Vortex on watch: what's the use of it?

Whirlwind within a watch: What is it for?-Charlie Paris

Tourbillon, chronograph, power reserve, GMT ... so many terms that you have come across while reading the technical characteristics of watches or that you have heard about without necessarily knowing what is behind them. The tourbillon is one of the watch complications to know and Charlie Paris helps you see more clearly.

  1. What is a tourbillon on a mechanical watch?
  2. A little historical look back at the first tourbillons
  3. The whirlwind nowadays
  4. What is the use of the tourbillon on a mechanical watch today?


1. What is a tourbillon on a mechanical watch?

A tourbillon is a horological complication whose primary purpose is to reduce the effect of gravity on the functioning of amechanical watch. By reducing the effect of gravity on the movement of a mechanical watch, the latter becomes more precise.


2. A little historical review of the first tourbillons

The whirlwind is a complication that arose when Abraham-Louis Breguetnoted at the end of the 18thth century that the mechanical watches of his time were systematically ahead or behind.

This shift was caused by the earth gravity. Indeed at that time the watches were pocket watches, which were worn in a pocket and therefore were systematically in a vertical position. Thus the balance and the hairspring, also called regulating organs of a watch, were, under the effect of gravity, more attracted to the ground, and the oscillation effected by the balance was no longer as regular.

Do you want to learn more about the history of timepieces? Find out how we went from sundial to the clocks, firsts mechanical watches to the quartz watches, in another of our blog posts.

With the first tourbillon by Abraham Louis Breguet, the idea was to allow the balance not to oscillate only in a vertical position but indeed in 360 °, which would compensate for the phenomenon of gravity. It was therefore in 1801 that he filed a patent for the first tourbillon, but this technical feat was not revealed to the general public until 1806.

The tourbillon of a mechanical watch is a cage containing the balance, the hairspring and the escapement system. This cage spins on itself and completes a full rotation in one minute.


3. The whirlwind nowadays

Since then, the tourbillon present in a mechanical watch has never ceased to be revisited and improved by the major watchmaking houses. So at the end of the 20th century it was determined that the tourbillon would be more effective if it was inclined at 30 degrees, then the tourbillons began to rotate in 3 axes like the Gyrotourbillon by Jaeger LeCoultre.


4. What is the use of the tourbillon on a mechanical watch today?

It seems important to clarify that with the advent of the wristwatch at the beginning of the 20thcentury, the need for the tourbillon to gain precision has become less obvious. In fact, when a watch is worn on the wrist, it is never in the same position, so the effects of gravity are naturally compensated for.

Whether it is for amen watch, aLadies watch, and especially for aautomatic watch, having a tourbillon in your watch remains a symbol of fine watchmaking, the witness of real watchmaking expertise, the complexity of which never ceases to fascinate and amaze us!

Since 2014, our Made in France watchesare intended to support you during your watchmaking evolution. We hope to release a tourbillon watch from Charlie Paris soon!

 men's automatic watch

men's automatic watch

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