The tourbillon, invented over 200 years in the past by the good watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet with a purpose to enhance the precision of pocket watches, remains to be thought-about the head of precision watchmaking. The filigree mechanism, with its stability and escapement completely rotating in a cage to defy the affect of gravity, actually makes the hearts of aficionados and connoisseurs beats sooner, because the choreography of the itsy-bitsy rotating mechanism is nearly hypnotizing and captivates the observer. This rings very true for the flying tourbillon, a very refined kind that Alfred Helwig, a grasp watchmaker and trainer on the Glashütte College of Watchmaking, developed round 1920 within the well-known German watch city. Due to the particular bearing with only one bridge, it creates the impression of flying above the dial.
With gyroscopic designs and creations mounted on a number of axes, just a few long-established and fashionable luxurious producers, in addition to unbiased watchmakers, have taken the “whirlwind,” because the tourbillon is affectionately known as by lovers, to actually new dimensions within the wake of the renaissance of mechanical wristwatches.
For its first tourbillon, the Kudo Fixed-Drive Tourbillon, Grand Seiko drew inspiration from the fantastic thing about the unique mechanism, however geared up it with an ingenious design that likewise has a protracted custom in high quality watchmaking, but is nonetheless very uncommon: the fixed drive. The patented mechanism was first launched in 2020 in an idea motion known as the T0 Fixed Drive motion. To carry this to the market, the staff of designers, engineers and craftsmen entrusted with assembling and finishing the motion and case required two years. Each single one of many absolutely 340 parts of this caliber was re-examined and, if mandatory, redesigned or reworked. The hassle paid off: the 9ST1 caliber isn’t solely smaller than the earlier idea motion, but in addition delivers higher accuracy, because the constant-force mechanism has been optimized.
This novel system ensures a fair distribution of vitality to the escapement, whatever the standing of the mainspring. The technical sophistication of Grand Seiko’s Caliber 9ST1 is that the hand-wound motion combines the constant-force mechanism with the tourbillon on the identical axis. The tourbillon eliminates the precision drop brought on by gravity by incorporating the escapement and stability in a rotating cage. Since there are not any wheels or different parts between the 2 mechanisms, there isn’t any loss or change within the transmission of torque from the constant-force mechanism to the stability. This supplies the mechanism with an extended energy reserve of fifty hours and the stability with a extra steady amplitude. Collectively, these options make sure the motion’s extremely constant charge accuracy.
The mix of the 2 mechanisms not solely leads to increased precision within the Kudo Fixed-Drive Tourbillon, however is additional a feast for the eyes. The inside tourbillon cage rotates easily whereas the stability oscillates continually at eight beats per second, and the outer constant-force cage follows this rotational movement at exact one-second intervals. This sequence, which may also be adopted by ear, led Grand Seiko to call this bravura piece which interprets to “heartbeat.”
The watch additionally includes a stop-seconds mechanism. This permits the rotating tourbillon cage to be stopped by pulling out the crown for exactly setting the seconds. Talking of accuracy, to fulfill the corporate’s excessive requirements, every motion is examined for a full 48 hours in a complete of six positions at three completely different temperatures.
That is twice the size of testing that’s normal at Grand Seiko and different trade norms. As well as, every caliber is examined for 34 days to make sure the precision charge, which Grand Seiko quantifies as +5 to -3 seconds per day, over an prolonged time period. As soon as testing is full and this new normal has been met or exceeded, the motion’s particular person efficiency traits are documented in a certificates that Grand Seiko contains with every of the 20 fashions.
Grand Seiko wouldn’t be Grand Seiko if the model hadn’t created the suitable setting for this mechanical masterpiece. As is de rigeur at Grand Seiko, the 950 platinum case of the Kudo Fixed-Drive Tourbillon — which is pressure-resistant to 10 bars — and the Good Exhausting Titanium coating — which is developed in-house — are completed with the time-honored Zaratsu approach that’s signature to the model. Many surfaces, such because the case flanks and lugs, are polished to a distortion-free mirror end, creating a complicated interaction of sunshine and shadows.
Due to its open structure, the important parts, such because the tourbillon, the off-centered time indication and the facility reserve show, could be admired from all sides. A glance by means of the sapphire crystal case again additionally reveals the excessive normal of ending, such because the meticulously beveled edges in addition to the plate and winding wheels adorned with striped finishes. This has an identical high-quality really feel than the Swiss and Glashütte luxurious manufacturers.
The strap of the elevated mannequin additionally impresses with its sophistication. Made from calfskin, it’s handled with a standard methodology that was as soon as used on samurai armor, amongst different issues. One other nod to Japanese arts and crafts is the Urushi lacquer, which is utilized by hand in a number of layers to the finely polished floor of the strap. This coating has a luster and depth that even fashionable resin lacquers can not match. On high of that, the watch comes with an interchangeable crocodile leather-based strap.
Restricted to twenty complete editions, the Grand Seiko Kudo Fixed-Drive Tourbillon will retail for $350,000.
To be taught extra, go to Grand Seiko, right here.