2020 is the 100th anniversary of one of the most sophisticated inventions of haute horlogerie: the design of the Flying Tourbillon by Glashütte master watchmaker Alfred Helwig. In his honour Glashütte Original presents the Alfred Helwig Tourbillon 1920 – Limited Edition, featuring a classic, elegant face. Inspired by historic models built by Helwig and his students at the German Watchmaking School Glashütte, this new interpretation of the “whirlwind” is positioned, like its predecessors, with understated elegance on the reverse of the movement.
Pure elegance and exceptional craftsmanship
The new timepiece from Glashütte Original is an example of pure elegance, technical sophistication and exceptional craftsmanship. This splendid masterpiece is limited to 25 pieces and presented in a rose gold case. The dial is fashioned in solid gold and subsequently silver-plated by friction. A railroad chapter ring and rod index appliques lend the timepiece an elegant, classic appearance. The filigree baton-style hands in rose gold contribute to the understated look of the watch as a whole.
The eye-catcher is the seconds display, which is positioned at 6 o’clock and bears the inscription ”Tourbillon”. The latter serves as a subtle indication that this timepiece reveals its many sophisticated aspects in the course of time – certainly not at first glance. With this model, in fact, the famous Flying Tourbillon is hidden on the reverse of the movement – in keeping with the historic models of Helwig‘s era.
Alfred Helwig and the Flying Tourbillon
The Flying Tourbillon was developed in Glashütte in 1920 by one of the most eminent of German watchmakers: Alfred Helwig. In contrast to the classic tourbillion anchored on both sides, Helwig’s elegant construction required only a single anchor on the underside, with the result that it appears to be flying within its cage.
In an open frame, the balance and escapement revolve steadily around their own axis at precisely 360° per minute. In this way, the tourbillon effectively counters the negative influence of gravity on the rate precision.
The German Watchmaking School Glashütte – the domain of Alfred Helwig
The German Watchmaking School in Glashütte was founded in 1878. Through its training of a great number of master watchmakers, it achieved considerable influence over the art of German watchmaking as a whole. In 1913, at the age of 27, Alfred Helwig was appointed to a position as technical instructor at the famous training institute. There he dedicated himself – together with his master class students – to the development of particularly accurate timepieces featuring cantilevered tourbillons, which Helwig called "rotary gear watches".
From 1920, a series of such watches was developed under his direction and in accordance with his concept. When tested by the German Naval Observatory in Hamburg, the general testing centre for precision clocks and watches, they achieved excellent results. Alfred Helwig taught at the renowned watchmaking school for 41 years, in the course of which he trained more than 800 apprentice watchmakers. His publications remain important reference works for watchmakers, regleurs and watch collectors today.
Since 2008 the historic building that once housed the German Watchmaking School Glashütte has been home not only to the German Watch Museum Glashütte, but also to the Historic Workshop of Glashütte Original, whose staff specialise in the restoration and maintenance of valuable timepieces made in Glashütte. Final assembly of the 25 pieces of the new limited edition will be performed by these supremely competent specialists, which means this masterpiece will not only bear the name of Alfred Helwig, but will have been produced at the original site of his work as master watchmaker and teacher.
This timepiece is powered by the finely finished Calibre 54-01 manual winding movement, which features a remarkable running time of 100 hours. The eye-catching element on the reverse of the movement is, of course, the filigree Flying Tourbillon. Numerous elaborate decorations and finishes such as the sunburst decoration on the spring barrel cover, Glashütte stripes on the three-quarter plate, blued screws and screw-mounted gold chatons, as well as a great number of polished steel parts, contribute to the fascination of this masterpiece of the Glashütte art of watchmaking. A brown Louisiana alligator leather strap with a pin buckle ensures a secure fit on the wrist.
About Glashütte Original
Glashütte Original upholds the values of authentic manufactory production and can look back on an uninterrupted history that began in 1845. Located in the Saxon town of Glashütte, the manufactory brings traditional craftsmanship and innovative technologies together under one roof. The tradition-rich brand produces up to 95 % of all movement components as well as the filigree dials in-house and represents the highest levels of German watchmaking art.