a tourbillon (French: "whirlwind") is an addition to the mechanics of a watch escapement. Developed around 1795 and patented by the French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet on June 26, 1801, it aims to counter the effects of gravity by mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage, to negate the effect of gravity when the timepiece (thus the escapement) is stuck in a certain position.
photo credit: ablogtowatch.com
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