For admirers of fine mechanical watches, the tourbillon escapement developed by the shrewd Abraham-Louis Breguet to compensate for the negative impact of gravity on the accuracy of pocket watch regulators needs no further explanation.
For over 200 years the little “hurricane,” as its name in French literally translates to, has knocked some people’s socks off and warmed hearts. Watching the filigreed parts comprising the escapement and balance wheel inside a miniscule cage usually rotating at a steady pace of 60 seconds is an entrancing, if not to say a mesmerizing, experience.
Despite the many technical advancements of watchmakers today, still just the most talented are able to plan and craft a tourbillon. Also, while tourbillons have appreciated a phenomenal flood since the 2010s – which may appear to be at occasions such as altogether too much pointless excess – they are still relatively rare in the larger extent of things.
Glashütte Original is flying high with tourbillons
One solid player in this league is Glashütte Original. As the official replacement of Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB), which joined all local manufacturers during the socialist years of the German Democratic Republic (for additional on that, see 175 Years Of Watchmaking In Glashütte: A History Of Fine German Watchmaking ), Glashütte Original not just has a particularly solid bond with the historical backdrop of the Saxon watchmaking city, yet additionally with the tourbillon – or, all the more definitely, the flying tourbillon.
In 1995, the newly privatized firm presented the principal flying tourbillon in a wristwatch, which was named for its innovator, Alfred Helwig (1886–1874), quite possibly the most talented watchmakers throughout the entire existence of Glashütte. A specialist in chronometry and an author of specialist literature, from 1913 to 1944 Helwig was most importantly a dedicated teacher at the town’s watchmaking school, a technical research organization and favorable place for youthful talents established in 1884 by Moritz Grossmann. During these three decades, he taught in excess of 800 hundred students.
The most important subject in the educational plan was the improvement of exactness – the pith of horology, which was particularly important during Glashütte’s era of observation tickers and marine chronometers previously and during the two world encompassing wars. Those profoundly specialized and too accurate watches were crucial for boat and aircraft navigation.
A masterpiece in the master class
Together with his master watchmaker understudies, he built up several exceptionally accurate constant-power tickers confirmed for their exactness at the German Hydrographical Office (Deutsche Seewarte Hamburg), around then the organization for marine chronometers and observation checks in German-speaking Europe. His most famous development was the flying tourbillon from 1920, a sophisticated build that was anchored on one side as it were. Renouncing a top scaffold, the open development rotates around its own axis once consistently – the continuous view placing this exceptionally sophisticated regulating mechanism in the spotlight.
With the new Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 – Limited Edition , Glashütte Original indeed gestures to the historical backdrop of the notable figure and his development. The brand has given several recognitions throughout the long term, the latest having come about in 2019. Featuring a flying tourbillon with hacking seconds, zero-reset, and moment ratcheting for exact time setting, this combination in the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon – Limited Edition was a world’s first and holds two patents.
Sophisticated straightforwardness meets technical complexity
Like the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon, the Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 – Limited Edition is restricted to 25 pieces just and sure to appeal to knowing authorities. Introduced in a 40 mm pink gold case framing a gold, silver-grained dial with a railroad chapter ring, applied gold files and baton-style hands, it offers the clean, particular plan of watches that assisted sailors with navigating the 1920s, however with a cutting edge wind. The layout, with a noticeable subsidiary seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, is extremely balanced and exceptionally legible.
The Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 oozes a stark aura of agelessness and understatement, anyway the tourbillon cannot be seen on the dial side of the watch. Just a small word found in the subsidiary seconds’ dial gives a clue as to this current watch’s technical prowess.
To a few enthusiasts, this approach of concealing the mechanical treasure may appear to be very unusual, if not to say strange, since in present day watchmaking the tourbillon is especially about feel. They want an unhampered view to the mechanical spectacle that a tourbillon in general, and a flying tourbillon in particular, gives. Some may even argue that perceivability is the entire reason. While this is the first occasion when that Glashütte Original has decided to cover a tourbillon by the dial, brands including Patek Philippe and Laurent Ferrier frequently cover their tourbillons dial side, offering a perspective on them from the back only.
Turning the Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 – Limited Edition over, the flying tourbillon comes to full life through the display case back, appearing to hover above the main plate at the 6 o’clock position. Weighing just 0.2 grams, it comprises many finely completed components that are painstakingly decorated and assembled by hand.
The same is valid for different parts of manually twisted Caliber 54-01, which is fine adjusted via regulation screws and sports a liberal force save of 100 hours. This masterpiece of Saxon watchmaking features the typical Glashütte three-quarter plate with Glashütte ribbing, blued screws, engravings, slanted edges, and screw-mounted gold chatons.
No matter what part you see, you will find both beauty and brains.
For more information, please visit www.glashuette-original.com/assortment/senator/alfred-helwig-tourbillon-1920-restricted version .
Quick Facts Glashütte Original Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 – Limited Edition
Case: 40 x 13 mm, pink gold
Development: automatic Caliber 54-01 with one-minute flying tourbillon, 3 Hz/21,600 vph recurrence, 100-hour power save, 2 diamond endstones
Capacities: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds
Limitation: 25 pieces
Cost: €120,000/€116,970 inside Germany
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