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Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Triple-Axis Flying Tourbillon Wristwatch

It’s difficult to say, much less build, but independent Swiss watchmaker Thomas Prescher says he has created the world’s only triple-axis flying tourbillon wristwatch.

As Prescher explain it, a normal tourbillon is supported by bridges top and bottom that obstruct a clear view into the tourbillon. He said he chose to make his triple-axis tourbillon fully “flying,” in other words supported by just one side so the triple-axis tourbillion can easily be seen.

The triple-axis tourbillon mechanism is driven by two conical gears. Prescher says the difficulty in supporting anything by just one end is balance. “When an object is supported on two sides its equilibrium is not as critical as if it is supported on only one. However, imagine balancing an object moving through not one, not two, but three different planes.”

The triple-axis tourbillon mechanism includes an escapement wheel, pallets, anchor, balance spring and balance wheel. It is extremely light, with the smallest screw weighing less than 1/1000th of a gram. But he says it is actually heavy in relation to the amount of energy available.

Prescher says one of the major issues regarding multi-axis tourbillons is ensuring an ample supply of power to the escapement, the mechanism that regulates timekeeping. To resolve this problem, Prescher added a constant-force device inside the tourbillon cage turning around the first axis. This device transmits energy directly to the escapement six times per second. The main power train drives the tourbillon and recharges the constant-force spring so that it always has sufficient power on tap for the escapement.

The triple-axis tourbillon mechanism can easily be seen inside its black onyx dial. Regulator-style hours and seconds are each indicated in their own separate sub-dial, while the constantly animated tourbillon tracks the minutes during its one-hour rotation. The dial and mechanism is housed in a pink-gold case.

Prescher is offering tours of his workshop in Twann, Switzerland, this summer. Visitors will be able to see how a timepiece is developed, produced, assembled and regulated; and learn about the machines used by watchmakers as well as the techniques they use to master their craft.

In addition, visitors will be able to sit at a watchmaker's bench and use their tools to work on real watch components, practice fine finishing techniques on a tiny steel part and, finish a real tourbillon bridge.

Contact Thomas Prescher at or at +41 (0)32 315 28 66 for more details.

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