Reanimating Tourbillon Technology

A tourbillon (French for ‘vortex’ or ‘whirlwind’) is the most intricate and iconic complication in haute horlogerie. An elaborate mechanical system for regulating the speed at which a watch ‘beats’, this ingenious complication overcomes the effects of gravity by placing the movement’s balance wheel and escapement inside a rotating cage. Revolutionary when it was invented in 1801, modern precision techniques, many developed by TAG Heuer, have made it obsolete. Yet the tourbillon remains a classic ‘novelty’ feature of many high-end luxury watches because, in its ornate complexity, usually visible through a window in the dial, it is the ultimate attention getter-a showcase of watchmaker virtuosity.

Beautifully complex but slow, imprecise and unnecessary: for these reasons, TAG Heuer, the most precision-driven, performance-obsessed of all the high-end luxury Swiss watch houses, had never made a tourbillon escapement watch. That is, until TAG Heuer’s Science and Engineering department, in its pursuit of zero-tolerance chronograph precision, took up the challenge of reinventing the tourbillon, making it not just a delight to look at but, like all TAG Heuer creations, unbelievably fast, precise, and avantgarde.The result is a mechanical wonder that breaks all records for speed and accuracy, and sets the stage for the first-ever dual-certifiable chronograph.