One of the most sought-after types of watches, tourbillon watches are the envy of many in the watch world. When you’re wearing one, you know you’ve arrived. And people who are in the know will notice. But if you’re a young, wide-eyed watch enthusiast looking for the best in class in the category, it can become a tall order once you find out your choices.
And there are a lot of them. While tourbillon watches can fetch quite the pretty penny, it’s one of the few watch types in the world where human craftsmanship is at its finest, so you’ll be literally wearing one of humankind’s best efforts. But with a bevy of choices before you, how do you choose? The answer lies in knowing how the industry works.
Invented in the 1700s by the man who’ll soon found the famous watch house Breguet, the tourbillon is one of the most complicated complications in watches. Gravity has always been a challenge for mechanical watchmakers because it affects the movement’s precision. A tourbillon works by making the escapement and balance wheel work together in the same rotating cage.
Harry Winston Histoire De Tourbillon 9
One of the more pulled back when it comes to presentation among the watches in this list, the Histoire De Tourbillon 9 is a beast under the hood. Harry Winston, the watch company, has always been predilected to making classically beautiful watches, but with a robust movement as well.
In its ninth iteration, the Histoire De Tourbillon boasts of retro jumping hours, a power reserve of fewer than two days, and an escapement and balance wheel that adjust to each other. There are three of them in this watch, which is not what you’ll be paying if you’re looking for the best watches under $1000, and with the skeleton watch face, you have a stellar first-class view of how the gears work with each other.
Breguet Classic Tourbillon
No one beats the classic. Thin, uncluttered, and without the styling choices of the other tourbillon watches in this list, the Breguet Classic Tourbillon is in a class of its own. What you get on the watch face is a classic white dial with a peekaboo view of the tourbillon, balanced ever so off-center with the brand’s logo at the top.
There is an air to this watch that screams exquisite, with a finishing of 18k rose gold both on the case’s front and back. Available in 42mm, it’s the perfect watch for everyday use – not too shabby, not too flashy. The tourbillon is nestled in the 5th and 6th hour, an exciting feature that started on the first iterations of this watch.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon
Arguably the best tourbillon watch ever made, the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon by Jaeger-LeCoultre is a myth among tourbillon watches. With at least 33 jewels laid in its case and dial, it’s a luxury timepiece if you’ve ever seen one. Jaeger-LeCoultre put in the best inhouse movement with tourbillon capabilities, leather strap plus 18k gold in the clasp and case. What more can you ask for?
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Chronograph Open worked
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillion Chronograph is the watch you buy when you want to impress. A tourbillon, a chronograph, and an open-worked one at that? Plus, the Audemars Piguet branding? It’s too lavish a watch if one is to be perfectly honest. While the presentation of the Royal Oak is one of the discerning tastes, it’s a classic in its way.
Audemars has been known to lay it all on their watches, opting for pizzaz and not pulling back. If you’re the type to go all out, this is the watch that will make your friends and colleagues’ eyes go round. A favorite among rappers, the people around you will honestly think you’ve gone exquisitely mad and is going through a phase. But in the end, whatever floats your boat.
Let’s get it out there: Tourbillon watches are expensive. But as luxury watches go, it’s also an investment. You’re getting something that’s truly a wonder, and with the improvements that have been done to the movement, the modern iterations are more technically-adept than ever. If you’re getting your first luxury watch, a tourbillon may seem ambitious, but if you’re willing to spend, why not?