The tourbillon (French for ‘whirlwind’) is one of the most sought-after technical complications in horology today. Developed by Abraham Louis Breguet in 1801, the tourbillon originally served to compensate for the effects of gravity in mechanical pocket watches. It wasn’t until 1920 that the flying tourbillon was invented, by a master watchmaker named Alfred Helwig. Alfred Helwig first trained to be a watchmaker at the German Watchmaking School Glashütte where he remained a loyal teacher for more than forty years. He is considered one of the most important figures in the history of Glashütte watchmaking. Today, his name graces the Glashütte Original watchmaking school, located in the same building where he once worked and taught, educating the future of the Glashütte art of watchmaking. The Senator Tourbillon – Edition Alfred Helwig, equipped with a mesmerising flying tourbillon and introduced only recently by Glashütte Original, makes for more than a fitting tribute to the man who devoted so much to Glashütte watchmaking.
Glashütte Original Senator Tourbillon – Edition Alfred Helwig
The Senator Tourbillon – Edition Alfred Helwig is a reinterpretation of the 2013-released Senator Tourbillon. This new version of the Senator Tourbillon features an 18 ct white gold case that measures a contemporary 42 mm in diameter at 13.7 mm in thickness. The main differences between the regular Senator Tourbillon and the Edition Alfred Helwig are threefold:
- The dial of the Senator Tourbillon – Edition Alfred Helwig is silver-grained compared to the regular version’s matte dark grey. While the Roman numerals in the former are black, they are white in the latter. The same goes for the big date numerals – they are white on black in the original, but black on white in the Edition Alfred Helwig.
- The 1 o’clock position where the Roman numeral ‘I’ is in the original version is filled with text denoting the individual numbering of the piece in the limited series. This unconventional design element will surely split opinions amongst enthusiasts. That said, it was subtle enough that we didn’t notice it at first glance of the press photos.
- The hands in the original are white gold while the tribute edition is fitted with blued hands.
What remains unchanged is the flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock. The flying tourbillon differs from the classic tourbillon primarily in terms of aesthetics: anchored on one side only, it has no need for the top bridge, thus offering the viewer an unobstructed view of the tourbillon.
Ticking within the Senator Tourbillon – Edition Alfred Helwig is the 50-jewel (plus 2 diamond endstones) manufacture Calibre 94-03, the same movement used in the 2013 Senator Tourbillon. The automatic winding movement has a power reserve of 48 hours when fully wound and operates at a stately 3 Hz beat rate. The movement has two key features: the big date (or what the brand calls the “Panorama Date”) and of course, the flying tourbillon. The Panorama Date is one of Glashütte Original’s signature feature; celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017, Glashütte Original has used two date discs arranged concentrically on the same level since 1997 to ensure that one can read the date easily without a central separation bar. The lyre-shaped flying tourbillon is equally impressive, comprising 72 finely crafted components that weigh only 0.2 grams in collectively. From a finishing and decoration standpoint, everything is as one would expect from Glashütte Original: Saxon and quality. Visible through the sapphire crystal case back are Glashütte stripes that span not just the galvanised bridges but also the skeletonised, off-centre rotor; bevelled edges; polished steel parts; and heat-blued screws.
The Glashütte Original Senator Tourbillon – Edition Alfred Helwig is paired with a black Louisiana alligator leather strap with a white gold foldover clasp. Limited to only 25 pieces, the novelty is priced at approximately EUR100,000.
Case diameter: 42 mm
Case height: 13.7 mm
Material: 18 ct white gold
Strap: 21/18 mm
Waterproof up to: 5 bar
Glass: sapphire crystal, both sides anti-reflective
Bottom: sapphire crystal
Dial: display 36.8 mm, varnish silver-grainé with black Roman numerals/railroad chapter
Limited Edition: 25 pieces
Movement dimensions: 32.2 mm x 7.65 mm
Balance: screw balance with 18 weighted screws
Oscillating frequency: 21,600 vph, equivalent to 3 Hz
Power reserve: 48 hours (+/- 5 %)
Balance spring: Anachron with breguet overcoil
Shock protection: none
Jewels: 50 jewel bearings +2 diamond endstones