On April 25, 1995, Omega filed a patent filing based on the invention of Maurice Grimm and André Beyer, US Patent No. 5,608,694. When it comes to tourbillons, Maurice Grimm’s name may not resonate like Abraham Louis Breguet. In 1986, Audemars Piguet introduced the industry’s first self-winding tourbillon watch. Swiss watchmaker Maurice Grimm was behind the scenes.
Even for more knowledgeable watch fans, the word ‘patent’ is still a technical blind spot that is difficult to understand. If you only need to understand the main points, you can jump directly to the “claims”. Omega’s patent rights are mainly: the central tourbillon (visible on the side of the disc, without any blocking) and the use of radial fixed gears to drive the minute disc.
For the past 20 years, under the protection of this patent, the special high-end workshop of the Swiss headquarters of Omega Bill has designed and produced a limited number of tourbillon watches in the center. After April 25 this year, patent protection has expired, and any brand can (at least in theory) produce a tourbillon watch with a center. So, why are there only two brands (Bulgari and Hasselblad) that do this?
Hessio IO Jumping Hours Tourbillon
Hasselblad candidly, the brand faced two options when developing the center tourbillon watch: using a polished bridge to cover the tourbillon frame to avoid the Omega patent; or to make the flying tourbillon clearly visible and wait for the Omega patent to expire . Hesse chose the latter to maximize the visual impact of the center tourbillon. To this end, Hesike also specially adopts a whirlwind-like jumping display design to highlight it. The final effect is the theater concentric reading mode: the central tourbillon outwards is a golden curved minute hand; further outwards, it is the time display window.
In addition to finding different time-division display methods, the application of the central tourbillon also brings a series of challenges. All movement components need to be redistributed around the tourbillon. The conventional central gear must be set at an eccentric position, the Canon gear (controlling the movement parts) must be installed upside down, and the space for the barrel is also relatively reduced. This time-of-flight tourbillon watch is equipped with Hesse’s fully autonomous HW20 skeleton movement. The barrel is directly meshed with the central axis. The specifications remain within acceptable limits. It can provide 45 hours of power reserve and is equipped with a pearl winding Energy storage. The HiSec IO Time Tourbillon watch is available in red gold bezel with or without diamonds, each limited to 88 pieces.
Bvlgari Papillon Tourbillon Central Butterfly Tourbillon
Coincidentally, another mid tourbillon watch released this year also uses the time jump display design, and is similar to the Heisec watch, it is also derived from the existing time jump style. Bvlgari’s patented Papillon mechanism carries two independent, flexible telescopic diamond hands on a support plate. When the first pointer is located on the circular dial, the minute changes are displayed; when it points to the 55th minute scale on the display dial, the second pointer is rotated 90 degrees forward, parallel to the first pointer, and two pointers Run alternately.
As a result, the minutes can be displayed in the lower half of the disk, while the upper half can be used for jumping hours. At the same time, the minute display does not need a real reverse jumping mechanism. This watch is equipped with a BVL 266 manual winding movement, which provides a 60-hour power reserve. The case diameter is 45 mm, and it is available in platinum and 18K red gold, with a limited edition of 10 and 30 pieces each.
Why so rare?
In the era of tilted tourbillons, double tourbillons, three tourbillons and even four tourbillons, it seems strange that only two brands accept the challenge of the central tourbillon. However, perhaps this is more a question of brand identity and focus. The Coperfus brand is characterized by a multi-tourbillon and an inclined tourbillon; Cartier is known for its highly complex and transparent tourbillon structure. Applying design from 20 years ago can be regarded as a retrogression, but then again, we should mainly consider the issue of adapting design to brand identity. The seamless connection between design and aesthetics, what Hesike and Bulgari can do, may not be possible with other brands.