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Q: Who Was Alfred Helwig? A: Inventor Of The Flying Tourbillon | Quill & Pad

Q: Who Was Alfred Helwig? A: Inventor Of The Flying Tourbillon | Quill & Pad

Abraham-Louis Breguet created an achievement in the historical backdrop of watchmaking when he developed the tourbillon around 1781, securing his innovation with a French patent in 1801. Compensating for a pocket watch’s deviation in rate brought about by gravity, he housed the equilibrium and escapement in a delicate enclosure that rotated 360 degrees on its pivot like clockwork to compensate for the rate distinction in various positions and better disperse lubrication oil.

Close to 120 years later, a “flying” variation of the tourbillon was created at the German School of Watchmaking in Glashütte under the tutelage of expert watchmaker Alfred Helwig (1886-1974).

Helwig attended the German School of Watchmaking in Glashütte , graduating in 1905. From 1906 he worked at Glashütte’s Präzisions-Uhren-Fabrik (which later became Urofa ) and from 1908 at Hamburger Chronometerwerke (part of Wempe ). In 1911, having gotten back to Glashütte, he turned into an instructor at the school and all the while opened his own workshop.

As an educator and ever-inquisitive and motivated watchmaker, Helwig kept on investigating the craft of horology, specializing in fine change and tourbillons. In 1920, along with a few of his understudies concentrating to become ace watchmakers, he created a flying tourbillon that didn’t need a top supporting bridge.

This didn’t come suddenly: after Breguet’s ten-year period of being the sole client until his patent terminated, the tourbillon was made and investigated in Switzerland, England, and Germany. The latter was surprisingly overflowing with experimentation: Friedrich Vetterlein put a chain and fusée in a tourbillon development in 1905, and Bruno Reichert added a planetary stuff in 1921. Vetterlein’s work permitted Helwig to proceed with the improvement interaction and advance the tourbillon to the point of “flying.”

The distinction between a “typical” and a “flying” tourbillon is that the confine containing the equilibrium and escapement is cantilevered, which means upheld on one side in particular, a rule Helwig developed to better the tourbillon’s rate.

Flying tourbillon of the Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Tourbillon

A fortunate symptom of the flying tourbillon design is that the absence of a top supporting scaffold offers an unrestricted view into the persistently rotating escapement.

From 1937 Helwig was moved to innovative work, in this way finishing his showing vocation, however en route he composed Die Feinstellung der Uhren , which was simply distributed in 1950 because of World War II and its eventual outcomes, among other specialized books on watchmaking and the instructing of watchmaking.

Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Tourbillon before Alfred Helwig’s flying tourbillon escapement model

The flying tourbillon turned out to be somewhat normal for Glashütte and lives on in exceptionally special watches today, including Glashütte Original’s Senator Chronometer Tourbillon presented in 2019.

Today the verifiable German School of Watchmaking in Glashütte building is utilized as a cutting edge museum for the city’s watchmaking industry rather than an educational foundation. The in-house watchmaking school at Glashütte Original currently bears Helwig’s name: the Alfred Helwig School of Watchmaking .

Original flying tourbillon model by Alfred Helwig from 1927

A flying tourbillon escapement model by Alfred Helwig from 1927

The German Watch Museum Glashütte obtained an original flying tourbillon model (German: Gangmodell) at the bartering of Professor Thomas Engel’s watch assortment by Antiquorum in 2001. Alfred Helwig had made it at the German School of Watchmaking in Glashütte in 1927.

Engel was a celebrated physicist who turned out to be notable for his work in polymer research. He was additionally a self-teacher watchmaker and enthusiastic watch collector.

The 21 cm model demonstrates the way the flying tourbillon that Helwig concocted works. Showing the generally little instrument in an enormous, entirely obvious rendition, this encouraging guide has an appeal all its own. Watchmakers at Glashütte Original used to produce these models on solicitation until the Swatch Group takeover of the brand in 2000.

The German Watch Museum Glashütte likewise has different things by Helwig on exhibit, for example, an exquisite gold pocket watch he made for his mom in 1905.

Special Alfred Helwig exhibition at the German Watch Museum Glashütte in July 2011

On July 5, 2011, the museum opened a special exhibit called “Alfred Helwig – His Life and Effect on the Art of Watchmaking” out of appreciation for the commemoration of his 125th birthday. It ran until October of that year.

Even however that specific exhibition is long finished, the museum actually has numerous things on show by Alfred Helwig that Glashütte can – and will – never forget.

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