DescriptionJaeger-LeCoultre, Swiss, Highly Important & Unique Triple Flying Tourbillon Prototype Clock, Ref. No. 3-215-006, circa 1980
Case: Étrier form, polished, brushed and rhodium plated, glazed on both sides, matte with polished faceted base, slotted top, 153 mm x 113 mm
Dial: polished and rhodiumed "baton" hands moving between the glasses
Movement: modified 8 day caliber 250, frosted gilt, going train arranged in a straight line in a bar frame, flying tourbillon carriage held in a single ball-bearing, lateral 70 degree lever escapement with the pallet fork mounted also in a single ball bearing and the escape wheel in a single jewel, monometallic balance controlled by a self-compensating Breguet balance spring
Signed: signed on the case, dial and movement
The clock is revolutionary in its design. It is the first known "flying" tourbillon run in ball bearings with two additional "flying" components - the pallet fork and the escape wheel - a "triple flying" tourbillon. Both the escape wheel and the pallet fork run in a single bearing, the fork in ball bearing, the wheel in a double-jewel bearing. The other ends are free, or flying, as named by their inventor, Albert Helwig (1886-1974), who was the technical director of the Deutsche Uhrmacherschule.
This design was later implemented in one form or other in some of the most important flying tourbillon's, such as IWC's "Da Vinci", the most complicated of them all, and Dunand, Vulcain, which made a stunning entry at the Basel Fair, and more.
With the advent of modern tourbillon's, improved solutions were necessary, either making the watch thinner or improving the function and assembly. Assembling a carriage in a regular tourbillon is difficult and risky because the escape wheel bridge obstructs fitting the carriage. This led to many broken carriage arbors. The design of this clock allows for thinner movements and simplifies the assembling.
The clock appears to be the first tourbillon addressing and eliminating this problem by introducing a free-end (flying) escape wheel and free end pallet fork. Here, unlike in other tourbillon's, the escape wheel pinion slips into the engagement with the tourbillon's stationary wheel, eliminating the risk of damage.
With the modern fascination with tourbillon's, some manufacturers, notably Lange, IWC, and a few others, have worked on new designs for production-type tourbillon's - ones wherein the carriage rotates only around one end of its arbor, and in others appears "flying" in the air. A new method was needed for its bushing, a constant problem for the few makers (Holland 1902, North 1903, Helwig 1924, and a few others) daring enough to make flying tourbillon's in the past. The logical solution was to implement ball-bearings already used in self winding mechanisms, known in rough form since 1929. However, the precision required in tourbillon's was much higher, requiring special lubrication precautions, and therefore difficult to assemble.
Ultimately the industry succeeded, resulting in some of the most stunning flying tourbillon wristwatches. The concept's humble beginning started with this clock. The Étrier (Stirrup) model was designed by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1933. At that time, it ran on caliber 201, a typical circular movement hanging on a leather ribbon from the stirrup's slot. With the development of the caliber 210 in 1938, the Étrier model began its present skeletonized form. Caliber 250, an improved version of the 210, was introduced in 1979. The present example must be from the early series, since subsequent 250's were rhodium plated.
Type: Jaeger-LeCoultre, Swiss, Highly Important & Unique Triple Flying Tourbillon Prototype Clock, Ref. No. 3-215-006, circa 1980
Dial: polished and rhodium hands between glasses
Hands; baton hands
Metal: stirrup form
Case Info: polished and brushed, slotted top
Case Length: 153 mm x 113 mm
Watch Movement: modified 8 day caliber 250, frosted gilt, going train arranged in a straight line in a bar frame, flying tourbillon carriage held in a single ball-bearing, lateral 70 degree lever escapement with the pallet fork mounted also in a single ball bearing and the escape wheel in a single jewel, monometallic balance controlled by a self-compensating Breguet balance spring
Condition: all in very good condition, running well, case very good, dial good
*Heritage Auctions strongly encourages in-person inspection of items by the bidder. Statements by Heritage regarding the condition of objects are for guidance only and should not be relied upon as statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty, or assumption of liability by Heritage. All lots offered are sold "AS IS".
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