Recently we brought you a detailed look at Vaucher Manufacture, one of the most prominent high-grade mechanical makers for third parties in the watch industry (read our article here). During our visit to the Manufacture we also took the opportunity to go hands-on with Vaucher’s latest development, the Seed VMF 5430. Today we show you an in-depth look at this extra-flat flying tourbillon movement.
Vaucher Manufacture holds a unique position among the high-grade movement manufacturers, being one of the rare ones with an ‘industrial’ production capacity. At the higher-end of the market, Vaucher also offers complicated movements, including some with tourbillon escapement. Among these, the Seed VMF 5430 is one of its latest creations.
The caliber Seed VMF 5430 is part of the 5400 family of extra-flat movements. While the 5400 is originally an automatic movement with micro-rotor, the 5430 is a hand-wound movement regulated by a flying tourbillon at 9 o’clock. It is made of 160 parts and features 22 jewels. Its power reserve is of 48 hours with a frequency 21’600 vibrations per hour.
For the ‘promotional’ version, the movement is nicely finished with circular graining on the main-plate. The bridges feature double snailing. The chamfers, sinks and counter-sinks are diamond-polished. The screw heads are black polished. Naturally though, all of this is completely customizable. Let’s take a close look at its inner workings.
What is a flying tourbillon?
The regulating organ of mechanical watches (the oscillator and escapement) is adversely affected by the influence of gravity. Changes of position have significant effects on the way these keep time, particularly disturbances in the balance wheel isochronism. In 1801, Abraham Louis Breguet patented a solution to negate the effects of the earth’s attraction; the tourbillon. A mobile carriage rotating at slow speed (generally once per minute) houses the balance, balance-spring and escapement with the aim to average out positional errors. The tourbillon is regarded as one of the greatest inventions of Breguet and, still today, it remains as evidence of the skill and craftsmanship of the watchmakers capable of manufacturing this captivating complication.
A flying Tourbillon is cantilevered: it is a skewed construction where the tourbillon cage is held by one side only, rather than being supported by bridges on both sides. A flying tourbillon is hence more delicate to make than fully bridged version and there is nothing to hinder a free view of the Tourbillon ballet. It was invented in 1920 by Robert Helvig a watchmaker and instructor at the Glashütte school of watchmaking.
The gear train architecture is traditional. Energy is stored within the barrel (1) containing the mainspring that powers the movement. The motion is transmitted through the center wheel (2), third wheel (3) and fourth wheel (4 – seconds wheel) and then an intermediary wheel (5) to drive the Tourbillon carriage (6). The fixed toothing (in red above) transmits the motion to the escape wheel (7), which in turn transfers impulses to the balance wheel (8). The Tourbillon rotates on ceramic ball bearings.
The tourbillon cage is made of light titanium. The anchor is made of nickel (Mimotec) and the escape wheel is in steel. Opposite the escape wheel, two brass counterweights balance the cage. The upper part of the cage is made of steel. This is typically a part (together with the bridges) that is often modified to suit the specifications of the client, as its shape is often seen as a signature for brands.
The Seed VMF 5430 is available with a minimum production of 10 pieces. Naturally, customization is available for small series. No doubt you will see it powering the collections of several brands soon!
Technical specifications – Vaucher 5430 extra-thin flying tourbillon with manual winding
- Fitting dimensions: 30.5mm
- Thickness: 3.4mm to the dial support, (4.2mm to the top of the tourbillon)
- Balance: variable inertia with gold inertia block, mobile balance stud holder, flat balance spring. Inertia: 5.75 mg/cm2.
- Frequency: 3Hz. 21.600 vibrations per hour
- Power reserve: 48 hours
- Jewels: 22
- Number of components: 160