On June 26, 215 years ago, famed watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet patented the first tourbillon watch complication. Recognizing the precision-sapping effect of gravity on watches, Breguet designed a rotating cage in which he placed the watch’s entire escapement—the mechanism most sensitive to gravity. This allowed gravity to affect the escapement from all angles as the cage completes its one-minute rotation, effectively equalizing the inaccuracies it introduces, making the watch more precise.
Since then, the tourbillon has remained one of the hallmarks of fine watchmaking, with recent years showing renewed popularity. Here are 10 recent examples of the complication at the top of its game. —John Lyon