— They say it counteracts the negative effects of gravity on a movement’s accuracy. But what does it all mean and how does it work exactly?
Some phrases are printed so many times they end up not making any sense anymore. “The tourbillon counteracts the negative effects of gravity on a movement’s accuracy” is the most famous one in Rolex Replica UK watchmaking. By fear of being too technical and therefore bore their audience to death, by need to produce concise press releases and by force of habit, most brands do not bother explaining what these negative effects are and how the tourbillon solves the problem. Nor do they tell you it doesn’t solve it completely.
In order to understand all these issues, one must go to the heart of the movement, where the measurement of time takes place : the balance wheel/hairspring system. The spring propels the wheel back and forth as it oscillates (at a speed measured in Hz or vibrations per hour). The balance wheel’s purpose is to spin, something the hairspring cannot do. When the spring is fully wound and when it is fully unwound, the balance wheel is about to invert its course and comes to a halt. It doesn’t have inertia and it is therefore weak in the face of a shock, a movement from the wrist or body. Any change at that moment alters the frequency of the movement, by a millisecond maybe. But a typical balance wheel inverts its course 1.3 million times a day. And we are constantly moving. That is a lot of disturbance when added up over weeks. That is the primary source of inaccuracy in a movement and the tourbillon cannot solve it. Gravity has no part in it, we do. Life does.
Now let’s get to the part where the tourbillon is actually useful. The tourbillon was invented around 1800 by M. Breguet. At the time, cheap replica watches were never lying flat on a wrist but always worn crown up in a pocket. The balance wheel stood in vertical position. So when the balance wheel needed to restart its course up after coming to a halt, it had to fight against gravity that wants to keep it down. By the time the hairspring had given the balance wheel the proper pace, it had already started being late. And that happened millions of times per week. The effect is even a little more sneaky that just that. If the balance wheel is gaining momentum going down, along with gravity, it is being accelerated beyond its normal speed. Either too fast, either too slow, gravity makes everything unpredictable and keeps altering the conditions the fake watches for sale works in.
The tourbillon is a system that puts the whole escapement (hairspring, balance wheel, anchor and anchor wheel) in a cage and makes that cage rotate. The escapement is spinning (on or about its axis) while oscillating. Therefore, the balance wheel is put in an infinite number of vertical positions. The time the hairspring spends struggling against gravity is equal to that when it benefits from it and to all intermediate positions. The irregularities due to vertical positions are evened out. That levels the playing field for the watchmaker, but makes his work all the harder. Instead of regulating the movement in four, five or six static positions, as is indicated on a movement, he has to do what is called a dynamic regulation : he tweaks the hairspring and balance wheel in ever changing positions. He makes an average of every position the hairspring is placed in and acts accordingly in order to reach maximum accuracy. This is why a tourbillon is so expensive. It not only requires a hundred or so very small and complex components to be made, assembled, polished and bevelled. It also takes a very long time for a very good watchmaker to be put to proper use.
But cheap replica watches are not worn in a pocket anymore. 99.9% of them are wristwatches, so they are constantly changing position as we move. As a matter of fact, we are a tourbillon. The problem is we are not a very reliable one. We sometimes stand still, our arms rest as we stand, sit, take the occasional nap. There’s nothing a watchmaker loves more that stable conditions. So came the need to find the average angle our wrists rest at. It is somewhere 20 and 30 degrees and a few brands have designed askew tourbillons to lay flat, or closer to flat, for a longer moment, hoping to increase a watch’s accuracy in the long run.
In order to increase the tourbillon’s efficiency, two more sophisticated subspecies were invented. The most spectacular and sophisticated is the multidimensional tourbillon. The more positions the hairspring is placed in, the better. A flat, regular tourbillon places the hairspring somewhere on a disc. A multidimensional places it on a sphere. It makes the average position the watchmaker needs more reliable. But once again, his work is made even harder. A third approach is to play with the speed at which the cage rotates. Typically, it is a one-minute revolution. It makes things easy because it then acts as a seconds gear. Others make it slow because it is more majestic and a little less energy-consuming. Some make it faster : 30 seconds, 24 seconds, the idea is that the faster it goes, the more positions it finds itself in, the more detailed the average is.
The tourbillon is all about finding a middle ground, something stable to rely on, however complex, in the shaky environment a Omega Replica UK watch operates in. It ended up being so efficient that it won many a chronometry prize during the 1800’s and 1900’s. But it was so complex to manufacture and regulate that it remained an exception until the late 1990’s. Then, with the help of high end manufacturing robots, computer assisted design and lots of wealthy clients, it became a must-have. So much so that it became more and more common and … ended up not making any sense anymore because it was not regulated properly.