The tourbillon watch

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The Tourbillon Watch

Like car manufacturers or yacht engineers, high-end watchmakers thrive on achieving ever-more mind-boggling feats of engineering. Except that in watchmaking it is on a micro scale. The skill of these (mainly Swiss) technicians is their ability to keep mechanisms small and light while improving the watches’ functionality; this they do by creating “complications”, or additional mechanical layers. The most complex of all of these complications is the tourbillon, invented by an Englishman to counter the effects of gravity on timekeeping accuracy and developed and patented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801. Nothing is quite so desirable as a watch with a tourbillon. Why? Because the more complicated a watch, the harder it is to make and the fewer there are produced. The Breguet Messidor Tourbillon, costs $180,000. “An array of meticulously finished parts lovingly polished, chamfered, chased and scored with parallel decorative strokes by the most versatile of all instruments, the human hand.”