Swiss engineer Cristoph Laimer used a 3D printer to reproduce the mechanism of a Tourbillon watchon a considerably larger scale. In the video, he shows the whole process of fitting more than 60 parts in this intricate device and it’s absolutely mesmerizing.
Almost all the parts were printed in a Ultimaker 2, with the exception of the screws and pins. To develop the pieces, Laimer used the the Autodesk Fusion 360 software and provided the project for free onThingiverse for anyone who would like to try to make their own watch at home. He explains,
“This is a mechanical watch with tourbillon and going barrel. The watch has a Swiss lever escapement, embedded in the tourbillon. It is driven by a 3d-printed spring, and runs 35 Minutes (a wire retraction spring made from steel would perform better).”
It is necessary to wind the device, and at this stage it is able to run continuously for 35 minutes, with less than 0.5 seconds deviation within one minute. Although this may seem like a lot, it’s a very smallmargin of error if we consider that the pieces were all printed on plastic.
The Tourbillon was created in 1795 and patented by French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet to counter the effects of gravity. It does so by mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage. By continuously rotating the entire balance wheel/escapement assembly at a slow rate (typically about one revolution per minute), positional errors are averaged out.