The Sought-After Tourbillon Mechanism Timepiece

Halim Family Museum of Time Glass pic

Halim Family Museum of Time Glass

Cameel Halim guides CH Ventures, LLC, and undertakes commercial real estate investments spanning Wisconsin and Illinois. For many years, Cameel Halim has collected mechanical devices such as clocks and watches and has overseen the creation of the soon-to-open Evanston institution Halim Family Museum of Time & Glass.

One of the most sought-after timepiece types is the tourbillon, which was invented by Abraham Breguet in the late 17th century and patented in 1801. With tourbillon meaning “whirlwind” in French, the mechanism features a balance wheel that spins on itself in an oscillating manner, similar to a revolving pendulum. There are single axis and multiple axis tourbillons, with the mechanism placed in a “cage” that nestles within the watch face.

The practical purpose of the tourbillon is to counteract gravity’s effects and provide accurate timekeeping. In today’s watch market, in which the chronometer has surpassed the tourbillon for accuracy, this purpose has given way to the prestige of ownership. The extremely delicate and expensive nature of the mechanism means that contemporary tourbillon watches such as the Zenith Defy Xtreme Zero G Multi-Dimensional Tourbillon Watch retail for half a million dollars.