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Thomas Prescher Triple Axis Tourbillon Regulator

The World’s Only Triple-Axis Flying Tourbillon Wristwatch

A triple-axis tourbillon is extremely rare; a triple-axis tourbillon wristwatch even more so. However, Thomas Prescher’s triple-axis flying tourbillon is not simply extremely rare – it is absolutely unique.

Prescher’s Triple Axis Tourbillon Regulator features one of the world’s most exclusive and most difficult complications to assemble, set to stunning advantage in a jet-black natural onyx dial that contrasts beautifully with the pink-gold case. 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.

Thomas Prescher has both an affinity and a talent for complicated tourbillons: while his classmates were submitting simple movements for their watch at the end of apprenticeship school, Prescher presented a half-flying tourbillon that confirmed his position as the top of the form. In 2003 he presented the world’s first pocket watch with a flying double-axis tourbillon. On seeing Prescher’s pocket watch, one of his colleagues mentioned that he thought a double-axis tourbillon was impossible in the constrained space of a wristwatch. Prescher not only met but surpassed the challenge a year later with a wristwatch trilogy of single-axis, double-axis and triple-axis tourbillons.

At this extreme level of micro-mechanical sophistication and miniaturisation, watchmaking ceases to be about timekeeping and becomes pure art. Or perhaps that should read “arts”, because we have both the sublime static beauty of a fine painting in the harmonious forms and colours, as well as the graceful movements of the ballerina in the whorled path traced by the mesmerizing triple-axis tourbillon dancing apparently weightlessly in space.

Why a flying tourbillon?

A normal tourbillon is supported by bridges top and bottom that obstruct a clear view into the tourbillon. Although much more difficult to achieve, Thomas Prescher chose to make his triple-axis tourbillon fully flying, i.e. supported by just one side so that very little impedes visual access to the kinetic ballet of the triple-axis tourbillon.

Further ensuring that absolutely nothing diminishes the pleasure of enjoying the tourbillon in all its beauty, the complex and intricate triple-axis tourbillon mechanism is driven via two conical gears instead of the easier gear-to-gear solution. Thomas Prescher was the first, and is still the only watchmaker to use this system.

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!

Constant-force mechanism

While the triple-axis tourbillon mechanism, which includes the escapement wheel, pallets, anchor, balance spring and balance wheel, is extremely light in weight – the smallest screw is less than 1/1000th of a gram – it is actually heavy in relation to the amount of energy available. 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 has 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, i.e. with every beat of the oscillating balance. 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 “Jeanneret” constant-force system used requires no energy-sapping levers, but works efficiently using the different inertias of the escapement wheel and tourbillon carriage.

Technical Specifications

Triple Axis Tourbillon Regulator
Calibre TP 3W6A.3; mechanical hand-winding indicating hours, minutes and seconds; flying tourbillon with constant-force in carriage; tourbillon flying on all axes; tourbillon with shock protection.

Caliber TP 3W6A.3 – Movement dimensions: 37mm x 6.5mm – Parts: 327; Jewels: 43; Power reserve: 40 hours – Mainspring barrels: 2 (connected in parallel); Balance wheel: copper-beryllium CuBe2 – Balance frequency: 21’600 bph/3hz – Balance spring: flat hairspring; Plates and bridges: gold-plated brass; Smallest screw: 0.0009 grams

Tourbillon, constant-force mechanism and oscillator: Axes: 3 – Tourbillon rotation height: 12.2mm – Full revolution: 1st axis one minute, 2nd axis one minute, 3rd axis 60 minutes
Constant-force mechanism: positioned in the tourbillon cage – Constant-force system: Jeanneret’s inertia acceleration – Constant-force loading: 6 times per second
Diameter of balance wheel: 9.5mm – Diameter of tourbillon cage: 13.4mm – Weight of tourbillon 1st axis: 0.347 grams – Weight of 1st and 2nd axis: 0.766 grams
Weight of 1st, 2nd and 3rd axis (incl. bearing): 2.879 grams

Number of bearing jewels: 43 total – 1st axis: 5 x balance, 4 x escapement, 4 x constant-force mechanism; 2nd axis: 2 x flying arm; 3rd axis: 4 x drive mechanism, 4 x setting mechanism; movement: 10 x time indication mechanism, 10 x gear train

Case, dial and strap

18kt rose gold (also available in platinum) measuring 43mm x 16.5mm. Double AR-coated sapphire crystals and water resistance to 10 meters.

Dial and hands: Natural black onyx, 50 per cent thicker than usual for a richer/deeper black, 18kt gold-applied indices, 18kt gold Dauphine-style hands, 18kt gold engraved name and serial number plate (also available with hand-guilloched or custom decorated solid silver dial).

Strap and buckle: Hand-crafted black alligator uppers and lower, 18kt rose gold (or platinum) tang buckle to match case material.

About Thomas Prescher

Thomas Prescher’s passion for horology was born of a childhood obsession with collecting crystals and minerals. As a teenager on a visit to a local jewellery shop, his eye drifted to the watchmaker working at his bench and he was smitten. He began working part-time at the store and became familiar with the mechanics of watches and clocks. However, at 19 he joined the German navy, leaving six years later as a Captain.

After the navy, Prescher decided to study watchmaking and he won the single apprenticeship position offered yearly by IWC. The watch he crafted at the end of his four-year apprenticeship – which he completed in three years – was a rare, half-flying tourbillon and he came top of his class.

Prescher then moved to Audemars Piguet in Frankfurt, where he also obtained his Master Watchmaker certificate. Then it was back to Switzerland to work in the restoration department of Gübelin where he had the opportunity to restore some of the world’s most iconic and complicated timepieces and to create bespoke watches for special clients.

Four years at Gübelin was followed by a brief spell at Progress Watch, then a position as Production Manager for Blancpain. In 2002 Prescher opened his own restoration atelier, making time to craft a watch of his own that became the world’s first double-axis tourbillon with constant-force device. This earned him his place as a candidate of the AHCI in 2003.

In 2004, Prescher stunned the horological world with the presentation of his incredible wristwatch trilogy comprising single-axis, double-axis and triple-axis tourbillons – all flying tourbillons with constant-force mechanisms. Alongside his tourbillon models, Prescher is also well known for his distinctive Tempusvivendi line in which the time is displayed by figures at the push of a button. His new Sculptura Una collection functions in the same way, but with conventional hands. In 2009, Prescher surprised again with a completely new development: an instant perpetual calendar with coaxial indications for optimal legibility.


Written by kevin

June 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm

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