The Beauty And Science Behind Skeletonised Watches

Fascinating in complexity, a skeletonised watch evokes watch making know-how in all its splendour … but do you really know what the skeletonised watch is and how it works?

In the realm of mystifying and unimaginably complicated product design, the skeletonised Tourbillon watch has long been king. Developed by the Frenchman Abraham-Louis Breguet in the early nineteenth century, it perfectly illustrates great watch making: the relentless pursuit of precision, so that mechanical movements never deviate from the correct time.

Amazing as it may seem, but gravitational force can disrupt the smooth swinging of mechanical components found in a watch. In simple terms, the action of gravity pulls the pendulum slightly more on one side than the other when the watch is worn vertically, thus distorting the delicate balance of the oscillation.

Tourbillon watch design sought to remove this disruption by using an internal balance which moves back and forth in a circular manner to compress a spring. Inside the cage, the movement is in constant rotation: it remains sensitive to gravity, but as it passes through all possible positions the effects of the latter are erased. In other words, disturbances remain, but they are offset in favour of an average.

In the twentieth century, many watch creators aimed to surpass Breguet, by developing a watch which has vortices able to turn on two, then three axes, like the famous Gyrotourbillon from Jaeger LeCoultre.

Nowadays, there are numerous stainless steel “Whirlwind” and Tourbillon-styled watches on the market. The mechanical components evoke a beauty in themselves, but the watch case and crown contract extremely when resurfaced in gold plating.