There is much debate about whether a tourbillon is necessary to improve precision in a wristwatch and yet brands continue to produce them. To create a high-quality tourbillon demonstrates technical virtuosity, and there’s no doubt watching a tourbillon “whirl” is a mesmerizing experience. When Harry Winston wanted to present itself as a serious watchmaker it launched the Histoire de Tourbillon series to explore the beauty and possibilities of the mechanism.
Histoire de Tourbillon 1 debuted in 2009 in a limited series of 20 pieces—all of which are sold. However, this rare and important piece that established the Histoire de Tourbillon series came out of hiding when it was auctioned off at Christie’s in Dubai on October 22, 2014. Estimated to bring in $200,000-300,000, the watch, which was number 2 in the series, brought in $293,000, a good result for Christie’s… but also for the new owner.
The amount of $293,000 might seem like a tremendous amount of money and no doubt it is. But when you examine the Histoire de Tourbillon 1, the price tag is a bargain, relatively speaking. First off, the Histoire de Tourbillon pillar is rumored to be discontinued after this year, so Histoire de Tourbillon 1 is a rare and historical piece, with the added benefit of being the inaugural watch to establish the Histoire de Tourbillon series. More importantly, it is a beautiful timepiece, perfectly showcasing Harry Winston’s abilities in its exploration and execution of the tourbillon.
Since the tourbillons are the stars of the show, the grey dial is creatively skeletonized to reveal their balletic motion. With a manual wind movement, the Histoire de Tourbillon 1 stars not one but two single-axis tourbillons inclined at 25° and rotating fully once every 36 seconds, which is very fast, since most cages complete their round in 1 minute. Harry Winston was able to achieve this because the 88 components comprising the tourbillons only weigh .46 grams.
At the 6 o’clock position is an eccentric rotating dial with black Roman numerals and yellow arrows to indicate the time. In addition, the Histoire de Tourbillon 1 also is functional from the back with hour, minute and seconds indications. In an 18k white gold and Zalium 48mm case, the Histoire de Tourbillon 1 is a rather commanding presence on the wrist, but it’s not too heavy because Zalium is a light and sturdy material developed for the aerospace industry. Harry Winston is the only company allowed to use the material in watches. Finishing the composition is a black crocodile strap that secures the watch with an 18k white gold Harry Winston buckle.
In terms of finishing, mechanics and aesthetics, the Histoire de Tourbillon 1 is top of the line and in my opinion can go head to head with those other brand darlings in terms of quality, making this a coup for any collector.
Photo Credit: Haute Time. For more information, please visit the official Harry Winston website.