Baselworld 2013 preview…tri-axial tourbillon
***UPDATE: Tourbillon in Motion — VIDEO added***
Here’s a first look at Harry Winston’s latest “Histoire de Tourbillon”, the fourth such piece in a series that began in 2009. This main feature of the watch is an interesting tri-axial tourbillon positioned at 6 o’clock — envision a tourbillon cage fitted inside a tourbillon cage fitted inside a tourbillon cage, each rotating at different rates per minute (more on this below, and sorry, no video yet). The Histoire de Tourbillon 4 will be limited to just 20 pieces. Follow along below as I run down the various highlights of this new piece from Harry Winston. I will also show you a quick look back the Histoire de Tourbillon 1, 2 and 3 as well.
The Histoire de Tourbillon 4 has a cushion-shaped case measuring on the order of 47mm square. It is a mix of white gold and Zalium, Harry Winston’s proprietary alloy, and one that they use in many of their timepieces.
You can see the white gold on the top of the case, for example (mirror polished). The Zalium, DLC-treated, is used for the case band, arches, lugs and tourbillon bezel. You can see it has a matte, brushed finish to it.
The caseback is partially open, again in a mix of DLC-finished Zalium and white gold. The crown is white gold, with rubber grip.
The three-dimensional dial displays hours, minutes, power reserve and also interestingly there is a 300-second indicator on the tourbillon (that’s 5 minutes, y’all). Vaguely reminiscent of the Zenith Christophe Colomb, the triple tourbillon sites under a domed sapphire crystal at 6 o’clock. The thickness of the watch including the dome is 21.7mm.
The Movement – Caliber HW4501
The Caliber HW4501 is a 345-component, manual-wind mechanical movement with tri-axial tourbillon. It has two barrels which support a power reserve of 50 hours. The caliber a very substantial 40mm in diameter and 17.3mm thick.
The tourbillon has 134 components, including three cages. The innermost tourbillon rotates once every 45 seconds; the intermediate tourbillon rotates once every 75 seconds; the outermost tourbillon rotates once every 300 seconds. The goal here is to average out the ratekeeping errors caused by gravity, not unlike the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon (though that piece has two rather than three tourbillon cages).
The tourbillon components are made of both PVD-finished titanium and gold. The intermediate tourbillon cage is polished gold and also chamfered.
The main plate of the movement is titanium with a micro-blasted finish; the bridges are PVD-finished and chamfered (by hand, of course).
I have read at reputable sources that the Histoire de Tourbillon 3 was done by Complitime, as this piece may also be. When I met Stephen Forsey late last year, he handed me two business cards — one Complitime, one Greubel Forsey. Along with his partner Robert Greubel these men run not only the brand of their own namesake, but with Complitime they manufacture complications for other brands. There is no formal acknowledgement by HW nor Complitime, but that’s the “word on the street”, as some might say.