The McGonigle brothers decided that their first watch should be a Tourbillon. A Tourbillon is a simple idea that is difficult to make and very difficult to make well.
The McGonigle brothers decided that their first watch should be a Tourbillon. A Tourbillon is a simple idea that is difficult to make and very difficult to make well. It’s a good place to start for a first watch as it is a perfect base to establish a pure and coherent design for subsequent creations.
They wanted to distil the elements that they loved and respected in the masterpieces that had passed through their hands while working in restoration.
As watchmakers McGonigle strive for elegance, simplicity, precision and reliability. In their efforts to achieve these goals they have taken the view that less is often more. This is a principle they adopted with the design of their Tourbillon.
The basic design of the movement and most of the components has been sourced from Christophe Claret.
The movement is a hand winding mechanical tourbillon with a 110 hour power reserve.
Either red, blue or clear jewels can be used depending on the colour of the material used for the case.
The principle McGonigle adopted with the Tourbillon cage is a very definite ‘less is more’. They have decided to dispense with the regulator to adjust the timekeeping of the watch. This eliminates one of the eight elements that disturb the regular timekeeping of a watch. Put simply to regulate a freesprung watch it is necessary to balance the weight of the balance with the length of the balance spring. It’s not a simple task.
Rather than add weight to the Tourbillon cage, to poise it, they have removed weight from the other side. The net result is a lighter cage. A cage stops, recoils and accelerates six times every second. A lighter cage makes this effort more efficient. Less is more. It also happens to look cleaner and more beautiful to our biased eyes.
The Mainplate and Engraving
The mainplate and bridges are made from an alloy referred to as German silver. This has traditionally been used on only the highest grade watches because of its rigidity. They have finished the recessed areas of the mainplate and the underside of the bridges with fine spotting or ‘pearlage’. The back of the mainplate is hand engraved with a Celtic inspired design by Frances McGonigle. The edges of these components are hand bevelled. The remaining surfaces are circle grain finished. They have elected to leave the mainplate and bridges without an electroplated finish. McGonigle thought it a pity to hide the beautiful lustre of this metal.
Steelwork and screws
McGonigle conducted the heat treatment themselves of key components using special jigs to reduce the risk of distortion. McGonigle felt this was necessary because of the shape and fineness of certain components.
McGonigle hand bevel their steel components, and flat polish them on tin blocks with diamond paste. This produces what is referred to as a ‘black’ polish.
All screws are hand slotted and bevelled. The top surfaces are flat polished by hand on tin.
The side of all steel, components and screws are straight grained.
The train wheels and barrel have the unusual feature of wolftooth gearing.
This style of gearing was often used in late nineteenth and early twentieth century high grade Swiss pocket watches.
This calibre, to our knowledge, is unique in using this type of gearing for the gear train.
The dial is on two levels. The lower hour track is machined in to the case ring. This, like the movement is made from German silver.
The upper dial is machined out of a slice of sapphire crystal. There an opening at six to expose the tourbillon cage. There is an additional opening in the dial at 12 o'clock. This allows the viewer to see part of the barrel and the wolf tooth gearing.
The hour indexes are drilled into the sapphire to correspond with the hour indexes on the lower dial.
The case is a mixture of subtle shapes with strong lugs crafted out of gold or platinum.
The case has very slight oval shape. The opening for the glass is round but the bezel is slightly flared at 3 and 9 o'clock, almost imperceptibly so but enough to hold your eye and draw you in.
Similarly the lugs also flare outwards as they extend from the case. They sweep downwards to give a 'crouching animal' tension to the case.
The Crown has also a slight taper. It's quite large and has grips in the style of the Ogham alphabet (the ancient Celtic alphabet that they are using in the logo). With this design it is quite tactile and easy to use, an important detail often overlooked on manual watches.
The back has a sapphire glass back through which the engraved mainplate can be viewed. The case back is secured by screws. The bezel is secured by screws inside the case.
The case is water resistant to 3 atmospheres, although swimming with this watch is not encouraged. McGonigle are merely ensuring that the fruits of their labours are not exposed to the elements.
The presentation case is handmade combining leather and Irish Bog Oak. The Oak is 5000 year old wood preserved in Irish Bog before being reclaimed and prepared by specialist craftsmen. The case also incorporates the McGonigle name in the Ogham alphabet. This ancient Celtic alphabet was used in traditional carvings and inscriptions.
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