10 of the best tourbillon watches from least to most expensive

10 of the best tourbillon watches from least to most expensive

Zach Blass

In just a few days, a significant horological holiday will arrive: Tourbillon Day. On June 26 1801, Abraham-Louis Breguet would patent the tourbillon – a new regulator that revolutionised watchmaking precision and timekeeping. Tourbillon, which translates to “whirlpool” or “whirlwind”, involves a mechanism in which the regulating organ rotates within a cage. With its perpetual rotation and shift in orientation, its movement negates the effects gravity can have on the accuracy of a watch – a particularly crucial development for pocket watches which rest in one fixed position in one’s pocket. In the modern era, a tourbillon is by no means necessary for accurate timekeeping. As Philippe Dufour once put it: “Your wrist is the tourbillon.” Nevertheless, the tourbillon complication, as one of a few high complications, is a coveted one by collectors due to manufacturing complexities and its sheer beauty. As such, tourbillons are typically associated with hefty price tags, but that’s not always the case.

Horage Autark Tourbillon

Horage Autark Tourbillon

A buying guide that lists the best tourbillon watches is understandably exclusionary. Horage, however, has made a name for itself by developing in-house tourbillon movements that are presented in watches surprisingly approachable in price. Its latest project, the Autark Tourbillon, is an incredible effort currently underway with deliveries to begin in 2025. A grade 5 titanium sports watch, with an in-house micro-rotor tourbillon movement, it boasts favoured dimensions of 39mm in diameter, below 9mm in thickness, and 48.3mm lug-to-lug, with a 100-metre depth rating. Its case-matching bracelet is highly sizeable thanks to Horage’s micro-adjustment clasp with ten notches that each offers a millimetre of adjustment. There are various dial colours to choose from, along with the choice to keep or omit the power reserve indicator. The K-TMR movement offers 72 hours of power reserve, uses a platinum micro-rotor for maximum efficiency, and has a silicon spring and escapement for resistance against magnetism – and this is all for below US$15,000. Price: CHF 12,990 (~US$14,500)

Frederique Constant Manufacture Classic Tourbillon

Frederique Constant Manufacture Classic Tourbillon Front Back

If you are interested in this price tier of tourbillon but would prefer a dress watch aesthetic, Frederique Constant and its Manufacture Classic Tourbillon is a solid option. Its in-house automatic tourbillon movement is packaged in a 39mm stainless steel case that is 50 metres water-resistant and 10.9mm thick. With its material and depth rating, the Manufacture Classic Tourbillon in steel is a feasible casual daily wearer. Price: US$15,695

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon Teal Front Back 2

Looking to split the difference with a watch that is both sporty and dressy? This past LVMH Watch Week, TAG Heuer launched a trio of Carrera chronograph watches outfitted with a distinct and eye-catching teal dial. At the higher end of this group is a tourbillon variant that, in consideration of brand prestige and high-complication, is positioned attractively in its retail price just below US$25,000. At 42mm in diameter and 14.3mm thick, its 100-metre water-resistant case is reasonably proportioned for most wrists – its higher thickness is forgiven when the bonus of a chronograph complication is considered. The watch is driven by TAG Heuer’s in-house automatic TH20-09 movement with 65 hours of power reserve.  Price: US$24,050

Breguet Classique 3357BA

Breguet Classique 3357BA front back

Unfortunately, as a high complication, few quality tourbillon watches are positioned below six figures – so we are making a bit of a leap here. Of course, it would be criminal not to showcase a Breguet watch in a best tourbillon watches list. The Breguet Classique 3357BA is one of the cleanest and most classic tourbillon designs the brand offers, housed in a 35mm precious metal case that feels vintage in size and can suit a very wide spectrum of wrists. Aside from Breguet’s marquee complication, the Classique 3357BA showcases many unmistakable signs of the brand. For example, you have an engine-turned dial, a unique production number, a secret signature, Breguet hours and minutes hands, a fluted caseband with welded lugs, and screwed bars instead of spring bars. Furthermore, the movement, seen on both the front and back of the watch, is gorgeously embellished with fine hand engraving. Price: starting at US$119,100 (in yellow gold)

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon Steel Front Back

Vacheron Constantin has plenty of more classic and dressy tourbillon watches to explore, but its Overseas offers a wide range of tourbillon variants with various metals and dial colours to choose from. All of the watches feature Vacheron’s signature three-strap bundle, with a quick-release bracelet, rubber strap, and leather strap to swap between – making one watch feel like three. Of course, befitting of the Vacheron Constantin name and its holy trinity status, the movement is exquisitely finished to the highest standards. Price: starting at US$129,000 (in steel)

Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon Pursuit

Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon Pursuit

Do you notice something strange about this Laurent Ferrier? The Grand Sport Tourbillon Pursuit won the Tourbillon Prize at the 2023 GPHGs, but its dial doesn’t actually show off the tourbillon – something that was more common in the past with brands like Patek Philippe. Considering the intricacy of its architecture, complexity of assembly, and visual beauty, it seems strange not to boast a tourbillon on the dial side. Laurent Ferrier perhaps found an appreciation for keeping tourbillons under the radar during his tenure in Patek Philippe’s Advanced Research department prior to starting his own brand.

Ferrier’s integrated bracelet Sport design is inspired by his passion for the automotive and motorsport world. Like the more standard Sport Auto, the Grand Sport Tourbillon Pursuit is fabricated in grade 5 titanium, but its dimensions have been enlarged to 44mm in diameter and 13.4mm in thickness (from 41.5mm x 12.7mm), and its depth rating has insignificantly dropped from 120 to 100 metres. Of course, collectors love a salmon dial, but it’s the reverse side which is most striking – with a beautifully hand-finished, hand-wound tourbillon movement that uses darkened and straight-grained bridges that allow the anglage and chamfers to really pop. Price: CHF 175,000 (~US$196,000)

F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain Vertical Calibre 1519

FP Journe TOURBILLON SOUVERAIN Calibre 1519 front back

When I first learned of F.P. Journe’s vertical tourbillon, I initially thought – what’s the point? Doesn’t this just make the watch unnecessarily thicker? To be clear, the F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain Calibre 1519 clocks in at 42mm in diameter and 13.6mm thick – so by no means too thick. The reason for the vertical orientation is to counter the notion of a tourbillon being somewhat purposeless in the modern era of watchmaking. When the watch is off the wrist lying flat on a table, it acts in the same manner a tourbillon in a pocket watch initially counteracted gravity while resting in a wearer’s pocket. Therefore, if the movement of a wrist acts like a tourbillon of sorts, it makes sense to position the complication to best counteract gravity while off of the wrist. The multi-axis nature of gyrotourbillons is probably the ultimate solution – but this remains cool nonetheless.

Further adding allure to the watch is the solid rose gold movement that also acts as the majority of the dial, its front side engine-turned for added visual flourish. The sub-dials are comprised of grand-feu enamel with black printing and the running seconds, thanks to its constant force mechanism, is deadbeat rather than sweeping. Price: starting at CHF 244,500, (~US$274,000)

Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire

Hublot MP 15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire front back

While the tourbillon could be described as a traditional horological art, the Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire turns the complication into modern art. This watch is indicative of just how skilled Hublot is at watchmaking, both in the mastery of materials and external construction along with the ability to develop in-house, high-complication movements. Murakami’s signature flower is well-known beyond the world of watchmaking, the form coveted and sought-after in the art world. So to have wearable Murakami art paired with a high complication is a really neat thing. Its sapphire case is somehow perfectly shaped into Murakami’s flower form, the curves of each petal irrefutably a huge challenge to manufacture. Inside, the in-house MP-15 flying tourbillon offers 150 hours of power reserve – quite the feat for a hand-wound tourbillon movement. Price: US$330,000

Grand Seiko Masterpiece SLGT005 Kodo at Daybreak

Grand Seiko Kodo Daybreak SLGT005 FRONT BACK 2

The sequel to Grand Seiko’s first-ever high complication watch, the SLGT003 Kodo, the SLGT005 Kodo at Daybreak is the second watch to use Grand Seiko’s 9ST1 constant-force tourbillon movement – the first to host both mechanisms on a single axis. “Kodo” roughly translates to heartbeat, and this nomenclature stems from the fact the distinct tick of the constant-force tourbillon that is akin to a musical 16th note. The watch is effectively identical to its predecessor, with the only differences being a movement that has not been darkened, swapping rubies for colourless sapphires, and a brighter leather strap, retaining the titanium and platinum case. Price: US$365,000

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon desktop

Launched this year at Watches and Wonders, Piaget made headlines with its debut of the thinnest tourbillon watch in the world. With the Altiplano Ultimate Concept, Piaget once boasted the thinnest wristwatch in the world at 2mm – a record Bulgari has since stolen back from Richard Mille. Rather than chase down this record once again, Piaget instead worked behind the scenes to incorporate a tourbillon mechanism into the Altiplano Ultimate Concept, suspending the cage with ball bearings, essentially making it a double flying tourbillon, a concept we delve into much deeper in our introductory article. Price: on request