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Hands-On: Horage Tourbillon 1

Horage Independent watchmaking News Reviews SJX

Hands-On: Horage Tourbillon 1

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Horage Tourbillon 1 3 (1)

Source Credit:  Content and images from SJX Watches by Cheryl Chia.  Read the original article - https://watchesbysjx.com/2020/03/horage-tourbillon-1-review.html

Beginning in the early 2000s, tourbillon wristwatches started to become more affordable as watch brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre and movement makers like Swiss Time Technology (STT) debuted aggressively-priced watches and movements. Notably, none of these products left a lasting impact; nearly all have faded away.

More recently, the 2016 launch of the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T tourbillon chronograph for just under US$16,000, continued the trend – a sharp increase in the affordability of the tourbillon but also a downward spiral in its desirability.

Bucking the trend is the Tourbillon 1 from Biel-based startup Horage. Perhaps the most interesting and impressive affordable tourbillon to date, the Tourbillon 1 manages to be surprisingly low cost while being notably good, in design and execution.

The Tourbillon 1 in its myriad dial options

Now the most affordable Swiss-made tourbillon on the market – by a large margin since it retails for only 6,990 Swiss francs – the Tourbillon 1 is a slim, hand-wound wristwatch equipped with skeleton movement that has flying tourbillon and a silicon escapement – as well as COSC-chronometer certification.

More impressive than the price is the smart design of the movement. From the motion works to the gear train and the tourbillon, it was conceived to have a slim profile while offering a clear view of the tourbillon from both the front and back. And because it is a crowdfunded exercise, the movement can be ordered in a variety of colours.

As a result of the slim movement, the case of the watch measures just 9.95 mm high and 41 mm wide. It has a simple, fuss-free finish that doesn’t detract from the visual complexity of the dial. The bezel and top surfaces of the lugs are polished while the case band is brushed.

Of all the components of the watch, the case is the one that feels like a Kickstarter product; it is basic and cost-conscious but good enough given how much, or little, the Tourbillon 1 costs.

In-house expertise

Horage was founded in 2007 by entrepreneur Andi Felsl and his wife Tzuyu Huang, a couple long involved in the watch industry. Ms Huang was formerly the chief executive of movement parts maker Momo Plus, which is now owned by Swiss engineering and metals group Cendres+Métaux.

She was also the founder of movement maker THE+, a joint venture between Horage and German startup watch brand Teyos, which produces the K-TOU tourbillon movement for Horage. THE+ was responsible for constructing and designing the tourbillon movement, while some parts come from La Joux-Perret, the movement maker owned by Citizen.

THE+ got its start with simpler movements, with the first being the K1 full-rotor automatic launched in 2015. Developed as a practical and cost-efficient calibre for Horage, the K1 was designed with the help of Stephan Kussmaul, an engineer who now works at ETA but is probably best known for designing the versatile and robust Eterna Caliber 39.

The K1 movement in the Horage Multiply. Photo – Horage

The K1 was equipped with a silicon escapement and, like the Caliber 39, was designed with modularity in mind – allowing for the integration of complications without increasing its height. THE+ then developed the K2, an automatic with a micro-rotor, with the K-TOU tourbillon movement making its debut this year.

At a glance, especially from the back, the K-TOU movement appears vaguely familiar, and for good reason. The movement borrows its gear train from the A300 movement made by La Joux-Perret for its sister company Angelus. While the two movements are visually similar, they are also substantially different – the K-TOU has a longer power reserve than the A300.

The going train made by La Joux-Perret

Other components, namely the larger ones such as the main plate and bridges, are manufactured by THE+ AG. Horage then carries out the finishing of components as well as assembly.

Geometric skeleton

Visually, the Tourbillon 1 does not immediately look like a skeletonised watch, because of the open-worked chequerboard grid – modelled on the Horage logo -​ on the front and back, but it is. The mainspring inside the open barrel is visible from the front, allowing the state of wind to be approximated from the coils of the spring.

The skeletonised mainspring barrel

Designed by a watchmaker at THE+, the main plate and bridges of the movement are inspired by the Horage logo, a tiled mosaic spelling out its name. Both the base plate and bridges designed with strategically positioned apertures in the grid, in order to exhibit the entire transmission system, starting from the skeletonised barrel to the flying tourbillon and silicon escapement.

Because of the compact gear train, the balance wheel is small, allowing it to operate at a relatively high frequency of 4 Hz, or 28,800 beats per hour.

More unusual are the twin going trains spread out horizontally – one drives the hands and the other, the tourbillon – to make the movement as slim as possible. The going train for the hands was designed with slightly smaller gears so that it does not obstruct the view of the tourbillon cage.

The tourbillon is driven by a gear train on its periphery rather than the conventional pinion beneath the cage, offering a clear and airy view of the tourbillon cage. These subtleties, along with the flying tourbillon anchored only on the bottom, result in a movement that measures just under 10 mm high.

The cage is driven by a wheel on its periphery rather than at the back

The jewelled bearing for the bottom pivot of the tourbillon

High-performance silicon

For its developers, chronometric performance and reliability are as important as its aesthetics. Consequently, the tourbillon is fitted with an escapement entirely in silicon. In fact, it’s the same escapement found in the Horage K1 movement.

Both the escape wheel and pallet fork made by Hahn-Schickard, a German micro-engineering institute associated with the University of Stuttgart that does most of its work for the electronics and medical industries. The German institute is just one of a handful of companies, including Neuchatel-based CSEM – the research institute primarily responsible for developing silicon technology for watchmaking – that are capable of producing silicon watch parts.

The silicon pallet fork and escape wheel

The physical properties of silicon, such as its low-density, an ability to be fabricated precisely, as well as a perfect surface state, allows the material to operate with little energy and virtually without lubrication. As a result, the movement has a power reserve of 72 hours as opposed to the 60 hours of the Angelus A300 that shares the same gear train.

Even though the movement is obviously cost-efficient, while also relying on modern materials for good timekeeping, it has been dressed up enough that it is appealing, especially for US$7,000 watch.

The finishing of the movement is mechanically executed but clean and attractive; the decoration suits the geometric style of the movement well. Bridges and plates are finished with straight graining, while the recessed, solid squares of the grid are decorated with a frosted finish. All of the apertures of the grid have sharp, machine-applied bevelling, while the wheels are decorated with circular graining.

The ratchet and crown wheel are visible on the back, and there is no winding click; instead, the click spring itself wedges into the barrel ratchet wheel

Concluding thoughts

The Horage Tourbillon 1 offers significant value for money. Not only does it feature a slim, smartly-designed flying tourbillon movement, it also includes features that improve performance on a fundamental and tangible level, namely a silicon escapement and consequently a longer power reserve.

In addition, the Tourbillon 1 will be limited to just a single production run, with number made depending on how many are ordered, making it fairly uncommon.


Key facts and price

Horage Tourbillon 1

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 9.95 mm
Material: Stainless steel or 18k yellow gold
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: K-TOU
Functions: Hours and minutes
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Hand-wound
Power reserve: 72 hour power reserve

Strap: Leather with pin buckle

Availability: Pre-order on Kickstarter
Price: 6,990 Swiss francs (rising to 7,490 in stage-two pre-order)

For more information, visit Horage.com.


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Source Credit:  Content and images from SJX Watches by Cheryl Chia.  Read the original article - https://watchesbysjx.com/2020/03/horage-tourbillon-1-review.html

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