Hands-On – Schwarz-Etienne ‘La Chaux-de-Fonds’ Tourbillon
Presented in 2016, the La Chaux-de-Fonds Tourbillon was named as a tribute to the city where the brand was founded in 1902 by Paul Arthur Schwarz and Olga Etienne. After exploring some of their watches (such as the Tourbillon Seconde Retrograde) and having taken a closer look at the manufacture, we now go hands-on with their dial-side micro-rotor flying tourbillon watch.
The La Chaux-de-Fonds Tourbillon is the first Tourbillon movement presented by Schwarz Etienne since it embarked on a vertical integration strategy a few years ago, when Raffaello Radicchi invested in the company to reinvigorate this century-old brand (read our introduction article about the brand here). It is an iteration of a family of movements, which commenced with the presentation of the MSE (Manual Schwarz Etienne) caliber in 2012; a nice 13’’’ ¼ lignes twin barrel movement with 6 bridges, and boasting 4 days of power reserve. It was followed by the ASE (Automatic Schwarz Etienne – 2013), the ISE (Irreversible Schwarz Etienne – 2015) and then the TSE (Tourbillon Schwarz Etienne -2016) that we are reviewing here.
At 30.4 mm in diameter, the caliber TSE121.00 is a large automatic movement with its micro-rotor on the dial side, which, together with the ballet of the tourbillon, adds a lot a visual depth and dynamism to the watch face. Schwarz Etienne opted for a flying tourbillon, a skewed construction: the absence of an upper bridge provides an unhindered view of the mechanical processes taking place. It is fully developed and manufactured in-house, including its balance wheel and even the hairspring. The power reserve is 3.5 days and it runs at a frequency of 21’600 vibrations per hour.
The movement is partially visible, as inset from the Roman numerals, the centre of the dial is openworked. The positioning of the micro-rotor, barrel and tourbillon on the main plate forms a nice balance. It is finely decorated with Geneva stripes, sandblasting and hand-chamfering.
The elegant case is rendered in steel or pink gold, and despite its rather large diameter (44 mm), it wears well thanks to its wrist-hugging cambered lugs. Its back is engraved with a gears motif, and it has a round opening around the tourbillon. It features a concave bezel framing a sapphire crystal. It is superbly finished with alternate satined / polished surfaces, while the crown is engraved with the brand’s logo.
The Tourbillon La Chaux-de-Fonds is paired with a qualitative alligator strap with alligator lining and a folding buckle. For more information, visit www.schwarz-etienne.com.
Technical specifications – Schwarz Etienne Tourbillon La Chaux-de-Fonds
- Case: 44 mm x 13.40 mm– steel or pink gold – sapphire crystal – engraved case back with opening on the tourbillon – water resistant to 50m
- Movement: TSE121.00 – 30.40 x 6.35 mm – mechanical with automatic winding (micro-rotor) – 3.5 days power reserve – 21’600 vibrations/h – 34 jewels – hours and minutes – one-minute flying tourbillon – 219 parts.
- Strap: alligator strap with alligator lining, folding buckle
- Price: CHF 44,280 in steel, CHF 69,100 in pink gold