Bonhams, London, 11 June 2014
Sold for £11,250
Tourbillon escapements first appeared in wristwatches during the 1930s, but few were made due to the extreme difficulty of reducing the mechanism’s size and, perhaps more significantly, because the need to compensate for gravity’s effect on a watch being kept vertical is largely irrelevant when worn on the wrist.
But the gradual resurgence of the mechanical watch in the late 1980s gave makers the impetus to once more rise to the challenge of tourbillon construction, with Audemars Piguet and Blancpain spearheading the mechanism’s return to popularity – although by 2000, there were still only 35 brands worldwide with a tourbillon watch on their inventory.
To my mind, any watch that was at the forefront of the modern day revival of the tourbillon wristwatch must be considered collectible – so this 1988 Audemars Piguet seems like something of a bargain.
Not only was it one of the first modern tourbillon watches, it was also the world’s first automatic tourbillon and had the one of the smallest-ever cages that, to cap it all, was also made from titanium.
Typically for an AP dress watch, it was exquisitely thin, thanks to the fact that the back plate of the movement also served as the back of the case.