Quantum Deconstruction: What makes a $480,000 dollar watch tick?

by Carol Besler

Photography by: Mario Miotti

The Concord C1 Quantum Gravity Tourbillon has more going for it than its long name, enormous case and astronomical price. It has something under the hood, and so it should for $480,000.

One, it’s a tourbillon, the most prestigious and difficult of all watch complications to produce. A tourbillon is always hand assembled, by master horologists only, and stands as a tribute to a brand’s watchmaking prowess. In a tourbillon, the escapement, consisting of balance wheel, hair spring and pallet forks, function inside a carriage (or cage) that rotates once every 60 seconds. The seconds hand in many tourbillons—and this one is no exception—is often therefore attached to the tourbillon cage.

Two, it’s the world’s first bi-axial tourbillon extended to the case side and anchored in the vertical position (including the seconds hand, which travels out there with it). The tourbillon was originally created for pocket watches in 1801 to compensate for the effects of gravity on the escapement. Because pocket watches were kept in the breast pocket, the tourbillon was designed to function in the vertical position. The Quantum Gravity is a tribute to this tradition. The biaxial rotation means it keeps better time.

Three, it’s big, but it ain’t heavy. Most of the movement components, including baseplate, bridges and large second wheel are made of lightweight aeronautical grade aluminum alloys. Much of the case is titanium, which is tougher and lighter than steel. This makes the watch highly wearable.

Four, this is the world’s first vertical liquid superluminova column-construction power reserve indicator. Why the big deal about power reserve? Aside from making the watch stand out like Shrek in March of the Penguins, it highlights the fact that the Quantum Gravity has intense power capability. Operating the watch requires a lot of torque to keep the tourbillion in motion through the long shaft from the mainspring through the gear train to the escapement. An extra-large mainspring barrel solves the problem, and gives the watch a three-day power reserve.

Finally, it’s the biggest, boldest, craziest tourbillon ever created—an extrovert’s dream come true.