We got our hands on this interesting Swiss Made Tourbillon by Horage – the Tourbillon 1. The watch was introduced in March 2020 and is currently the least expensive Swiss tourbillon in the market. The edition will complete on September 1, 2021 (yes, next week). Here are our thoughts on the watch.
Side Note: Those who might have heard of the Horage Tourbillon 1 might also have heard of the crazy marketing stunt they are currently pulling to put up three of the first five prototypes they received from La Joux-Perret. La Joux-Perret was the original partner to develop the movement for the new low priced tourbillon. But the partnership fell apart before production began and Horage were left with the prototypes. As these were perfectly working movements, they decided to case them and offer it up as a lottery of sorts. It takes USD 1 to enter, and all proceeds will go to help out the next generation of watchmakers with tuition. They encourage multiple entries for higher chances to win. They redubbed this their Horage Tourbillon $1. To enter to win a Horage Tourbillon $1 model, visit the Tourbillon $1 website page.
On review here is the production Tourbillon 1 available to order, subscription style till September 1. This features their new in-house developed and manufactured movement instead of the prototype La Joux-Perret movement offered in the Tourbillon $1.
Review: Horage Tourbillon 1
Order price is CHF 7,480 before taxes on the Horage website until September 1. COSC certification is offered at an additional CHF 300.
The Horage Tourbillon 1 was offered from March 2020 as a subscription piece. The movement is initially to be manufactured by La Joux-Perret in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. However, things did not work out, and Horage, decided to develop their own in-house movements to take on the task themselves. This resulted in the K-TOU movement used in the production Tourbillon 1. This Tourbillon 1, with the new in-house movement will end its run with the last order on September 1, 2021.
The case, dial and hands
The case is in 904L stainless steel, the same steel as is used by Rolex in their steel watches. Horage tells us that 904L steel is not only more corrosion resistant, but also provides a superior sheen when polished. Even the ridged, rather bulbous crown is made of 904L stainless steel. The case shape is a rather standard 3 piece affair, with a round, sloped bezel, and a case middle which is round and flat sides. The lugs which extrude organically from this case middle ring in a single piece. The case middle measures 39.1mm as specified and the bezel itself is slightly larger at 40.4mm sitting atop the middle with a small lip on the edge. The bezel features a high sheen polish which extends to the top of the lugs, while the case middle has brushed sides. The case back is a circular screw down bezel which feature machined tool slots as part of the design, integrating it to the various identification engravings. The case is rated to a water resistance of 100m, rather good for a tourbillon, and perhaps suggesting its use in more sporty environments. The overall feel of the case is rather sleek, and elegant. At 39mm in diameter, it is “right sized” for most wrists.
Sapphire crystals are fitted on the front and back. The dial itself is minimalistic, comprising of a chapter ring for the minute markers on the periphery of the watch face.
The other part of the face we see is a square grid lattice which is integrated into the movement. This design is inspired by the Horage logo which is made of up of small square dots. The logo is printed on the underside of the sapphire crystal, and can be seen hovering over the dial. This grid design is echoed on the front as well as in movement plates visible from the case back. The grids feature open and closed windows. The open windows reveal the skeletonized movement, while the closed windows are bead-blasted. The lattice itself is straight grained, and the edges are beveled with a 30 degree angle anglage and polished. A circular, anglaged opening measuring 14mm is placed at 6 o’clock and reveals the tourbillon. It is a pity that Horage did not take the opportunity to showcase sharp angles on the lattice work as the corners featured rounded edges. Perhaps including sharp inward and outward angles will be too expensive an exercise to contemplate. Still it is a nice touch to do good anglage on this many edges, especially on a watch at this price point. And the juxtaposition of the brushed top with the polished anglage makes a nice textural aesthetic as it plays with the light.
The flying tourbillon is designed with a rather large carriage, with a construction that is also different from a regular tourbillon. Standard tourbillons are driven through the pinion by the second wheel, while the carriage engages with the stationary third wheel. And one can see the second wheel extending from the center of the dial to midpoint of the lower part of the carriage. In the Horage, this arrangement is different. Visible from the left of the dial side below the grid, is a series of 4 wheels (3 visible from dial side). This wheel train is the unusual drive system to deliver power to a wheel attached on the carriage. The tourbillon pinion then engages with the fixed third wheel. This driving mechanism results in a few more wheels than the regular tourbillon, but has the advantage that the wheel train is composed of small wheels, allowing an unobstructed view of the tourbillon, which seem to float in its own space. A ball bearing assembly supports the flying tourbillon. This arrangement, together with the flying design allows for a flatter movement, the entire carriage measuring only 3.9mm high, a low profile to keep the watch slim. Horage claims this design is also more efficient, a claim supported by the 120 hours power reserve.
The dial also features SuperLumnova square dots (again an echo of the dots which make up the Horage logo, on each 5 minute mark. SuperLuminova is also infilled on the sword shaped hands for the hours and minutes, and on a triangle on one of the arms of the tourbillon carriage to show the passage of the seconds.
Overall, the aesthetics are rather pleasing. Though some have commented that the lattice grid structure looks like the movement is imprisoned by the cross hatched bars, we disagree. We think this architecture works rather well, and it is a design that grew on us as we wore the watch on a daily basis. Finishing on the dial and case is good, and keeping in line with the rather inexpensive asking price.
The movement – Cal. K-TOU
Visible from the case back is the in-house designed and manufactured movement which Horage calls the K-TOU. From the case back, the same lattice grid structure is applied to the bridges. The rear of the tourbillon carrying the jewel and the ball bearing system is visible through a large square within the lattice, and the mainspring barrel and its associated keyless driving wheel and click is also visible. The same finish of the 30 degree anglage is applied to the brushed grid, giving it the same pleasing contrast in textures as the front dial side. The anglage is nice and even, and feature a nice sheen which is rather fetching when it catches the light.
The movement beats at an atypical 3.5Hz. The La Joux-Perret prototypes (offered in the Tourbillon $1) operate at the more standard 4Hz with a power reserve of 72 hours. Power reserve on the K-TOU is a rather long 120 hours. This can be felt when winding the watch by hand, where we notice that the crown does get quite stiff progressively, and it take a long time to fully wind the watch. A slip clutch is designed into the barrel system, allowing the crown to slip when the spring is full.
The K-TOU movemnet also carries a silicon escapement of German origin. Horage claims that this is the only component that is not from a 45km radius of the Horage manufacture location in Biel/ Bienne Switzerland
As mentioned, movement finishing is judged to be adequate, with some bright sparks (the anglage being one). We also particularly like the innovation to allow the tourbillon to be clearly visible, with the unusual drive system. The movement is not heavily decorated in haute horlogerie style, and keeps within the boundaries mandated by its modest pricing.
The competitive landscape
This section is going to be short. As the competition on this landscape is perhaps non existent. It stood when it was introduced, and as it still stands now, the Horage Tourbillon 1 is the least expensive Swiss made tourbillon in the market. Handily undercutting the TAG Heuer Carrera 02T Chronograph Tourbillon by some CHF 8,000 to debut at CHF 7,480. Admittedly the TAG also includes a chronograph for additional utility, but the pricing level offered by Horage is unrivaled.
Lower priced tourbillons are available in the market, but these will inevitably be those from mass market Chinese manufactures. Needless to say, these tourbillons are not quite at the level of the Swiss or Germans, and leave quite a bit to be desired in terms of finish and reliable operations. Perhaps soon these Chinese tourbillons may be able to offer an alternative, but as of now, we do not think they do.
This is a very interesting watch. A tourbillon at this pricing level is unheard of…unless one is talking about Chinese tourbillons. The construction is not a straightforward copy of existing designs, as it incorporates some interesting and clever features built into the tourbillon’s power delivery to qualify it as innovative. The finishing is good, and very much in line with the sub CHF 10k watches without tourbillons. The design with the grid is one which is eye catching. And though the watch we received on loan for this review is monotone silver in its colour palette, legibility is not an issue in both good and subdued lighting conditions. The addition of lume helps when lighting levels fall, and is a useful feature.
Overall, a worthwhile watch to consider. And certainly at this pricing level, no other Swiss Made option exist. In the week the watch was with us, it kept good time, as the COSC certification may already have suggested. And to add more to the buy equation, Horage offers many levels of customization to the Tourbillon 1…from polished steel cases to steel brushed finished ones, and even gold options. They also offer the possibility to select the colour of the lattice grid – from the silver one we have on our review sample, to gold coloured, grey, blue and grey and blue. If you are interested, act fast, for the last order will be accepted till September 1.
This series was photographed in our studio. With the Hasselblad 907X with CFV 50C II (review coming soon) and HC 4/120 Macro lens attached via the XH Adapter. Profoto strobes.
Horage Tourbillon 1. Brief specifications.
CASE & DIAL
Case: 904L stainless steel
Dimension: Lug width 22mm, Lug to lug 47.8mm, top ring 41mm, case body 39mm, total thickness 11.8mm, case height (excluding glass) 10.8mm
Dial: Double layer luminous appliques applied at hour markers
Hands: Hour and minute hands, luminous filled hands. Seconds hand on tourbillon cage
Crystal: Multi-Layer anti-reflection domed sapphire crystal, Horage logo applied on backside of sapphire crystal
Case Back: Sapphire crystal
Crown: 904L stainless steel
Water resistance: 100m
Movement: HORAGE K-TOU, 19 jewels
Functions: Hand winding, silicon escapement, +120 hour power reserve, tourbillon revolves every 60 second with start indication at 3 o’clock
Strap: Black Grip Leather, Classic Black Leather, Blue Grip Leather, British Racing Green Leather, Russet Leather, Ocre brown leather, Frosted White leather, Allure Blue Vegan
Buckle: Single fold stainless steel deployant buckle