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Small review of my Breguet Tourbillon


Pix
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Hi Folks,

after a small teaser with this movie, it is time to come with a pictorial and a brief review of one of my latest aquisitions.

1. So, how did I go to a Chinese Tourbillon ?

Well, that's a long story : I have always wanted to own such a noble complication in my collection, as, Chinese or not, these movements look like real jewels. They do not copy an existing movement, but are a development by themselves. "They". Because there are actually many variations, which can be summarized as follows (source)

To make it as short as possible :

History

The tourbillon was invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795 as a means of correcting positional errors in chronometer pocket-watches. For the next century it served this practical function in the highest grade of watches. The advent of the wristwatch rendered the 2-dimensional correction of the tourbillon obsolete.

In the mid-1980s, after quartz watches had become the norm on most markets, there was a revival of interest in mechanical watches as a niche/luxury/ special-interest market. The tourbillon makes a comeback ; not as a practical enhancement, but simply an expression of the watchmaker's craft.

The first Chinese tourbillon was the 1993 'Mystery Tourbillon' by Hong Kong's master watchmaker Kiu Tai Yu, formerly of the Suzhou Watch Factory. Master Kiu's tourbillons may be considered pure art as they were never intended for general sale. In 1995 the Beijing Watch Factory created their first tourbillon prototype however this was not developed for production.

Current Chinese Developments

Beijing TB01-2 : In 1995, the Beijing Watch Factory revisited the tourbillon concept and reworked it for limited production. The result was the TB01-2 flying carrousel-tourbillon, currently the most expensive production Chinese tourbillon on the market. It features a titanium flying tourbillon cage, and is usually elaborately decorated on both dial and movement. Beijing have also developed a double-tourbillon.

Liaoning 5010 : Costing much less and thus reaching a much wider market, this calibre has enjoyed great success cased-up by Million Smart Enterprises for a variety of new international brands.

Shanghai : The Shanghai Watch Industry Corporation launched their Classic Tourbillon as an exclusive Shanghai-branded product only, however they have since followed the trend and offered this somewhat expensive movement for sale to other watch companies. Returning to Breguet's original idea, this movement features a large balance-wheel on a common axis to the tourbillon cage. In 2007 Shanghai revealed their amazing Orbital Tourbillon, which features either one or two tourbillons mounted on a 12-hour carrousel platform.

PTS Resources FD-3032 : This was the first Chinese tourbillon to be reviewed online. Clearly built to a budget, and featuring components from the humble Standard movement, it is nonetheless as impressive as any tourbillon that actually works. In 2007 PTS presented a prototype '12 Hour Karrousel' movement of unusual design and much higher grade.

Sea-Gull ST80 : Most Chinese tourbillons owe something to the Blancpain flying carrousel-tourbillon design, but this is the one with the closest physical resemblance. Of higher quality than all but the TB01-2, the ST80 is still very competitively priced. The newer ST82 features a common axis tourbillon similar to the Shanghai. Auto-winding is now available on both. In 2006 Sea-Gull released their ST8080 double tourbillon withone carrousel-tourbillon and one common axis.

Dixmont DG-8000 : A latecomer to the field, Dixmont-Guangzhou have focussed on auto-winding on their tourbillons. The escapement appears so similar to that of the ST80 that it is likely that they buy Sea-Gull parts for their movements. The DG-8001 is similar but with a common-axis tourbillon.

Tourbillon terminology

Tourbillon

In the tourbillon, invented by Breguet in 1795, the escapement (balance, escape wheel, etc.) is mounted on a carriage which carries a pinion driven by the third wheel. The fourth wheel is fixed and is concentric with the carriage shaft. The escape wheel pinion meshes with the fixed fourth wheel which will cause the pinion to rotate and operate the escape wheel and balance in the normal way.

It must be born in mind that tourbillons are intended only to correct pocket-watch positional errors which are largely 2-dimensional when carried in a waistcoat pocket. A wristwatch experiences many more varied and frequent positional shifts in normal use.

Karrusel

In the karrusel by Bonniksen (UK patent 21421 of 1892) the carriage is mounted on a karrusel wheel driven by the third wheel pinion. The fourth wheel staff passes through the centre of the karrusel bearing to allow the fourth wheel pinion to mesh with the third wheel and power is transmitted to the escapement in the normal way rather than through the carriage rotation as in the tourbillon. The rate of rotation of the karrusel is about once per hour compared with the tourbillon which may rotate once per minute. Both these designs require considerable skill to manufacture, and are only found in watches of high quality.

In official chronometer trials in the 1890s-1900s, karrusels consistently out-performed tourbillons. This seems to be because the longer period of rotation consumed less energy and achieved a more representative correction to the positional shifts normally experienced by a pocket-watch.

Flying Tourbillon

This describes a tourbillon carriage that is supported only at the back so that from the dial side it appears to be floating with no visible means of support. The lack of a bridge on the dial side also helps reduce the height of the tourbillon sub-assembly.

Carrousel-tourbillon

This now widely-used term was introduced by Blancpain to describe an otherwise conventional 1-minute tourbillon in which the axis of the balance was offset from the axis of the tourbillon carriage, giving the tourbillon a more karrusel-like appearance. The reason for this modification appears to be to reduce the overall height of the tourbillon.

Flying carrousel-tourbillons were the first type of tourbillon attempted by the Chinese watch industry, no doubt on account of the aesthetics of such an arrangement.

Freak

Ulysse-Nardin describe the escapement on their

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This is very impressive review & writeup. The video is amazing.

PS: I hope you don't mind... I moved this to "Other watch reviews" and pinned it. The first-ever rep Tourbillon article deserves that.

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Thx all, thx for putting this into place BT :)

I think indeed that simple pictures of a Tourbillon movement won't give the right feeling of what it is really.

Chinese or not, imagine that you can touch for 600 dollars what's usually worth more than 50 000. Of course, I'm not comparing this to a gen, that would be a mistake. But it actually catches attention the same way a gen would and is just as hypnotizing.

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I kind of agree :)

Unbranded Tourbillons are a smart way to have an "inexpensive" gen. And better unbranded than badly named. I can't help coughing when I see some weird brands popping up on ebay : can you imagine a "Robert" or a "Carlos" Tourbillon ? I would never wear that (sorry for all Bobs and Carlos) ... :Jumpy:

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Thanks for the review. I find the main problem with all of the current Breguet reps available is the lack of dual "secret signatures" which adorn almost all pieces from the brand. They are similar to the little crown Rolex etches into the crystal.

I really like your Tourbillon; especially the engraving on the rear movement panel! Breathtaking!!

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Thx Corgi, it's true that for the price, one could expect a bit more of details...

I would have loved an engraved movement and small laser markings between lugs or this kind of things.

As well as SWISS MADE on the dial... :lol:

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@ Pix Wow! What a great review. Thanks for all the time you invested in researching and writing this up. The pictures are terrific as usual, but you really upped the ante with the amazing videos. Great idea to link the vids, those tourby's really can't be appreciated until seen in motion. Bravo!

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I have a very important question since I am looking to pick one of these babies up real soon.........

I notice on Angus's site he is offering TWO tourbillons ....one is the above watch and the other which is a bit more expensive is a Jaeger LaCoultre tourbillon. Can anyone suggest to me which of the two is the better rep???????? I know one has a power reserve and Angus told me this is why is costs more. BUT other than that which one of the two is the more convincing looking rep? Which is better constructed etc.

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It seems Angus has a reduced price on the Breguet : competition at its best ! :D Although it seems to be a different batch : blued screws and shorter minute hand.

Actually none is close to the gen :

- the Breguet for the reasons I mentionned in my review

- the JLC is complete fantasy : it does not refer to any existing model. If you prefer the PR, I would rather go to one of Homer's Tourbillons. Additionnally, PR is a possible additionnal source of problems.

The PR probably does not cost more (or much more) IMO, as it's a feature which is already present in the ST-80 that equips both watches. At least that's what I understood.

http://www.tractionink.com/watch_wiki/inde...Tianjin_Seagull

Be careful when you buy the Breguet : obviously they make the caseback engraving after it's screwed on the case. So the screws are sometimes touching the text, which I find lame. I saw one where the T of Breguet was covered by a screw... :g:

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These are sooo awesome but I don't think it's such a good idea to buy a rep of one of these. Any Gen tourbillon I've ever seen starts at a minimum of $100,000.00 plus. If I see you wearing one you're either obviously wearing a fake or your unconscious from my sneak attack! Kidding!

I'm dying to find the right no-namer.

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All members here know that indeed. But as often said, most people have no clue about what that is and only know Rolex and Casio. I don't feel so uncomfortable from my first experience wearing it :)

The noname is a good solution indeed.

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Excellent review, Pix.

I am so tempted to get one now.

BTW, how is the craftmanship of the Tourbillon? Are they all shinny polished and well oiled? Rough surfaces on the parts will just simply ruin the whole watch.

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Well oiled is difficult to say. I dare to think that a bit more attention is brought in producing such a complicated movement. Besides, it's a Seagull, which I also trust somehow more, knowing their other movements.

Yes, all is polished in the tourbillon, and as you can see on the display caseback, a pretty lovely cote de Gen

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  • 2 weeks later...

Pix,

What led you to conclude that the movement in your watch is manufactured by Seagull? After looking at the tourbillons available from Josh, Angus, Homer, River, and Watchmark it appears there are two movements. The first has a "bird" shaped movement for the second hand; the other movement is like yours. Any light you can shed on the differences of the movements and their appearances would be appreciated.

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Pix,

Thanks for the link. I am trying to learn as much as possible about tourbillons. The image below was taken from the Seagull website referencing the ST80XX movement. It would appear they use the "bird" movement. I don't know how good or bad it is as a movement. I do think it looks very very good.

SeagullST80XX.JPG

I've just ordered a tourbillon from Homer and am really looking forward to getting it. It has a different movement than the one shown above. Here is what the one from Homer looks like:

HomerTourbillonMovement.JPG

Homer tells me it comes from Millionsmart. It may be a Liang 5010 movement. Can someone confirm or deny who manufactured this movement?

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