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Cabestan Winch Vertical Tourbillon review

by Peter Chong on December 27, 2014

At Deployant, we are no strangers to Cabestan and are frankly great fans of the Winch Vertical Tourbillon. Recently, a piece unique from the Cabestan Winch Vertical Tourbillon range was delivered to its proud new owner. We were there to record the joyous occasion and to photograph the watch. Cased in yellow gold, with customized drums for the barrel and hours, and a diamond right in the center of the watch, this is a magnificent time piece. The watch being reviewed is the property of a lady collector.

 

The watch, some history

 

The Winch Tourbillon by Cabestan. This piece is unique, as it features customized barrel markings, hour markings and a diamond solitaire.

The Winch Tourbillon by Cabestan. This piece is unique, as it features customized barrel markings, hour markings and a diamond solitaire.

 

Some of our readers may remember that the original Cabestan. The watch’s inspiration and design was influenced by yachting. Cabestan being French for capstan, the winch typical of those used in a yacht to move the sails. The initial collaboration was between Jean-Francois Ruchonnet and the insanely genius Vianney Halter. This collaboration was not to last, and eventually, Ruchonnet stopped work with Halter and continued the project with his partner Andreas Stricker. The firm and watch met with critical acclaim, however, commercial success was not within reach. Ruchonnet was not able to solve most of the technical problems and internal production issues involved in making a hugely complicated watch like the Winch Vertical Tourbillon. He recruited another genius watchmaker, Eric Coudray, fresh from his adventures with the Gyrotourbillon at Jaeger LeCoultre. But the company was unable to make great strides commercially. Most observers thought the watch to be too expensive, at CHF360,000 before tax in Switzerland.

Read also:   Baselworld 2016: Zenith Academy Tourbillon Georges Favre-Jacot

 

Enter Lionel Betoux

Lionel Betoux, CEO and Owner of Cabestan

Lionel Betoux, CEO and Owner of Cabestan

 

Then along came Lionel Betoux. A veteran watch industry engineer, who had worked in Rolex, Lionel saw potential in Cabestan and purchased the company, lock stock and barrel in 2012. He continued to work with Eric who focused on the technical aspects, solving all the remanding technical issues. The product was working flawlessly, at last. He then went on and began work on future technical development for the brand. Lionel himself went to work to fix the structural issues within the Cabestan organization, and rebuilt the company with a new team. One of his first bold moves was to reduce the price of the only model being offered at that time – the Winch Vertical Tourbillon. Sales picked up, especially with the now well functioning watch. Within two years, Cabestan has grown from strength to strength, and now offers two additional models, the Trapezium and the Luna Nera in addition to the Winch, all featuring the same base movement with the vertical tourbillon.

 

The Cabestan Winch Vertical Tourbillon

 

The Winch Vertical Tourbillon. The case is very unusual, angular, yet with the waves, perhaps reminding one of its yachting origins.

The Winch Vertical Tourbillon. The case is very unusual, angular, yet with the waves, perhaps reminding one of its yachting origins.

 

The basic design of the Cabestan watches is one which uses a fusée and chain system providing power to the movement train. Time is displayed by two rotating drums for the hour display and minutes and another drum is mounted on the tourbillon to carry the seconds hand display. A further drum is mounted on the fusee to display the power reserve. The new watch, now caliber CAB EC 101, carries many improvements instituted by Eric Coudray. Amongst which is a new jumping hour display instead of the continuously moving hour drum. This makes the time reading much easier than the creeping drum of the earlier model. The numerals on the drum is also enlarged for better readability.

Read also:   Review: Chopard LUC Full Strike Minute Repeater

 

The fusée and chain mechanism. The way this is implemented is via the reverse fusée system.  In a regular fusée and chain system, the chain wraps around the mainspring and goes directly across to the fusée. In this reverse fusée system, the chain makes half of a figure of 8. Technically, this will allow the torque from the mainspring to be balanced across the pivots of the fusée and barrel as they are being pulled by the tension of the chain in opposite directions.

The fusée and chain mechanism. The way this is implemented is via the reverse fusée system.
In a regular fusée and chain system, the chain wraps around the mainspring and goes directly across to the fusée. In this reverse fusée system, the chain makes half of a figure of 8. Technically, this will allow the torque from the mainspring to be balanced across the pivots of the fusée and barrel as they are being pulled by the tension of the chain in opposite directions.

 

In theory, the reverse fusée system is superior to the ones implemented in the various Lange Pour le Mérite watches as well as in the Zenith and Breguet. But in practice, experts tell us there is little significant difference. Still, the concept of the reverse fusée is one which is purer to the theoretical model.

 

As can be clearly seen, the chain runs from the bottom of the fusée, and wraps itself from the top of the mainspring barrel.

As can be clearly seen, the chain runs from the bottom of the fusée, and wraps itself from the top of the mainspring barrel. Compare this to the detail photograph of the fusée in the Zenith Academy Georges Favre-Jacot reviewed earlier. Note also on the fusée is mounted a drum which indicates the remainding power reserve in hours.

 

The vertical tourbillon is a bit hidden, as there is no visual access from the sides of the case, but it is still quite a spectacle, and as the tourbillon is a one minute rotation cycle, it carries the second hand.

 

Detail of the tourbillon, and the drum carrying the seconds hand indicator.

Detail of the tourbillon, and the drum carrying the seconds hand indicator. The tourbillon is regulated such that the watch keeps +/- 1 second a day. Quite impressive, even for a tourbillon.

 

Read also:   Pre-Baselworld 2015: Angelus U10 Tourbillon Lumiere

The solitaire diamond, set on what would have been an exposed case screw, as requested by the current owner adorns and shines brilliantly.

 

Diamond, on its own holder.

Diamond, on its own holder.

 

The wheel train from the canon wheel on which the hour drum is mounted is visible with the skeletonized third wheel, which drives the tourbillon carriage.

The wheel train from the canon wheel on which the hour drum is mounted is visible with the skeletonized third wheel, which drives the tourbillon carriage.

 

The case back, showing the movement plate, and cutouts where the drums are also visible. Note the curved case back, which makes the watch comfortable to wear, even on a small wrist. This is regardless of the rather large case dimensions. The case measures 46mm x 36mm x 16.5mm LWH.

The case back, showing the movement plate, and cutouts where the drums are also visible. Note the curved case back, which makes the watch comfortable to wear, even on a small wrist. This is regardless of the rather large case dimensions. The case measures 46mm x 36mm x 16.5mm LWH.

 

The buckle is also unique. And houses a little winch in a compartment. The winch is used to wind and set the watch.

The buckle is also unique. And houses a little winch in a compartment. The winch is used to wind and set the watch.

 

The finishing of the watch is de rigeur, all the essential finissage items are completed to a good engineering level. If we compare to what is in the market, perhaps we would say the finising is about the same level as those in the watches by Audemars Piguet or Richard Mille. We feel that although the finishing is fully adequate functionally, it is perhaps a bit lacking in terms of the aesthetics that adorns many top grade, high end watches. Especially when we compare the Winch Tourbillon Vertical  to the likes of Greubel Forsey, A. Lange & Söhne, Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe. But perhaps that is unfair comparison, as the watches from these maisons of comparable complexity would be far more expensive.

 

First touch: delivery of the new Cabestan Winch Tourbillon piece unique with customized markings on the drums and a diamond in the center. Property of a lady collector.

First touch: delivery of the new Cabestan Winch Tourbillon piece unique with customized markings on the drums and a diamond in the center. Property of a lady collector.

 

We are quite excited about the Winch Vertical Tourbillon, nevertheless. It is provides an unusual way to read the time. The watch has a unique and elegant case design, so unusual it is perhaps a conversation starter. The movement is an innovative package featuring a fusée and chain system driving a vertical tourbillon. The movement is so unique, that Cabestan does all the work in-house in their factory. And at the new price of CHF175,000 for the watch in titanium, we think is a relatively good value…if that much money can be regarded to be good value. What do you think?

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