What is a Tourbillon watch ?

Posted by Faioki Blog on

This question has been answered many times over by various professionals and amateur watch experts in various forums dedicated to timepieces or otherwise. However people from all over the world are still asking this same question. We will try to debunk this in simple English. 

What is a Tourbillon watch ? can it be an automatic or manual watch ? is there a correlation between an automatic and a tourbillon? Gee these can be confusing......

No not really.... here is a simple breakdown from the beginning :-


1) Mechanical 2) Quartz 3) Digital

1) Mechanical ==>  Automatic or Manual winding. Everything in the watch are gear trains and springs , jewels, bridges ,wheels, screws basically. ( Fully Mechanical) 

2) Quartz ==> Microchip, battery, electric circult Quartz Oscillator, stepping motor. Gears (semi mechanical) 

3) Digital ===> Pure digital computer chip based. (pure digital) 

Now that you understand the above, the first two are analog dial and last one digital dial.  Or a combiination of two movements in the same watch 2) and 3) 

Watches have “ complications” meaning different functions of a watch. ie Timer / calendar / Chime / Monthly Moon representation / 24 hrs Sun Moon representation and finally Tourbillon or Carosell 

All the functions except Tourbillon can be represented in 1 or 2 above and also digitised. Tourbillon can only be built into mechanical watches.

So everyone can understand all the functions mentioned above right? except for Tourbillon ? 

So here comes the answer to this blog’s question. 

Tourbillon is a function of a watch and can be automatic or manual winding but not quartz or digital. 

So far so good, you may now ask so what is the function of a tourbillon?

Well put simply in a nutshell and in a layman’s term, it is a function built into a mechanical watch to offset the effect of gravity on the accuracy of the mechanical watch by rotating the escapement wheel and spring using a "cage" but this was iinvented in the era of pocket watches and not wristwatches. So put simply, it is pretty much obsolete as your hand will move amyway which will automatically provide the movement necessary to offset the gravity affecting the inside parts of the watch usually seen in the open circle or heart of the dial. 

To see the difference between authentic and lookalike tourbillon please refer to our other blog :

Click here 



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