What Does Tourbillon Mean? How Does Breguet’s Tourbillon Governor Work?

The title of tourbillon comes from ‘TOURBILLON REGULATOR’, which translates the tourbillon regulator. TOURBILLON explained in the English dictionary ‘a structure that makes the entire escapement itself rotate to eliminate parallax’. The inventor of the tourbillon, Breguet wrote, ‘My invention can offset the error caused by the gravity of the balance wheel at different positions …’ This is the main advantage of the tourbillon.


  The tourbillon is a clock speed regulating device invented by Swiss watchmaker Mr. Louis Breguet in 1795, which means ‘vortex’. Tourbillon watches represent the highest level in the manufacturing process of mechanical watches. The entire escapement speed regulating mechanism is combined to rotate continuously at a certain speed, which reduces the effect of gravity on the ‘escapement system’ in mechanical watches. At the lowest level, it improves the travel time accuracy. The price of tourbillon watches is basically hundreds of thousands. The meaning of ‘vortex’ refers to a mechanical watch equipped with a ‘rotary escapement speed-regulating mechanism’ and a tourbillon mechanism to correct the error caused by gravity due to the clockwork. The tourbillon watch represents the highest level in the manufacturing process of mechanical watches. The entire escapement speed regulating mechanism is combined and can rotate, and continuously rotates at a certain speed, making it make the gravity attract the ‘escape system’ in the mechanical watch. To minimize the impact and improve travel time accuracy. Due to its unique operation mode, the dynamic artistic beauty of clocks has been brought to the peak and has always been known as the ‘king of watches’.

  The idea of ​​the tourbillon is to place the core escapement of the watch in a frame (Carriage), so that the frame rotates 360 degrees regularly around the axis-that is, the axis of the balance wheel. In this way, the original escapement mechanism is fixed, so when the watch rest position is changed, the escapement mechanism does not change, resulting in different forces on the escapement parts and errors; when the escapement mechanism rotates 360 degrees continuously At the time, the azimuth errors of the parts are integrated and offset each other, thereby minimizing the errors and even eliminating them. At present, most tourbillons make one revolution (360 degrees) in one minute, which is also recognized as the ideal rotation speed in the industry.
 Breguet’s tourbillon governor
 If the escape wheel, the lever (the pup) and the balance wheel and the hairspring are all placed on a carriage, and the small teeth of the carriage are driven by the third wheel, the carriage Spin. The fourth wheel placed above the balance is fixed and concentric with the carriage shift. The escape-wheel pinion of the escape wheel meshes with the fourth wheel. Therefore, when the carrier rotates, the small tooth flap of the escape wheel rotates around the fixed fourth wheel. This causes the small tooth flap to rotate and manipulates the escape wheel and balance wheel in a normal manner.
  The entire above structure is called a tourbillon cage, and these elements rotate together constantly, at a steady rate—1 minute, 4 minutes, or even 6 minutes—a full circle, then no matter where the watch is In a vertical position, this tourbillon governor rotates at exactly the same time. In this way, because the position of gravity is different, the error generated by one position will be equal to the same size generated by another position. Offset by the error. In fact, the tourbillon does not eliminate position errors, it just averages the errors, but despite being in a vertical position, the stage period of the tourbillon is constant.

  Breguet proposed this idea in 1775, and it was not produced until nearly 6 years later, and it was on the 24th of the French Republican calendar (the calendar of the Great Revolution) on the 24th of the month (Floreal, August of the Republican calendar)-equivalent to AD April 14, 1801—A letter was written to the then Minister of the Interior, stating that he had invented a tourbillon governor and asked for a 10-year patent. On June 26, 1801, he received a patent license.