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Introducing The Glashütte Original Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 Limited Edition

Introducing The Glashütte Original Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 Limited Edition

The tourbillon nowadays can now and then appear to be exceptionally separated from its original reason, which was to improve accuracy. For the vast majority of its set of experiences, it was a problematic mechanism to make. Because of the amount of extra energy it saps from the going train, making tourbillons was something which, after their development by Breguet at the dawn of the 19th century, hardly any messed with except if they were fixated on creating a technical tour de power of some sort, or in investigating how much the tourbillon really could show distinct upgrades in performance that were actually because of the tourbillon itself, and which were not somewhat – perhaps generally – because of the great care that had to be taken in making one. 

That said, pocket tourbillons frequently turned in superlative numbers at the observatory time trials , although it was even less clear that they conveyed on their theoretical guarantee in wristwatches. Preceding the post-quartz emergency mechanical renaissance, tourbillon wristwatches were made in vanishingly small numbers, largely as chronometric proving grounds (from any semblance of Omega and Patek Philippe ), however since ticking and tocking began to really get again in Switzerland, the tourbillon has increasingly started to appear to be a brilliant film actor who for reasons unknown continues to turn in performances in high-financial plan, mega-salary, yet artistically vapid group pleasing blockbusters, rather than staying consistent with their art. Obviously, being a starving artist goes downhill fast, and there isn’t anything amiss with tourbillons made to dazzle the eye and joy the psyche with their inventiveness , however occasionally, one yearns for a palate cleanser. Which is the place where the new flying tourbillon wristwatch from Glashütte Original comes in.

The new Glashütte Original Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 is the tourbillon as a large portion of us manifestly do not remember it, at least not from personal experience of another tourbillon wristwatch in this our age of the Tourbillon As Three-Ring Circus. It is perhaps generally notable for what it doesn’t have – no multi-axis shenanigans; no chains nor yet any fusées; no opening in the dial to allow you to appreciate its gyrations without going through the burden of taking your watch off your wrist; it isn’t skeletonized; it’s anything but a secret tourbillon, oscillating away with no apparent driving mechanism; it isn’t dragging along with it a cornucopia of different complications. The Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920, in fact, is a particularly unadulterated example of the tourbillon wristwatch as to almost establish a censure to the last three decades of tourbillon configuration, including a portion of the tourbillons created by Glashütte Original itself. In the event that you didn’t know without a doubt that it had been released amidst the psyche bendingly chaotic global exercise in Theater Of The Absurd that is 2020, you could in fact easily be persuaded that it was delivered at some point during the 20th century (aside from the fact that no one was making tourbillons in Glashütte during the 1950s – at least, I don’t think anyone was, although I could not be right – who can say for sure what mystery project some frustrated watchmaker may have been fiddling with at home to cleanse his own palate of the taste of collectivized watchmaking) and proposed not as an extravagance divertimento, but rather as a genuine as-a-stroke explore in bleeding edge exactness horology. 

The watch overall is a classicist’s classic. The lone clue it is anything other than a pleasantly made 40mm x 11.60mm rose-gold wristwatch with small seconds is the legend “tourbillon” on the dial, which is made of silver-plated gold, with a submerged small seconds sub-dial, stick hands, and applied gold markers. As with the observatory pocket and wristwatch tourbillons of yesteryear, the real purpose of the watch is what’s under the hood. 

Now, there may arise the natural inquiry in the personalities of certain readers, especially those not conversant with a portion of the better purposes of tourbillon development and history, of who Alfred Helwig was and what is so special about the year 1920 – which, after all, was a huge year, giving us everything from the great Spanish Flu pandemic to the Treaty Of Versailles to … indeed, the rundown is long . It was also the year in which, after the abdication of King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony two years prior, Saxony became the Free State Of Saxony under another German constitution – and, obviously, in Saxony are both the cosmopolitan city of Dresden and, nearby, the little village of Glashütte which was, in defiance of its minute size, one of the great habitats of watchmaking in Germany. Glashütte was the home of the German Watchmaking School, Glashütte, and perhaps the most brilliant light was Alfred Helwig, teacher and technical chief, who taught there from 1913 to 1954 and who might train nearly 800 apprentice watchmakers.

Helwig’s primary advantages, obviously, were exactness horology in general and the fine adjustment of watches for accuracy in particular, yet today, he is best recognized as the innovator, in 1920, of the flying tourbillon (fliegende tourbillon). There had been, before his innovation, at least one known watch, by Robert Benson North, which fits the technical meaning of a flying tourbillon however it was Helwig who created, autonomously as far as I have had the option to tell, the variant of the flying tourbillon which characterizes the mechanism today. 

The flying tourbillon carriage of the hand-wound caliber 54-01 in the Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920.

The development for the Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 is the hand-wound caliber 54-01, which is 32mm x 6mm, with a pillar-and-plate development. It runs at 21,600 vph (a rate common to many present day tourbillons) in 20 gems, in addition to two diamond end-stones for the balance. Frequently, Glashütte Original’s tourbillons have been self-winding, and it’s very great to see somebody creating a high-grade, hand-wound tourbillon development – call it antiquated or reactionary of me, however I have always felt that the tourbillon is most enjoyable taken performance, without even an automatic winding framework. It just feels more unadulterated and consistent with the soul of the mechanism (to me anyway). 

A tourbillon is, as we’ve already referenced, generally a most fragile mechanism. The tourbillon comprises of a rotating cage or platform, inside which is the regulating mechanism of the watch – that is, the escape wheel, switch, balance spring, and balance (this is assuming the tourbillon has a switch escapement; a tourbillon can be made with different escapements as well, including the chronometer detent escapement). Breguet’s creation was originally proposed to address the issue of varying rates in the vertical situations in a pocket watch; by setting the regulating components rotating in the vertical plane of the watch (when worn upstanding in a pocket), a solitary average rate for the vertical positions would be delivered. The cage, for maximum stability, is generally upheld by the development plate on one side, and an upper scaffold on the other. Helwig’s development got rid of the upper extension, and the outcome was not just a tourbillon that could in principle be flatter than the traditional development, yet in addition afforded an unhindered perspective on the cage itself. 

Whether or not this specifically was at least in part Helwig’s motivation for creating the flying tourbillon, I don’t have the foggiest idea; I presume the answer may be covered in the pages of the epic and comprehensive Das Tourbillon, by Reinhard Meis. I don’t know the number of flying tourbillon watches Helwig completed – the last time I counseled Das Tourbillon, I discovered just one, made by Helwig and Conrad Richter in 1920; nonetheless, I probably missed something, as a flying tourbillon made by Helwig and his colleague Woldemar Fleck, in 1931, came available to be purchased at Sotheby’s in 2012. (It appears to be the same watch that appeared in 2004 at Barneby’s – either that or Fleck and Helwig cranked out two of them in the same year, which appears improbable, to say the least). They appear, regardless, to have been incredibly rare in the time frame 1920 to 1960 at least, although the flying tourbillon has become a staple of present day fine watchmaking, where it is regularly used to achieve a flatter development than would be conceivable with the traditional construction.

A question which in some cases arises is whether a tourbillon can be viewed as a complication appropriate. Generally, the expression “complication” doesn’t allude to regulating mechanisms, for example, the tourbillon or remontoire, yet rather, to mechanisms which enable the watch to display additional information, like the perpetual calendar or the Equation of Time. I used to be very doctrinaire about this (I’m talking 20 or more years ago when the expression “modem burner” was being tossed around for gathering posts that had actual, you know, pictures in them), however I have become perhaps not so much unbending but rather more philosophical throughout the long term – to such an extent, in fact, that I felt no qualms about picking a tourbillon, time-just watch as my favorite complicated watch of the year , for which I was entirely and, I have to admit, fairly reprimanded two or three readers.

This particular restricted release from Glashütte Original is, in almost every regard, a watch I figure Helwig would have been charmed to see in direct lineage from his development of 1920. It is one of the most dignified watches I have found in a long, long time – you take a gander at it, and all the committee-planned, marketing-department-driven plan and technical dynamic of the last years and years appears to fall away, and you get back to perhaps a more guiltless yet in addition cleaner time, when minute repeater gongs were as yet extinguished in pony pee and the comfortable quest for real greatness was a touch more the stock-in-trade of supposed extravagance watches than it in some cases is by all accounts today.

Okay, it is costly (so what else is new) at $121,800 of your favorite dollars, yet for that, you get a watch so colossally confident, you almost don’t see the Unpleasant Matter Of The Bill (almost). It doesn’t signal wealth; rather, it signals that signaling about wealth is really something beneath its poise, and it should be beneath yours as well. It breathes the embodiment of a respectable, refined, and unostentatious way of life, fragrant of battered vintage Bentleys glancing needing a paint work they won’t ever get; large, rambling nation estates going somewhat to seed; complaining to your homegrown partner of several decades in a reedy, irritated voice that the rabbits have gotten in amongst the cucumbers again; of sitting in dismal quiet by the fire on Christmas morning while the relatives revel until you stand out enough to be noticed, at about one or somewhere in the vicinity, by yelling that the damned canine won’t walk itself. Laugh maybe, a man can dream. The simply killjoy to me about the entire business is that this dazzling, exquisite watch, which discovers pandering to transient tastes of any sort disgraceful and irrelevant, is a restricted release. Something like this, I feel, should be made on a regular basis – if nothing else, to keep hands and eyes and brains sharp, and to remind the company, as much as its clients, where its philosophical, technical, and artistic focuses of gravity really lie. In any case, I had far rather have it as a restricted version than not have it at all.

The Glashütte Original Alfred Helwig 1920 Tourbillon 1920 Limited Edition: case, rose gold, 40mm x 11.60mm, 30 meters water resistant; dial, gold rubbing plated with silver with applied hour markers; stick hands in rose gold; small seconds on the tourbillon carriage. Development, caliber 54-01, pillar-and-plate development hand-wound flying tourbillon, running at 21,600 vph in 20 gems (in addition to two diamond endstones) with 100-hour power save. Helwig-type tourbillon cage; free-sprung adjustable mass balance with overcoil. Restricted release of 25 pieces around the world; cost, $121,800. For additional, fly on over to Glashuette-Original.com.

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