Robb Design Portfolio: Do the Locomotion

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The tourbillon mechanism was invented more than 200 years ago to diminish gravity’s effect on a watch’s precision. But instead of diffusing gravity’s force, Harry Winston’s Tourbillon Glissiere, which features a flying tourbillon and linear power reserve indicator, harnesses it. Evoking the wheels and pistons of a steam locomotive, the Glissiere’s two platinum blocks glide back and forth across ultrasmooth rails to engage a ratcheted winding system. To reduce the shock created by the blocks’ striking action, the watch’s designers added rubber to the interior of the case—a seemingly simple solution that required six months of trial and error to perfect. While solving that problem, Hamdi Chatti, executive vice president of production for Harry Winston Rare Timepieces (800.988.4110, www­, who spent two years developing the watch with complication specialist Christophe Claret, also had to change the mind-set of master watchmakers trained to work with only circular forms. “Any time we encountered a problem with the linear concept, they came back to me and said, ‘We should make it round,’ ” explains Chatti. “Round exists already, but no one had done this before.”

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