When it was launched in 2016, TAG Heuer’s in-house automatic tourbillon chronograph literally shook up the industry. The first reason was, of course, its price, which when released, was exactly fifty dollars less than 16,000 US dollars, making it the most accessibly priced Swiss made tourbillon in existence.
The second reason that the industry was wringing its collective hands in disconcertment was that TAG Heuer also had the audacity to submit each and every one of these movements to COSC —the independent Swiss body in charge of chronometer certification — for maximum daily deviation of minus 4, plus 6 seconds.
What’s the big deal about this? OK. Let’s go back to 1801 when Abraham-Louis Breguet, the Muhammad Ali of watchmaking, invented the tourbillon. In an attempt to combat the erosive effects of gravity on the regulating organ of the watch when it was in the vertical position, Breguet came up with the incredible idea of placing the balance, hairspring and escapement inside of a cage that rotated once on its own axis every minute. In so doing it average the error caused.
Once incredibly rare, today tourbillon wristwatches are one of the most popular complications thanks to the advent of the industrial era, where CNC machining, wire erosion and even LIGA (a process where components are grown galvanically) allows the creation of components with incredible precision and speed.
But most tourbillons have two things in common. They are expensive. And they are not tested for their accuracy. Of the innumerable brands that make tourbillons there were but two that actually certified their watches as chronometers, Patek Philippe and Chopard L.U.C.