Here is an example of Andreas Strehler’s Trans-Axial Tourbillon*. First revealed in 2018, it is a consequential watch from one of the most technically proficient and creative watchmakers of the modern era. It was the only watch to transfer power from the mainsprings to the tourbillon through a co-axially mounted remontoire, giving the watch its name. It is beautifully finished, with all parts machined to marginal tolerances and finished expertly by hand.
Tourbillon still matters
The escapement and balance wheel, two core components at the heart of the watch, are especially sensitive to external disruption, such as shocks, magnetism or moisture. A particularly salient issue is gravity, which can disrupt timekeeping by pulling these components downwards. The effects of gravity are worsened when the timekeeping device is kept in a stationary position, therefore making the disruption more consistent.
This is an especially relevant issue in clocks, which by their very design don’t move, or in pocket watches, which often remain in the same position when stored in a pocket. Despite a wristwatch being worn on the wrist, and therefore remaining in motion, this disruption remains problematic. Indeed, our wrist often finds itself adopting similar positions, whereby gravity can pull down on the core components and affect timekeeping.
In a tourbillon, the escapement and balance wheel are mounted within a rotating cage, the purpose of which is to counteract the disruption caused by gravity. In essence, the regular rotation of the tourbillon cage is intended to average out any positional errors and maintain greater accuracy. It may sound relatively simple, but the execution is rather more complicated.