Eppur si muove: Kerbedanz Maximus, Review of the Largest Tourbillon Ever to Orbit Your Wrist

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Eppur si muove or “and yet it moves” is a phrase attributed to Italian physicist Galileo in 1633 as he defended his claims of Earth’s orbit around the Sun; and it’s a descriptor fitting of the Kerbedanz Maximus. Introduced in Baselworld 2017 the Kerbedanz Maximus and its 1.35 gram ultra-large 27mm tourbillon beggars belief much as early proclamations of the Earth’s orbit around the sun. Why? Because tourbillons (and their cages) are supposed to be light in order to be feasibly and technically efficient. By horological standards, Kerbedanz’s huge tourbillon appears to be a contradiction in terms but yet, its majesty begs us to give it a second chance or at the very least, merit a second look.

Review: Kerbedanz Maximus, the Largest Tourbillon Ever to Orbit Your Wrist

Measuring 27 millimeters, the Kerbedanz Maximus’s tourbillon almost doubles on the former record holder for largest tourbillon. Named for the most imposing monument of Roman antiquity, the wristwatch is a conceivably strong candidate for legendary watch grail status much as how Rome’s own Circus Maximus was fabled for its dramatic chariot races and of course, famed in popular culture for hosting Ben Hur’s epic chariot race. Ignoring its namesake, the latin Maximus translates to “the greatest” and its a name well-earned for Kerbedanz’s oversized, central flying tourbillon.

Case, Hands and Dial

It must be said that the 49mm Kerbedanz Maximus is an architectural masterpiece which dominates your wrist. There’s no “dial” in the conventional sense. Nor would we be correct to describe the dial of the Kerbedanz Maximus as open-worked. Simply described, the 27mm oversized central flying tourbillon dominates the entire watch face, sunken into the core of the calibre – the entire escapement assortment is in clear view. And just as the notable quote, “all roads lead to Rome,” – describing the importance and position of the Eternal city, the sloping red gold polished indexes all point inwards towards the tourbillon set on a massive geared wheel.

Doubling the size of a tourbillon in a feat of micro-mechanics isn’t as simple as simply making components larger, everything has to be re-calculated and computed, as a result the “dial” – the ultra-large tourbillon is the product of two pending patents, necessitated by the conception and manufacture of a special balance spring, a rack with a screw for fine adjustment, and a balance wheel; unlike a traditional tourbillon, the cage of this watch makes a full rotation once every six minutes instead of sixty seconds – thus, it does not indicate seconds as a traditional tourbillon might and so, there isn’t a seconds indicator either.  Open leaf hands, one bigger than the other to denote hours and minutes point to hours and minutes and as a result of the large proportions, are superlatively finished to a high shine.

There’s an immense depth to the structure of the Kerbedanz Maximus, alternating high mirror shine of the sunken “under-dome” contrasts with the circular-grained finish of the large gear, as if holding the world’s largest tourbillon in gentle embrace. The cage itself exhibits alternative satinated and polished chamfered edges inclusive of the polished chaton holding the ruby. The minute rail holding the “aqueduct” style hour indexes is itself possessed of contrast raised minute indicators and engraved “Swiss made” text.

The Movement

At 27mm and weighing 1.35g, the 73 part ultra-large central flying tourbillon with in-line pallets is a nightmare in terms of energy consumption and a pain to provide impulse sufficient for good amplitude and chronometry. Thus, the Kerbedanz Caliber KRB-08 features four parallel barrel springs that drive the central wheel mounted on ball-bearings, providing torque and more importantly, decent power reserve for such a contrarian tourbillon. Contributing to the longevity of the 48 hour power reserve is the relatively low-beat 18,000 vph or 2.5 hertz balance. Comprised of 415 components, the movement of the Kerbedanz Maximus is hand finished to standards of high horology, that said, it’s no work of Voutilainen or one of the other great movement artists – finishing is great but not mind blowing – but it’s not like the theatre needs to be interior designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to host Shakespearean masterpieces – the dramatic central oversized tourbillon is theatrics enough.

That said, if the hypnotism of such a tourbillon wears thin, you can turn the watch over and gaze at the wolf-tooth ratchet wheels turn as you hand-wind the watch to maximum wind are a nice detail. The brush finished “spokes” on the reverse of the watch appear to be a distraction which Kerbedanz has elected to fill the centre negative space with a motif indicating direction of rotation and it feels a little out of place on an object of high horology – but, it’s no mere design element, it’s actually a winding ratchet for you to place fingers in and turn and watch as the power reserve indicator “fills up”. The crown only operates time setting functions.

Concluding thoughts

The Kerbedanz Maximus is ground breaking but not revolutionary. The tourbillon is a staple of high horology but this oversized central flying tourbillon magnifies its essence. It stops being a “focal point” complication and in this instance, actually occupies the entirety of your consciousness with its presence. It’s impeccably finished (but not overly so) and visually spectacular, one would be hard pressed to ignore this watch on the basis of its 2 year provenance.

Available in gold, platinum or titanium and limited to 99 pieces, the Kerbedanz Maximus is priced CHF 165,000 for the titanium version.


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