here, it’s sublime.
– Yeo Suan Futt, E-Commerce Editor, REVOLUTION Singapore
Girard-Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon
La Esmeralda tourbillon pocket watch, born in the 1880s, was so beautiful that Constant Girard patented her three distinct arrow-head golden bridges in 1884, so jealous rivals would not steal her looks. All La Esmeralda’s descendants all bear the same award-winning look of the three bridges, including the latest addition in the family, the Girard-Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon wristwatch, in 18K white gold, entirely hand-decorated to perfection.
– Stephanie Ip, Editor-in-Chief, REVOLUTION Hong Kong
Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision
If you don’t get the appeal of a tourbillon, try Greubel Forsey’s description of themselves as “sculptors of time, choreographers of the passing hours”. People love a tourbillon for the same reason they love any creation – not for what it does, but for how gloriously it goes about its business.
– Richard Holt, Editor-in-Chief, REVOLUTION UK
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon
Not just because it’s the thinnest automatic tourbillon watch in the world, nor the breakthrough watchmaking skill behind it. It’s the elegant and stylish design, gorgeous case with 110 honed facets, chic monotone, matte titanium finish; and most importantly, it rests perfectly on my wrist. How can I not love it?
– Taitan Chen, REVOLUTION China
The De Bethune Tourbillon
Three numbers to remember when you bring Denis Flageollet’s reinvention of the tourbillon to the table, for a horological tête-à-tête: a 0.18 gram silicon and titanium forged regulator assembly that comes together to give us the world’s lightest and very first 5Hz, 30-second tourbillon. Now, proceed to drop your mic and take a bow on behalf of the modern-day genius that is Flageollet.
– Sumit Nag, Online Editor, REVOLUTION
Breguet Classique 5367
Breguet is the Daenerys Targaryen of tourbillons, and the 5367 innovates and preserves his invention. It takes a particularly creative mind (read: twisted) like Abraham-Louis Breguet’s to dream up a rotating carriage solution for accurate timekeeping, now taken further with a peripheral winder, silicon escapement and titanium carriage. Respect.
– Darren Ho, Editor-in-Chief, REVOLUTION Southeast Asia/Oceania