Tourbillon – South Coast Plaza

tourbillonb Tourbillon   South Coast PlazaUsually when you hear the words complicated and expensive together, it’s not a good thing. Or even worse, grand complications and expensive? You just know it’s going to be bad. Unless, of course, you are talking about a watch. Then it is a very, very good thing. And those are the only types of watches you will find at Boutique Tourbillon in the South Coast Plaza.

Before I go into what complicated and Tourbillon mean to us layman, I would like to thank the wonderful and informative Nikki Malek. She showed us a fabulous time, literally. For 30 minutes we forgot about every day life and viewed, even tried on, watches that were on average $100,000 and more (the diamond covered Breguet, shown bottom left being just one of them). Some of these watches make a Rolex look like your first Casio digital watch! While I have to admit my eyes widened quite a bit upon hearing the cost, Nikki pointed out that “wearing a fine timepiece is much more then just telling time. It represents craftsmanship and this is what makes them timeless.” Watches like these are an investment in a legacy.

Tourbillon is not only the name of the boutique that carries the world’s finest watches; it also refers to how the watch is built. Invented in 1795 by French watchmaker, Abraham-Louis Breguet, Tourbillon is an actual mechanism that counters the effects of gravity by mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage. The Tourbillon mechanism, usually displayed on the watch’s face, is found on some of the world’s most exclusive timepieces and demonstrates what is often referred to as watchmaking virtuosity. In addition, complicatons refer to the number of functions that a watch has, beyond displaying just the time and date. The more functions, the more complicated the timepiece.

The 7 brands found at Boutique Tourbillon all carry a rich history behind them, as well as more than just a bit of intrigue. Perhaps the most fascinating story of all we tell you with help from the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaking group and owner of all 7 brands carried at the Boutique. It is of a watch made by Brequet, and it is the tale of the n° 160, also known as the Marie-Antoinette Grande Complication Pocket Watch. In 1783, one of her admirers ordered the most complicated, pure gold watch possible as a gift to the queen. Unconstrained by limitations of cost or time, Breguet had free reign to build the most spectacular watch the world had seen. Unfortunately, the queen never had the opportunity to admire the timepiece. It was not completed until 1827, 34 years after her death, 44 years after it was ordered and four years after the death of the founder. But the tale does not end there…

In 1983, what is often referred to as the most famous watch in history was stolen from a Jerusalem museum. In 2005, co-founder of the Swatch Group, Nicolas G. Hayek set himself the challenge of reproducing it identically (the finished piece shown above, bottom right). During this time, Versailles was removing an oak from it’s palace grounds, Marie-Antoinette’s favorite tree. The wood was secured and used in building the presentation case for the watch. Just when the manufacture of the watch reached its end in 2007, the stolen original suddenly and magically appeared again in Jerusalem, some 25 years later. How’s that for intrigue?

Want a modern day love story? Boutique Tourbillon carries the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tourbillon that Angelina Jolie bought Brad Pitt as a reverse push present for the twins, Knox & Vivienne.

While we know this isn’t a luxury most of us can afford (including us), do yourself a favor if you have the chance, view these magnificent timepieces in person. You’ll never think of complicated as a bad thing again!

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Written by winnie


  1. Profile photo of winnie

    These watches were insane! They were so gorgeous! it really was a blast trying them all on. The staff there was amazing! Unfortunately, i’m not currently in the market for a $100,000 watch. I do LOVE watches and my dream purchase has always been a mens’ gold rolex with the blue face. Sorry, i don’t the actual style or correct terminology and i can get that for the low low cost of $26,000! Who knew there were watches out there that make Rolex look like a bargain basement item!

  2. Profile photo of irene

    Whoa! Wow wee! I uttered these words plenty in Tourbillon’s boutique at South Coast Plaza. What made it better still was how everything was explained and then shown to us. Yes, we held these watches with mouths agape, of course! It was clearly evident that Nikki took incredible pride in her job. She explained everything so precisely. It was important to her to tell us all the details about each timepiece. Their beginning, Their story. Their collections feature scores of models fitted with a tourbillon regulator, invented and patented by watchmaking genius A.-L. Breguet. I would have loved to have met the man who started this company! But it was long ago.. way back in 1801! Seven is one of my favorite numbers.. and would you believe that only at a Tourbillon Boutique can you find seven watch brands with such clout! They boast of Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Léon Hatot, Omega and Swatch. Say that in one breath! If you have the means, i highly recommend one, or two!

  3. Profile photo of Stef Andrews
    Stef Andrews

    What I found so amazing about these watches was the history. You just felt like you were looking at something that was so much bigger than just what you saw. Like the Marie-Antoinette Watch, imagine a watch 34 years in the making. Pretty incredible. I don’t know if a timepiece like this is ever going to be in my future, but honestly, just seeing them and learning about them made me feel fancy!

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