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IN THE WHIRLWIND OF TIME
May 27, 2013 Innovations

In the whirlwind of time

Invented two centuries ago to improve accuracy, tourbillons enchant and fascinate more than ever. Over the last twenty years, they have set all other complications in the shadow and remain the most coveted.

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Nested with his five watchmakers in a luminous atelier inside the Audemars Piguet Museum in Le Brassus, Bruno Grand Chavin finishes and assembles what will later become tourbillons. Actually “enlighten them” would be a more fitting word.

While modern technology enhances accuracy and guarantees interchangeability of movement components there is no short cut yet for the finishing applied to each of them, the latter are exclusively carried out by hand and pushed to the limits of perfection. The same is true for their assembly. A distinction both collectors and watchmakers cherish equally.

A connoisseur’s eye spots in fraction of seconds the discerning yet pivotal differences in movement construction, finishing and decoration – attributes setting high grade timepieces aside of the rest. In this workshop passionate watchmakers use all their ‘Savoir-Faire’ to build timepieces given to them in spare parts.

As soon as each component fulfils its mission flawlessly, a step watchmakers refer to as ‘mise en fonction’, their expert hands are devoted to timing before performing with the art of decoration, a step which puts their signature on each of their pieces.

Tourbillon Watches

Tourbillon Watches

Tourbillon Watches
  • Tourbillon Watches

    Royal Oak TOURBILLON

    Hand-wound watch. Stainless steel case, blue dial, stainless steel bracelet.

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    Reference 26510ST.OO.1220ST.01 Thumbnail

    Calibre 2924 Manufacture

    Calibre 2924 Manufacture, front
    Front
    Calibre 2924 Manufacture, back
    Back
  • Tourbillon Watches

    Royal Oak TOURBILLON

    Hand-wound watch. 18-carat pink gold case, blue dial, 18-carat pink gold bracelet.

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    Reference 26510OR.OO.1220OR.01 Thumbnail

    Calibre 2924 Manufacture

    Calibre 2924 Manufacture, front
    Front
    Calibre 2924 Manufacture, back
    Back
  • Tourbillon Watches

    Jules Audemars LARGE DATE TOURBILLON

    Hand-wound tourbillon watch with large date and small seconds at 6 o'clock. 18-carat pink gold case, black dial, black strap.

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    Reference 26559OR.OO.D002CR.01 Thumbnail

    Calibre 2909 Manufacture

    Calibre 2909 Manufacture, front
    Front
    Calibre 2909 Manufacture, back
    Back
  • Tourbillon Watches

    Jules Audemars LARGE DATE TOURBILLON

    Hand-wound tourbillon watch with large date and small seconds at 6 o'clock. 18-carat pink gold case, silvered dial, brown strap.

    View Details
    Reference 26559OR.OO.D088CR.01 Thumbnail

    Calibre 2909 Manufacture

    Calibre 2909 Manufacture, front
    Front
    Calibre 2909 Manufacture, back
    Back
  • Tourbillon Watches

    Millenary Tourbillon Chronograph

    Hand-wound tourbillon chronograph with 24-hour power reserve indication. Forged carbon case, black dial, black strap. Limited edition of 120.

    View Details
    Reference 26152AU.OO.D002CR.01 Thumbnail

    Calibre 2884 Manufacture

    Calibre 2884 Manufacture, front
    Front
    Calibre 2884 Manufacture, back
    Back
  • IN THE WHIRLWIND OF TIME
    Bruno Grand Chavin finishes and assembles what will later become tourbillons
  • IN THE WHIRLWIND OF TIME
  • IN THE WHIRLWIND OF TIME
  • IN THE WHIRLWIND OF TIME
  • IN THE WHIRLWIND OF TIME

Nothing hinders the determination of these artisans, not even the certainty most of their work will remain unseen. Only when time for an overhaul will have come, will it be revealed and admired and this only by a tiny audience – the chosen one who will carry out the repair.

Working in Bruno’s atelier demands all skills a good watchmaker must have plus an extra shot of patience, dedication and expertise. In these premises, good will never be enough. Added up, the six watchmakers count 109 years of experience with Audemars Piguet of which 74 years are inside the tourbillon atelier.

The men at work behind the benches perpetuate a ‘Savoir-Faire’ handed over by their forefathers. Be it bevelling, finishing of edges and angles or black polish, each task is carried out until the result is flawless. Assembling the myriad of components a complicated timepiece is made of requires an excellent sense of memorization as well as an unusual visualization of space in addition to the skills and serenity distinguishing any watchmaker.

Compromise does not exist in their vocabulary. Although they do not overlook the benefits brought in by modernism, many of their gestures and techniques have not changed in the last century. Today the tourbillon atelier contributes in writing some of the most beautiful pages in Audemars Piguet’s history.