It is a truism in modern watchmaking that nobody needs a tourbillon. While technically accurate, what is true of modern mechanical horology in general is certainly true of the tourbillon: it is not so much what you do as how you do it, that distinguishes you from the other guy. Carl F. Bucherer’s modern production of tourbillons took an interesting twist this year at Baselworld, when they introduced a tourbillon – the Manero Tourbillon Double Peripheral – with both a peripheral rotor, and a carriage driven at its periphery, which seems to be floating inside the movement with no mechanical coupling to the rest of the watch. For the firm’s new Heritage Collection, a limited edition of the Manero Tourbillon Double Peripheral has been introduced, with a more elaborate dial treatment and with an engraving of a view of Lucerne, the home of Carl F. Bucherer, on the movement.
As with the original version, for serious movement enthusiasts, the big draw is perhaps less the design per se than the configuration of the automatic winding system and the tourbillon. The peripheral winding system is a variation on a standard automatic winding system: an oscillating weight, set in motion by the arm movements of the wearer, winds the mainspring and keeps the watch running. In a conventional automatic winding system, the rotor sits on top of the movement plate, which has two potential disadvantages: first, the rotor adds thickness to the movement; and second, the rotor tends to obscure the view of the movement itself (this is of course assuming the movement is something you would want to look at in the first place).
One possible solution to both problems is to use a micro-rotor, which is set into the movement plate itself; as there are no free lunches in mechanical engineering, this comes with its own set of drawbacks, including a reduction in available space for the barrel, going train, and regulating organs, as well as inherently lower efficiency. Another solution, which is somewhat more rare, is to put the winding weight on the edge of the movement plate and on the same level – this is the so-called peripheral winding system.
There have been very few attempts to make a peripheral winding system work; Patek Philippe filed patents in the mid-1960s, but no one really put peripheral winding automatic movements into regular production until Carl F. Bucherer launched its CFB A1000 caliber in 2008 (for more info, check out our 2016 coverage of one of the CFB A1000 derivatives, the CFB A2050). Combining the system with a tourbillon is an even rarer move, and for the double peripheral tourbillons, Carl F. Bucherer has added not just a tourbillon, but a rather unusual one as well: the cage is driven not by a pinion at the center of the cage, but by a peripheral gear system which is nearly invisible. The caliber CFB T3000 is also a chronometer, certified by COSC.
The general aesthetics of the Heritage Tourbillon Double Peripheral Limited Edition are, as you might expect from the name, more overtly reminiscent of the designs you’d find in elegant dress watches from the mid-20th century, and the watch is all the better for it; the ingenuity of the mechanism seems to call for a slightly elaborate approach to the case, dial, and hands. As is generally the case with Carl F. Bucherer, the execution of the various dial side elements is very clean, albeit with the slightly understated flavor that characterizes much of classical wristwatch design from Switzerland.
The movement of the Heritage version is considerably more decorative than in the Manero version – the visible plate is in white gold and has been engraved with a view of Lucerne’s Chapel Bridge, or Kapellbrücke, which is the oldest surviving wooden truss bridge in the world as well as the oldest covered bridge in Europe, and which was originally completed in 1365 as part of the old city’s defensive perimeter.
The Carl F. Bucherer Heritage Tourbillon Double Peripheral Limited Edition will be produced in a series of 88 watches world wide and US pricing is $88,888; both figures are an homage to the founding of Carl F. Bucherer in 1888, which is a better than usual rationale for the often mystifying figures chose for the prices of high-end watches. It impressed us overall as a soberly well-executed version of an unusual and technically interesting modern tourbillon – look for it to appear in early 2019.
The Carl F. Bucherer Heritage Tourbillon Double Peripheral Limited Edition: ref. 00.10802.03.13.01. Case: Rose gold, water resistance 30 meters; 42.50mm x 11.90mm. Movement, automatic, CFB T3000 caliber, COSC-certified, diameter 36.50 mm, height 4.60 mm, 32 jewels, power reserve of 65 hours, hand-engraved 18 k white gold bridge, 22 k rose gold rotor. Strap, brown alligator with 14k rose gold double folding clasp with pin buckle. For more, visit carl-f-bucherer.com.