Auction Report: A Souscription F.P. Journe Chronomètre À Résonance And Tourbillon Souverain, Coming Up At Phillips Geneva Watch Auction 11

The Tourbillon Souverain was a watch that went through a very long gestation process. The first prototype was completed in 1991, and I think many watchmakers would have stopped there. In 1991, tourbillon wristwatches of any kind were still extremely out of the ordinary, and fitting one with a remontoire d’égalité was unheard of. The tourbillon, as every watch enthusiast learns early on, was invented by Abraham Louis Breguet and patented in 1801. It is a device intended to improve timekeeping by averaging out all the rate variations in the vertical positions of a watch. These four positions are crown up, down, right, and left – a watch will typically run at slightly different rates in each position and at a slightly different rate in the two horizontal positions as well. One of the great tasks in classic precision horology is to adjust a watch so that there is as little variation in rate between the positions as possible, and with a tourbillon, one ought to be able to adjust the watch so that the single average rate in the vertical positions matches that in the flat positions. Making a tourbillon by hand is an extremely demanding task, as the going train has to drive not just the balance, but the tourbillon carriage as well, which has on it the escape wheel, lever, and balance. 

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