The Tourbillon With the invention of the tourbillon (French for ‘whirlwind’) at the end of the 18th century, engineers succeeded in overcoming the influence of gravity on the running of a watch. The rate-governing parts – the balance wheel, lever and escape wheel – rotate around the stationary fourth wheel once per minute in a delicate cage. This compensates for position-based influences.
The tourbillon improves the rate accuracy of a mechanical timepiece and helps enhance precision significantly, especially with pocket watches. This complication is considered one of the most elaborate and fascinating in precision watchmaking. In 2008, Lange successfully stopped the whirlwind: a patented mechanism added a stop seconds function to the tourbillon – making it possible to reset the watch down to the specific second.