In around 1795, watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet and his team developed the tourbillon: a rotating cage that fits inside a mechanical watch to keep gravity from affecting the delicate motion of the movement. Nowadays, the tourbillon is considered by some to be outdated -- but it's still a beautiful piece of precision engineering.
One, watchmaker Nicholas Manousos believes, that is worthy of honour. "In my opinion," he wrote, "a tourbillon is the ultimate expression of mechanical beauty."
That's why he has created a working 3D-printed model of the tourbillon, at a scale of 1,000 percent -- although he notes that the size is more due to the resolution limitations presented by 3D printing than any particular burning desire for a giant tourbillon.
"The 1,000 percent scale is a result of the resolution capabilities of today's 3D printers, but it has an unexpected benefit," he said. "It allows people to hold the usually too delicate tourbillon in their hands, see clearly every single part at work, and therefore fully comprehend the mechanics."
Intended as an education tool, the model -- which took three years to develop -- is made of renewable thermoplastics and uses precision ball bearings as jewels -- the only part not made in-house by Manousos. The escapement, balance wheel, spring, axes and screws are all 3D printed.
The tourbillon is available in very limited numbers, and can be customised according to the needs of each client. To enquire about pricing -- or just look at more pictures -- visit Manousos' web page.