Since its debut back in 2009, the Histoire de Tourbillon collection never cease to amaze us with its exceptional craftsmanship and high level of sophistication. In Baselworld 2016, we see the introduction of the Histoire de Tourbillon 7, leaving everyone eager to find out what Harry Winston has come up with to impress us all once again. Now, let’s take a closer look at what the Histoire de Tourbillon 7 has to offer.
In the last edition of the Histoire de Tourbillon, we see Harry Winston pushing the limits by including two independent hour indicators where one of it is regulated by a tri-axial tourbillon. The HW4701 movement houses close to 700 parts and boasts of a power reserve that lasts up to 80 hours for the tourbillon. The inclusion of a tri-axial tourbillon in a watch is involves much complexity and certainly requires a high level of craftsmanship to execute. This brings us to the question, how is Harry Winston going to surpass that achievement and continue to “wow” everyone with this year’s edition?
In this year’s Baselworld, we see the introduction of the Histoire de Tourbillon 7 featuring two biaxial tourbillons and yes, you didn’t read that wrongly, two biaxial tourbillons in this year’s edition of the Histoire de Tourbillon. This exceptional timepiece does show the strong innovative edge Harry Winston possesses to continuously push the limits and set a high bar for themselves to surpass each year. In coming up with the design of the watch, the watchmakers explored different options – biaxial, triaxial, double or coupled with a carrousel before they decided upon having two biaxial tourbillons.
The Case, Dial and Hands
The Histoire de Tourbillon 7 comes in a 18K white gold case with polished bezel and has a diameter of 50.9 mm. The case body comes finished in satin and its lugs are highlighted with a diamond bezel. Given the large diameter of the case, the watchmakers designed the lugs to be short and low-hanging so as to allow for the timepiece to sit nicely on the wrist of the watch owner. This shows the high level of detail Harry Winston watchmakers pay attention to in designing this timepiece. The crown of the watch carries the Harry Winston logo and it also features three arches that are meant to resemble the main entrance to the brand’s flagship store along Fifth Avenue, New York.
The dial of the watch has a slight skeleton design and is made with anodized aluminum and rhodium. It is divided into two areas, one side featuring the two biaxial tourbillons while the other indicates the time and power reserve. On the right side, we can see a pyramid-cut reading area that houses both the hour and minute hands. In creating the three-dimensional hour circle, the watchmakers made use of indexable inserts to tilt the sides. The minute markers are located on a strip of red aluminum or anthracite (depending on model) and it extends to cover both tourbillons as well as the power reserve indicator which is featured in roll form and flush with a domed sapphire crystal.
The left side of the dial features the two biaxial tourbillons; the first tourbillon cage moves into a second cage and both tourbillons rotate on a different axis. The overall design of the dial is certainly captivating and this can be attributed to the three-dimensional pyramid design of the hour indicators coupled with an extended aluminum strip or anthracite (depending on model) which surrounds the tourbillons, imparting a modern feel to the watch. The choice of colour also played a huge part in bringing out the beauty of the watch, black dial with red strips offers good contrast which is certainly visually appealing.
The Watch Movement
The Histoire de Tourbillon 7 is powered by the HW4502 movement and when compared to its predecessor the HW4701, the movement runs at the same frequency of 21,600 vibrations/hour (3 Hz). To power the movement, we see the Histoire de Tourbillon 7 featuring three rapid rotation coaxial barrels. In this edition, we see notable differences when compared to its predecessor. The first is a reduction in power reserve from 80 hours to 55 hours and next, the movement now only comprises a total of 507 components, lesser than the 683 components we see housed in the Histoire de Tourbillon 6. We believe all these changes were made so as to house two biaxial tourbillons within the timepiece.
The two tourbillons operate independently and thus behave differently, each biaxial tourbillon has 117 components with each tourbillon weighing at 0.76g, a remarkable feat given the number of components within each tourbillon. The tourbillon’s first cage completes its rotation in 45 seconds and it contains a balance wheel that is tilted 30 degrees. The tourbillon and the balance wheel remains housed in the second cage and operates on a different trajectory that lasts 75 seconds. The two cages are set one inside the other thus, taking up an infinite number of positions relative to gravity.
The construction of the movement carries certain hints of the Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30° where a tilted tourbillon is believed to strengthen the precision of the watch given that the watch would move in many different directions throughout the day. By having two cages and having the tourbillon tilted at 30 degrees, it allows the watch to make any required compensation for gravitational changes in different positions. Also, to better reconcile the operation of the two tourbillons, the Histoire de Tourbillon 7 utilises a spherical differential to optimize the performance of both tourbillons and create an average.
The movement’s bottom plate is in satin-finish and made using stippled titanium whereas the bridges are made of titanium, double Côtes de Genève motif. The tourbillon bridges are both polished and beveled by hand. Notably, the plate is 17 mm thick thus giving enough clearance for the height required by each of the biaxial tourbillon. Unlike its predecessor, the Histoire de Tourbillon 7 case back is fully covered and as a result, the workings of the movement could only be viewed from the front which is a pity given the high level of sophistication and the complexities of the movement.
The Histoire de Tourbillon 7 has certainly surpassed its predecessors in terms of raising the bar for fine watchmaking standards with this interpretation of contemporary Haute Horlogerie. The inclusion of two biaxial tourbillons is just impressive considering the amount of work needed in the construction of the movement to accommodate the two tourbillons. Also, it is worth noting that the watchmakers had to contend with the challenge of having two rotating time-regulating bodies working concurrently thus the need to create an average through the use of a spherical differential.
Like previous models, the Histoire de Tourbillon 7 is limited edition and comes in 20 pieces; 10 pieces in red and 10 pieces in anthracite. However, even when you consider the scale of complexity as well as the exclusivity of this timepiece, the watch seems way overpriced. Lastly, even though the timepiece features short lugs to allow for better fitting on the wrist, a diameter of 50.9 mm is still pretty huge and thus will still remain a concern for most in terms of having a proper fit.