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Impressions Review: Antoine Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons

by Peter Chong on April 30, 2015

A tourbillon is a traditional display of virtuosity, for a watchmaker to display his craft and the pinnacle of his skill. A.L. Breguet was credited as the inventor of the tourbillon. And for more than two and a half centuries, it remained relatively unchanged, and each master made tourbillons to display of his craft. But in recent years, there is an explosion of tourbillons. Almost every watchmaking house has one. Often for hundreds of thousands of dollars. How does one then differentiate? Ask yourself this: what’s more difficult than a tourbillon. An easy answer is, well a double tourbillon. How about a triple tourbillon? Even more complicated! In this review, we explore the Antione Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons. Three tourbillons, yes, count them, 3, each running on its own balance escapement system, and all on a platform which rotates on itself. Fascinating?

 

Antoine Preziuso, the master wearing his Tourbillon of Tourbillons. The watch is remarkably small with a case diameter of just shy of 40mm.

Antoine Preziuso, the master wearing his Tourbillon of Tourbillons. The watch is remarkably small with a case diameter of 45mm.

 

By way of introduction, Antoine Preziuso is one of the early “Académie des Horlogers Créateurs Indépendants” (AHCI) masters of the tourbillon. Having had a successful career, he is now joined by his son Florian who is also a watchmaker. Its a family business with his daughter Laura doing the jewellery work and his wife May handling the administration.

 

A bit of tourbillon history: Musings

 

The Greubel Forsey Invention no 2: showing the detail of the double axis tourbillon.

The Greubel Forsey Invention no 2: showing the detail of the double axis tourbillon.

 

The progress march of the tourbillon is an interesting one. It was largely seen as a virtuoso display for a master craftsman until about the quartz revolution. Indeed it was the epitome of complications from the 1850s till about 1970. Watches made during that era which were equipped with a tourbillon escapements are rare. They are more rare than minute repeaters in pocket watches, for example. And when wristwatches became popular, a tourbillon in a wristwatch was almost a guarantee of a high level of craftsmanship.

Post quartz revolution, with the rise of the Swiss in the late 1980s, the tourbillon is made more and more common. In 1993, Jaeger LeCoultre announced a limited edition series of tourbillons in their Reverso series. The limitation number was 500. This was the largest series production of the tourbillon in a single wristwatch model ever. Indeed 500 examples was perhaps more than the total number of tourbillon watches made till then. JLC went on to deliver all 500 within 2 years and went on to announce a further 500 in a later series dubbed Platinum 2 in 2003.

The floodgates of the tourbillon has been opened. Since then, all manufacturers have at least one tourbillon model in their collection. The mass production of the tourbillon then went on high gear in 2001 when Progress Watch Co announced that they will start delivery of two tourbillon ébauche made available on an industrial scale. However, Progress Watch was plagued with divers financial problems, and they finally collapsed. The tourbillon project continued, however, when STT took over the company, and engaged Peter Speake-Marin to complete development of the project. The result was the delivery of the tourbillon ébauche which found its way into watches like Bovet, Harry Winston Rare Timepieces, Gérald Charles, Alain Silberstein and of course, Speake-Marin.

In recent years, the arrival of the reliable Chinese made tourbillons have also heralded the low cost, but fully functional watches. These Chinese watches have not yet begun to assault the high end Swiss made counterparts. Today they lack the design, the finishing capability, and the finese, but perhaps over time, we may see them challenging the status quo.

With this as a backdrop, the technical aura of the virtuosity of tourbillons, while not shattered, is now perhaps marred with these examples. Ask a watchmaker, and most will confide that a chronograph demands more skill to make and fine tune than a tourbillon.

 

The Antione Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons. Amazingly complex movement.

The Antione Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons. Amazingly complex movement. Shown here with diamonds on the case sides, and hornback crocodile strap.

 

Review: Antoine Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons

With this background, we begin to understand why Antoine chose to produce a watch like with a triple tourbillon and call it Tourbillon of Tourbillons. From the single tourbillon the degree of difficulty challenge was increased with double axis or inclined tourbillons. These were made by Jaeger LeCoultre in their Gyrotourbillon, and most famously by Greubel Forsey in various models. Triple Axis tourbillons have also come about from Thomas Prescher, Harry Winston, Girard Perregaux and most recently Cabestan. Greubel Forsey also upped the game with what they call their Quadruple Tourbillon – essentially two double axis tourbillon coupled via a differential. The concept of a differential coupling two escapement in a wristwatch was first delivered by Philippe Dufour in his Duality. This is a very complicated device, which allows both escapements to keep its own rate, while running off a single wheel train.

 

The Antoine Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons looks massively complicated from the dial side. In real life, it is even more complex: animated by the individual spinning of each of the 3 tourbillons and the slow spin of the platform where the tourbillons are mounted.

The Antoine Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons looks massively complicated from the dial side. In real life, it is even more complex: animated by the individual spinning of each of the 3 tourbillons and the slow spin of the platform where the tourbillons are mounted.

 

Antoine’s Tourbillon of Tourbillons uses a three way differential, coupling three single axis tourbillons to a single wheel train.  But it gets even more complicated. The three tourbillons sit on a plate, which itself rotates. The tourbillons  each make one revolution every 60 seconds, and the plate makes one revolution every 10 minutes. And it shows. Amazing complexity. The watch is rather busy, but seemingly with a purpose.

 

Movement finishing is quite good, being a very high end, virtuoso styled watch.

Movement finishing is quite good, being a very high end, virtuoso styled watch.

 

The dial, or lack of it, is opened up to show parts of the movement, differential system and the tourbillons. From a visual perspective, the watch, especially the titanium version shown here in the photographs lacks contrast, the rhodiumed white gold hands showing little contrast to the complex filigree of bridges which make up the movement. The watch is also offered in a steel and 18kt Gold version which offers a bit more contrast, but still proved to be a challenge to read the time. Also, we would imagine Antoine would be able to offer customized versions.

 

Detail of one of the tourbillons. The gold hue is due to reflection from the environment. The tourbillon is hand finished, each of the beautiful stylized arm is well polished to a high degree. The design of the rather minimalist cage has elements of traditional watchmaking like the sharp horns, both inward and outward angles which are used to demonstrate craft.

Detail of one of the tourbillons. The gold hue is due to reflection from the environment. The tourbillon is hand finished, each of the beautiful stylized arm is well polished to a high degree. The design of the rather minimalist cage has elements of traditional watchmaking like the sharp horns, both inward and outward angles which are used to demonstrate craft.

 

The movement back also reveals a similar story. The click mechanism for the double barrels are magnificently designed and executed. And as a further show of tour de force, the left barrel’s click is designed different from the right barrel’s, allowing Antoine to showcase his craft, each being finished beautifully. The handsetting and winding works is also nicely designed and well finished. This component is visible in the photograph below at approximately 11 o’clock.

 

The movement, Caliber Antoine Preziuso AFP-TTR-3X is fully developed by Antoine and his son Forian. Hand finishing is fully apparent, with a multitude of hand finish disciplines displayed.

The movement, Caliber Antoine Preziuso AFP-TTR-3X is fully developed by Antoine and his son Forian. Hand finishing is fully apparent, with a multitude of hand finish disciplines displayed. Note that how the shape of the centerpiece bridge hugs the bridge at 5 o’clock with the 3 jewels in their chatons. This is one of the indicators of a high level of craftsmanship. Note also that the bridges are fully anglaged, and polished. Note further the complex click mechanism for the double barrels, each on one side of the movement. Each component is beautifully executed, and nicely finished. Note also the cover of the mainsprings are highly polished, and reflect Antoine’s face as he was showing me the watch.

 

Concluding thoughts

 

My first thought when told that this was to be a triple tourbillon was to say, “Humbug!”, but when I finally spent some time examining and discussing the watch with Antoine Preziuso, understanding the philosophy, the complexity, and seeing the finishing for my self, I become more convinced that this is a magnificent piece of horology. I remain a bit skeptical on the aesthetics, especially the low contrast of the hands to the backdrop of the exposed bridges and movement, more on the titanium model as to the steel/gold version. But I come away impressed with the virtuosity of Antoine Preziuso, and the work he has accomplished. Bravo!

For more information please visit  Antoine Preziuso.

 

Antoine Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons

Movement and functions:

Caliber Antoine Preziuso: AFP-TTR-3X
Mechanical movment with manual winding
Hours and minutes indicator
Hand made decoration
International patents
Dimensions: 39.80mm.
Total height: 10.80mm
Stones: 65rubies
Ball bearing: 6
Motor organ: Double serial barrels
Regulator organs of transmission: planetary triple-differential gear
Regulator organ of frequency: 3 tourbillons « planetary satellite »
Frequency: 3X 21’600Ah (3Hz)
Rotating speed of the tourbillon carriage: 1t/min
Rotating speed of the revolving plate: 1t/10min.;
Power reserve: min. 48h
Case: Combination of Steel – Gold 18kt and Titanium Gr5
Dimension: 45 mm diameter- 14 mm thick
details: Bezels screwed on to the middle via 8 lateral gold pillars and 24 “Power”screws in titanium.
Strap: Crocodile leather front and back
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