Ever since its inception in 1801, the tourbillon has served as a practical invention as well as a mechanical curiosity for enthusiasts of engineering. Moving towards the 20th century, the tourbillon has evolved in being a way for watchmakers to showcase their skill and prowess – the components of the cage and escapement highlighting a manufacturer’s abilities in fabrication, and the abilities of their watchmakers. This is ever prevalent in the way that the regulator is highlighted – most often displayed dial-side, front and centre for the wearer to admire. With the interest in watchmaking increasing at an unprecedented level in recent years, Horage has devised a new version of their famous tourbillon wristwatch that encourages curiosity in mechanical watchmaking, whilst delivering fantastic value for existing and new customers to the brand. Say hello to the Lensman 1 – inspired by the world of photography, bringing a microcosm to the wrist even closer to view.
The Lensman 1 was brought to life by watch and photography enthusiasts, some of whom are in the Horage team itself. Combining these worlds resulted in a piece that honours the creator of the tourbillon, Abraham-Louis Breguet, and the creator of the 35mm camera, Oskar Barnack. The watch itself is a modern classic design at first glance, but handling it reveals details that keep you searching for more. The 41mm case is 100m water resistant, and is executed in Grade 5 titanium, a material that allows for better case finishing than is typically seen in watches that feature Grade 2 titanium. Properties of this grade of titanium can be seen in the finishing of the lugs – polished on the top surface, and brushed on the side. Aesthetics of the case were derived from a traditional manual camera lens, with the bezel incorporating a design similar to the focus ring of a lens used for focusing the lens, and the case band is engraved with the markings of an f/0.95 aperture ring – one of the rarest type of lenses available to professionals and enthusiasts.
In fact, if you’re somewhat familiar with photography and with cameras, you would know very well the exact lens that the case band engraving is inspired by. And if you’re still clueless, just google the words Leica Noctilux” and you will get all your answers.
The dial of the watch appears blacked out, inspired by the original Barnack camera that featured near-entirely black furniture and engravings. On the Lensman 1, the black dial contrasts with the grey titanium case, with markers in black SuperLuminova, and the Horage branding subtly greyed out. The diamond cut hour and minute hands do provide legibility for the dial, contrasting with the blacked out aesthetic. At 6 o’clock, the aperture for the flying tourbillon can be found, and it is here that another curious camera-related design element can be found.
The tourbillon cage is magnified by a cyclops lens, enabling a greater view into the fascinating regulator. To avoid reflections, the sapphire crystal has undergone an anti-reflective treatment, receiving five layers of coatings to enable supreme clarity at all angles – with an added benefit of helping the watch to be very photogenic. Echoing the dial, the crown has an onyx set into it, continuing the black theme of the camera inspiration. On the reverse side of the watch, a sapphire crystal caseback enables the rest of the K-TOU movement to be seen. The watch is delivered on a calf leather strap, with the buyer’s choice of black or red stitching. A convenient deployant buckle is also included in the package.
The K-TOU movement housed within the Lensman 1 is very similar to that seen in the earlier Tourbillon 1 watch. The escapement components – the escape wheel and the pallet fork are crafted from silicon, as is the balance spring. This enables longer service intervals, and considerable protection from magnetic fields – this also represents an upgrade from the original movement, which utilised a conventional hairspring.
Curiously, the tourbillon cage is crafted from titanium, which is not usually seen in tourbillon watches from smaller brands and independents. The movement also delivers a 120 hour power reserve via single barrel, and is accurate to chronometer standards (-4/+6 seconds per day). Impressive value for a tourbillon watch.
With all of this considered, we would expect a Swiss made tourbillon watch to be almost unobtanium – the combination of labour and manufacturing being prohibitively expensive for the average watch collector. However, Horage has always had the customer in mind, and has designed this for pre-order at a price of CHF 8,390. Prior Horage customers that have spent more than CHF 1,000 with the brand can lock in a preferential rate of CHF 7,990 – a way to say thank you to its loyal fans. After the initial pre-order round ends, the Lensman 1 is available for order until February 28th 2023 at CHF 8,890. There is a cap of 500 pieces for this watch, and the first watches will be delivered in April 2023. Pre-orders will also receive a photography book that is individually numbered, limited and signed, and two straps – a black stitch and red stitched calf skin strap.
Once again, Horage paves the way in affordability for watches that are produced in-house, and offers incredible value that is unmatched by even the largest watchmaking houses. Bringing the tourbillon to more people is an amazing feat of design, engineering and manufacturing, and at the very least, Horage should be on the radars of all watch collectors for its sheer value proposition.
K-TOU hand-wound flying tourbillon, titanium cage at 0.29 grams and 3.4mm thin, anti-magnetic silicon escapement inclusive of anchor, escape wheel and hairspring, chronometer accuracy at -4/+6 seconds per day, 19 jewels, 3.5 Hz (25,200vph), 120+ hour power re- serve (5 days), blacked out aesthetic on movement main plate. Blued seconds indicator screw on tourbillon cage.
T5 titanium – hand polished and brushed, laser etched with camera lens aperture on side, fixed bezel inspired by camera lens focus ring.
Black with black gold applied indices, black Super-Lumi- Nova® luminous inserts, flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, 60 minute track.
Diamond cut hour and minute hands with black Su- per-LumiNova® luminous inserts.
Push/pull Grade 5 titanium with black onyx inset stone.
Domed sapphire with multi-layer internal anti-reflective coatings, round cyclops magnifying lens over tourbillon aperture at 6 o’clock.
Exhibition, double layer anti-reflective sapphire crystal, engraved with paraphrased quote by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Black or red stitched hand/Swiss Made calf leather with camera body-inspired texture and Horage‘s proprietary deployant buckle.