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Print your own triple-axis tourbillon (trust me, it’ll be cool)

ICE Graveyard 21/07/2016 John Biggs

In the world of horology there are few things fancier than the tourbillion and there are few things extra fancier than a triple-axis model. Originally invented by Abraham Louis Breguet, the tourbillion was a modification designed to ensure that a watch would keep good time in any number of positions – in a pocket, on a desk, or jostling around in a bag. It does this by spinning balance wheel, the little wheel that is essentially the heart of a mechanical watch.

Then there’s the triple-axis tourbillon, a truly rare bird. And now you can print your own in ABS or PLA plastic.

Created by maker Adam Wrigley, this tourbillon is like a tourbillion of tourbillons. It not only spins the balance wheel on one axis but it actually rotates the entire wheel in three dimensions. It’s the kind of mechanical overkill that makes a watch cost $250,000.

Now you can 3D print your own! The files are available here and consist of 99 separate parts. The tourbillon doesn’t really tell time but it does show how a real triple-axis tourbillon would work albeit in a much larger size. Think of it as a visible motor model for a massively expensive horological bauble.

Wrigley works at Frog Design and he said he based this project on a few online resources. The hardest part was creating the escapement, the toothed “fork” that releases and grabs the balance wheel as it spins back and forth.

This is a fun weekend project for someone with an horological bent and looks to be easy enough to print without supports. With 99 parts, however, I’d set aside a nice chunk of time for the complex and very rewarding assembly process.

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