Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grand Complications of SIHH 2012. The Hypnotic Duomètre á Sphérotourbillon

This year's SIHH 2012 is indeed a complicated one, which in this case is a very good thing.  I remember the apprehensive SIHH 2010 show - slightly dampened in the wake of an uncertain economic climate. Many watch companies dwelt within the security of its well known popular collections.  There was little temerity and cheaper steel versions were favored over precious metals.     In 2010,  I found myself scanning the horizon for the exorbitant intricate grand complications - which existed - but were far fewer than the previous years.
 The SIHH 2012 is flooded with complications, a testament to the more positive outlook of the luxury watch industry as a whole possibly due to the recent growth in the demand for luxury items in India and China.
  Companies have not only released complicated watches, but  Grand complications, which are horological masterpieces created to represent the superior watch making capabilities of a particular company. 

A Grand Complication must have at least three complications to achieve the title such as the famous Patek Phillipe Sky Moon Tourbillon .

One fine example presented at this years SIHH  by Jaeger LeCoultre is the profoundly exquisite and exceedingly complicated Duomètre á Sphérotourbillon encompassing a multi-axis tourbillon. - view video below.

  • The Tourbillon is  an hypnotic complication invented in 1795 by French watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, a century after Newton defined gravity. Breguet reasoned that as a result of the constant position of the vertical position of the pocket watch, the balance spring is confounded by the effect of gravity effecting the accuracy of the watch. This error could be compensated with a tourbillion whereby the escapement, balance wheel, and balance spring is placed in a rotating carriage which turns once per minute on its own axis. Whether the tourbillon actually improves the precision of a watch is debatable (and I would love any comments on this),   however, it is no doubt, a complication only achieved by exceptional watch makers, a right of passage ,if you will, dividing the serious watch collectors from the novices. It has survived for hundreds of years as a complication unto itself and has become a symbol of achievement in watch making excellence. Although its functionality is questionable, different versions of the tourbillon has achieved patent after patent.  It is, after all, highly recognized as a mark of horological achievement. 

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