Friday, October 2, 2009

The Mind Bending Cabestan Winch Tourbillon Vertical

Perception of a time piece of this nature pulls one from the realms of common timekeeping. This grand specimen is nothing short of absolute mechanical brilliance. Jean-Francois Ruchonnet, a unique watch engineer, reinvented timekeeping creating vertical movement driven by a fusee and chain. The chain looks very much like that on a bicycle, but Mr. Ruchonnet drew his inspiration from a yacht. A yacht which incorporates a vertical winch system, moved by a crank. The force produced from the winch system is such that it has the power to hoist and adjust a sail or to raise the anchor.

The Cabestan Winch Tourbillon Vertical began as an idea which became reality back in 2007 thanks to Jean-Francois Ruchonnet and watchmaker, Vianney Halter. The first prototype was greeted with much enthusiasm and fanfare as well as a couple raised eyebrows. A watch like no other, no dial and no hour markers. Instead the hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve are displayed on four rotating aluminium drums, mounted on ball-bearings, at the four corners of the movement. Quite remarkable; however, incredibly a tourbillon is included next to the seconds drum. A Tourbillon was invented in 1795 by Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, to counter the effect gravity had on the movement of the watch. The actual premise regarding the effect of the Tourbillon is questionable; however, the tourbillon is becoming increasingly popular due to its mesmerizing beauty. The Tourbillon is a mechanism mastered by only the best watchmakers, and to incorporate a Tourbillon into the Cabestan Winch, is to achieve the impossible.
My favorite aspect of this watch is the Cabestan chain. The hand made chain comprises of 450 steel links and 150 rivets which provides constant torque to the movement. The chain is driven by the barrel and winds around fifth drum thus vertically crossing the entire mechanism. It takes 40 hours of labor to complete just one chain. The watch is wound and time is set via a tiny cranks much like the one found on a yacht. The crank locks onto a capstan to connect with the fusee to wind the watch and another capstan connects to the hour and minute drums. When not in use the crank fits into the folding buckle The watch boasts a 72 hour power reserve. The time set crank. The entire watch movement is protected by two thermo-formed Pyrex crystals.

Romaine Jerome was captivated by the Cebeston Winch Tourbillon and in 2008 incorporated the movement in a set of six "The Romaine Jerome Cabestan Titanic DNA Tourbillon watch" combining innovative haute horlogerie and artistic design. The Romain Jerome Cabestan Titanic DNA Tourbillon watch's case is contains actual oxidized material obtained from the Titanic shipwreck, fused to steel obtained from the Harland & Wolff shipyards, the area where the Titanic was built in the early 20th century.
The Cabestan 2 is already in the works. It is at the 3D conceptualisation stage, crucial to watch development. The Cabestan 2 ,with a chronograph, will utilize a hydraulic column wheel. The pushers will force liquid through pipes that run across bridges and thus under pressure will trigger the chronograph command. As if one tourbillon is not enough, the newer model will boast two vertical tourbillons. Unfortunately you will have to have a little patience to see the actual timepiece; the Cabestan 2 is scheduled for release in 2012.
By R. Van Halem

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