Bell & Ross BR01 Tourbillon
Later this week we will be presenting our “on-the-wrist” review of this watch from Chinese manufacturer, Longio. Whilst not yet on the mainstream radar this Hong Kong based brand is really making a concerted effort to break into the luxury watch market by offering watches that have been constructed fully in-house, including the automatic movement which features a tourbillon complication.
This got us thinking: what is the real value of a tourbillon and its associated variations? Will the introduction of these Chinese made alternatives impact negatively on this value or has the damage already been done through the excessive use of this not so rare complication by over-exuberant European brands attempting to establish their watch making credentials?
Undeniably the tourbillon has to be one of the most commonly used complications in watch-making today, though that’s not to say that its still not an impressive piece of engineering. Notwithstanding that fact, at its heart its purpose is purely aesthetic and offers no tangible benefit to the wearer other than something attractive to look at on the watch dial.
Breguet – the original tourbillon master
It should be acknowledged here though, that there are those who take the art of the Tourbillon to another level. Brands such as Breguet or individuals like Thomas Prescher are names that immediately spring to mind. Thomas’ mind-blowing creations including the Triple-Axis Flying Tourbillon and the Mysterious Automatic Double-Axis Tourbillon provide exemplary illustrations of what a true master is capable of achieving with the tourbillon complication.
However, it seems that for most brands the humble tourbillon is the complication most often called upon to help them make the step from mainstream watch maker into the world of haute horologerie. Arguably this is because of the known complications available (and trust us, there are many more yet to be invented, just look at Ludovic Ballouard’s gloriously original Upside Down watch) the tourbillon is one of the easiest to make relative to the level of impact it has on the wearer. For example, a perpetual calendar, whilst far more useful simply does not have the same visual appeal as a flying tourbillon complication, although many would say that the latter is a redundant technology.
Chinese-made Longio Telamon Diving Watch with Classic Tourbillon complication
So this takes us back to our original question, what is the real value of a tourbillon complication?
In our opinion, the tourbillon is so widely used now that the introduction of Chinese brands which feature this complication (and there are many more than just Longio) will only have a marginal impact on the overall value of the tourbillon. Certainly it will make this attractive complication far more accessible to mainstream consumers but it seems to us that the European brands are doing more than enough to diminish the value of this centuries-old masterpiece of engineering that the impact will simply not be that noticeable.
Which brings us to our next question: is the inclusion of this somewhat common complication enough for a Chinese brand to break into the luxury market?
Again, in our humble opinions we think not. Yes, the fact that Chinese manufacturers have been able to create a tourbillon movement of their own (albeit a not too accurate one at +/- 30 seconds a day) should send up red flags over in Switzerland, but is it really enough to make these brands stand-out? Where is the creativity? European manufacturers have been incorporating tourbillon complications into their high-end timepieces for several decades, in our opinion if Chinese manufacturers really want to have a fighting chance at the upper-end of the market they really need to do something dramatically different!
The Santos 100 by Cartier with tourbillon complication
Of course we could be completely wrong. That’s where you come in, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below, whether you agree with us or not. It would be really great getting some discussion going on this topic as we are very curious to hear what you think!
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About the Author (Author Profile)Tom is the founder and editor of The Watch Lounge. Together with his team he is dedicated to bringing you the best, original content you won't find anywhere else on the net.
Sites That Link to this Post
- The Alpina Extreme Tourbillon Regulator Manufacture | The Watch Lounge – the Online Watch Lover's Magazine | February 18, 2010
- On-The-Wrist Review: Longio SG3824A Flying Tourbillon | The Watch Lounge – the Online Watch Lover's Magazine | March 6, 2010
- Wow Watch Wednesday: Jean Dunand Grande Complication | The Watch Lounge – the Online Watch Lover's Magazine | May 19, 2010