Why Rolex Doesn’t Have A Tourbillon?

The circle of watch friends privately circulates the phrase ‘there are only three watches in the world, Patek Philippe, Rolex and others’. This sentence highly summarizes the status of Patek Philippe and Rolex in the watch industry, one is the king of high-end watchmaking, and the other is the luxury watch brand with the highest total sales. However, many watch friends will ask, since they are already ‘luxury watch brands’, but why Rolex does not have a tourbillon? Before talking about this topic, we must first figure out what the ‘Tourbillon’ is. The mechanical clock movement uses a balance spring speed regulation system. This system directly determines the travel time accuracy of the clock. The hairspring is a circle of metal wires arranged according to the Archimedes spiral (similar to common mosquito coils). The hairspring arranged in this way naturally does not have its center of gravity. When the hairspring is loaded on the balance wheel, it will expand and contract as the balance wheel moves. At this time, the shape of the hairspring will change. Wingchoosy uses an 11x magnifying glass to shoot a slow motion video of the balance spring. In the video we can clearly see that the shape of the hairspring is irregular when it is contracted and enlarged, and the amplitude of the contraction and expansion of the upper right corner is larger than that of the lower left corner. The shape of the hairspring changes during movement, and the center of gravity of the hairspring moves around, shifting more severely than when stationary. This offset is subtle, but it is intolerable for a hairspring balance system that runs nearly 500,000 times a day. A small bit of offset amplification will affect the clock’s travel time accuracy. To solve this problem, Abraham-Louis Breguet, the founder of the watch brand Breguet, proposed in 1795 that a part of the hairspring be bent upwards to form a double-layer hairspring. The weight of the second hairspring was used to balance the balance Center of Gravity, a method of keeping the center of gravity as central as possible. This design was called ‘Breguet Spring’ Breguet hairspring. This is a graph of internal experimental test data from the precision engineering AG (professional research and development and production of hairsprings), a brother of the watch brand Henry Moser. The dark blue line is the center of gravity offset track of the ordinary flat hairspring during the movement, and the cyan line is the center of gravity offset track of the Breguet hairspring. It is not difficult to see from the above experimental data that the center of gravity of the ordinary flat hairspring shifts very significantly when the movement of the movement. The Breguet hairspring has greatly improved this center of gravity shift and can basically maintain the center of gravity of the hairspring. By June 26, 1801, Abraham-Louis Breguet had been granted a patent by an official agency for a period of ten years, which was named ‘Tourbillon Tourbillon’. Breguet envisages installing the entire hairspring escapement speed control system in a movable frame that makes one full revolution per minute. In this way, all errors occur repeatedly and cancel each other out. According to Breguet’s own vision, the design of the tourbillon is very ‘perfect’. But the change from the invention design to the real thing is not smooth. Breguet patented it in 1801, but he had only experimental products. Only four years later, the tourbillon pocket watch was officially launched to the market, and it is not a mass-produced version, but a customized one. From 1805 to 1823, Abraham-Louis Breguet died. In 18 years Breguet sold only 35 tourbillon clocks. Such sales performance is very different from that of watches equipped with Breguet hairsprings. Why is this happening? That was because it was too difficult to make a tourbillon by relying on the timepiece processing technology at that time. The power in the clockwork of the pocket watch movement was not much, and now it needs to move a movable frame. Therefore, the movable frame of the tourbillon must be made very lightweight, and the weight of the entire tourbillon frame is less than 1 gram, so that the wheel train of the movement can move. Such a lightweight frame is difficult to make in the era of incomplete lathe processing technology, and even if the shape of the frame is made, the balance of the entire hairspring escapement system must be considered. Therefore, the manufacture of the tourbillon has always been a problem! According to records, more than 200 years after the invention of the tourbillon, only about 200 watchmakers mastered this advanced technology. Due to the small number, difficult processing, and high value, tourbillon is regarded as ‘artifact’ by many watch friends. Often there are such thoughts that ‘a brand with a tourbillon is powerful, a brand without a tourbillon is the low-end’. As for why Rolex doesn’t have a tourbillon? In fact, it can be divided into three stages to explore the reasons. The first stage is from 1905 to the 1950s, the second stage is from 1953 to the 1990s, and the third stage is from the 1990s to the present. The first stage: from 1905 to the 1950s, the ability was not enough. Rolex could not make a tourbillon single-button chronograph Rolex Ref. 2303. This explanation sounded incredible at first. Hans Wilsdorf founded the predecessor of Rolex in 1905. In the following days, he opened the situation with two magic weapons ‘Oyster Waterproof Case’ + ‘Automatic Movement’. But at this time Rolex’s movement research and development, production capacity is not strong! Rolex’s movement at that time was commissioned by Aegler. Therefore, Rolex at the time could not do it. Patek Philippe pocket watches using the Albert Pellaton-Favre tourbillon movement @ 佳 士 得 not only could not be made by Rolex, at that time there were few brands that could independently produce tourbillon pocket watches and watches. Tourbillon pocket watches, including Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Girard Perregaux, and Athens, are often ordered by watchmakers for processing, and then sold under their own trademarks. The most famous watchmakers are Albert Pellaton-Favre (1832-1914) or his son James César Pellaton (1873-1954). This is why we find that the tourbillon pocket watches of these brands actually look similar. Of course, in 1947, Omega made the Cal.30L tourbillon watch movement and Patek Philippe in 1956 developed the Cal.34T tourbillon watch movement, but at the time they were all produced on a small scale as an observatory competition and could not do To mass production. The second stage: from 1953 to the 1990s, the product positioning was clear, Rolex did not need to be the tourbillon Rolex Explorer series predecessor ‘Oyster Perpetual’ @ACM 劳力士 The most famous sports model is from the 1953 ‘Submariner’ submarine This series is commonly known as ‘Water Ghost’, but it is not that the Rolex sports model is the first ancestor of the mountain. In 1953, the British expedition team wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch and successfully climbed to the top of Mount Everest for the first time. To commemorate this, Rolex launched the Explorer series. After that, professional watches such as Rolex’s Submariner, Greenwich, MILGAUSS, Daytona, Sea Digger, Explorer, Yacht-Master, etc. were successively introduced and won the market’s acceptance. At this time, Rolex’s product positioning is gradually clear, and it is necessary to be a precise and reliable professional watch. The third stage: from the 1990s to the establishment of the brand status, Rolex disdain, can not be a tourbillon. This is a Patek Philippe Ref. 3369, its owner is Philippe Stern, which is the former president of Patek Philippe. Looks like a normal small three-pin style, but it has a lot to offer. From the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, the Observatory Chronometer clock competition was held for almost 100 years, and major watch brands took out their best products to participate in the competition. This Patek Philippe Ref. 3369 watch is equipped with a small-sized manual tourbillon movement numbered 861115, which was originally created to participate in the Swiss Observatory Chronometer competition. Because the information of that year is paper and coupled with geopolitics, there is no systematic data on the Internet to query. Dr. Christian Müller from the Observatory Chronometer Database (OCD) near the water platform uploaded the details of the 3356 participating movements of the Neuchatel Observatory from 1945 to 1967 and provided free inquiries. Interested table friends can visit www.observatory.watch to browse. Through inquiry, we can know that the 861115 movement equipped with precision tourbillon obtained a comprehensive score of 16.73 in that year. Omega, which also made a tourbillon movement, scored 12.1 and 18.22. Such a result, the comprehensive ranking in the 3356 participating movements is already after 2000 … (the lower the comprehensive score value, the more accurate the watch) It is worth noting that the Observatory Chronometer competition is only a static test , Does not simulate the movement of the movement after the watch is assembled. So when it comes to travel accuracy, the tourbillon with complicated structure will be inferior to the static observatory test in actual wearing. In this way, the tourbillon has no meaning to Rolex. The quartz crisis triggered by Japan’s Seiko in the 1970s and 1980s shook the world’s watchmaking industry, and the Swiss mechanical watchmaking industry was hit hard. Many brands went bankrupt, closed down, merged, sold, and downgraded. Fortunately, Rolex survived this crisis. In addition, during the crisis period, Rolex did not lower its production level, and also completed the upgrade from the 30 series to the 31 series. As a result, after the crisis, Rolex’s brand status began to be established, and its brand positioning became gradually clear. It was necessary to produce accurate and reliable watches. The tourbillon was considered the most advanced technology in 1801. In order to improve the accuracy of timepieces, Breguet must not use complex mechanical structures to compensate for the deviation of the center of gravity of the balance spring. However, experiments have proved that the travel time accuracy of tourbillon watches is not better than that of ordinary watches. At the same time, the complex mechanical structure has the disadvantages of high cost, instability, easy damage, difficult maintenance, slow commissioning, and expensive maintenance. change. For Rolex in pursuit of precision and reliability, the tourbillon is a backward and high-risk technology. Rather than producing a ‘delicate’ tourbillon, it is better to ‘win in stability’.