The tourbillon is an invention that has fascinated watch lovers for ages. Even today, the whirlwind movement transports those with an eye for technicality in watches, into a world of mechanical wonder. It is not surprising then, that constructing this complication into the watch is something that the nimblest of master watchmakers can accomplish. It is a task that requires immense dexterity and prowess.
In 2019, at the SIHH fair, there was one watch that fascinated everybody and was most talked about- the Gyrotourbillon. But as we admire the sheer skills that went into making its varied renditions, it is important to go back into the past to the life and times of Antoine LeCoultre. It was in the year 1844 when he presented his millionometer, which opened new dimensions to the tourbillon creation with even greater accuracy. It is thus not surprising that Jaeger-LeCoultre’s tourbillons have regularly beaten all records for precision. At the time, the legendary calibre 170, with its three-arm tourbillon and diameter of 22.40 mm, was a game changer. However, in the year 2004, precision reached new heights.
The spherical tourbillon
The spherical tourbillon Gyrotourbillon I is no less than a work of art. In Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Calibre 177, the three-dimensional rotations of the balance- wheel are at the very heart of an extraordinary horological invention. The ultra-light external carriage makes a complete turn about its axis every sixty seconds. The internal carriage which supports the balance-wheel, balance-spring and escapement rotates far more rapidly – every 24 seconds to be exact, hence completing 2.5 turns per minute.
For a true watchmaker, the challenges have to stretch! The timepiece thus incorporates the perpetual calendar with retrograde hands. This is complex in itself. But, this is not the end. The Gyrotourbillon 1 introduces the equation of time- a complication that gives the true time…in the true sense. The actual but largely ignored difference between mean and true solar time is thus represented by the equation of time.
If the technicalities of the watch are so intense, how can the aesthetics be left behind? The fine finishing is testimony to the watchmaking prowess of the manufacture. But for the watch lover, the ultimate treat is observing the workings on the beautiful dial and the case back as well. A sapphire-crystal case-back reveals the functioning of a retrograde leap-year indicator. Both the lower and upper parts of the dial also playfully reveal glimpses of the internal workings.
Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon
The Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon, a Grande Complication model celebrated the Reverso’s 85th anniversary in style, in the year 2016. Indeed, what better way to mark such a special milestone?
A veritable masterpiece showcasing the watchmaking skills and rare crafts cultivated by Jaeger-LeCoultre, here is a stellar creation, which is 30% trimmer in terms of both width and thickness. The timepiece is equipped with the manually-wound Calibre 179, entirely developed and produced in the Manufacture. Since we talk about the Reverso here, we can expect that the magic reveals itself on both faces of the watch! The front of the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon features a finely grained white round dial swept over by blued steel Dauphine-type hands and evoking the noblest traditions of horological sophistication. Swivelling the case to savour a second face, offers an equally enticing experience.
Vividly embodying the signature horological sophistication of Jaeger-LeCoultre on both faces, it springs a number of surprises including an entirely openworked back dial. Is this not the very best way of celebrating the Reverso?
The future is present
Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel
This year, this watch was the highlight piece for many at the SIHH fair. It is the first multi-axis tourbillon with a constant-force mechanism, Westminster chime and perpetual calendar. The Westminster carillon minute repeater replicates the chime of the famed Big Ben clock tower in London, with a silence-reduction mechanism to optimise melody cadence.
The fifth multi-axis tourbillon from Jaeger-LeCoultre, comes with a size reduction in the redesigned tourbillon component to create a more wearable watch. the watch also incorporates a one-minute constant-force mechanism to provide consistent energy to the sensitive tourbillon, resulting in a precisely jumping minute hand and a more precise minute repeater mechanism.
This is indeed a resolutely modern watch that bears the finesse of centuries old craftsmanship and heritage. This is a sleek new contemporary aesthetic that pairs traditional haut-de-gamme finishing with a modern, wearable feel.
This watch is also special as it marks fifteen years of improving and transforming traditional complications. It really adapts these transformations to the wrist. There is the fine sound of the minute repeater. The perpetual calendar is new. It marks all that watch lovers have loved over the years. It is full of technical wonders and the design and finishing also shows evolution, which befits a brand of this heritage.
Jaeger-LeCoultre has shown that the manufacture can create very complicated watches, that can be used every day without any trouble! This spirit is expressed very well in the Gyrotourbillon. Indeed, they present the future right in the present!