Having recently completed and fully reviewed the watchmaking course of Initium on a mechanical 6497 base movement, I got a taste of what it is like to configure a custom timepiece and then build it on my own. That course costs 3,490 Swiss Francs including a fancy tool kit and a training course to guide the hobbyist — likely first-time — watchmaker through the process, while this all-new tourbillon watchmaking course is rather more costly at 14,900 Swiss Francs — reaching 18,500 Swiss Francs after the launch offer expires on October 25, 2023. Here’s all you need to know if you are ready for your first relatively affordable Swiss Made tourbillon, and not only that, but also the opportunity to construct it yourself.
Initium, founded in 2015, has gotten on a roll in more recent years as it opened its first workshop in Le Noirmont in the heart of the historic cradle of watchmaking in Switzerland, followed by a second location in Geneva’s old town. These locations allow for on-site watchmaker training courses, not for a wannabe full-time watchmaker but for the watch enthusiast, opening an opportunity for them to get to know the various tools and techniques required to assemble a watch. For those customers who prefer to go through the course in the comfort of their home, they can use an online configurator with a remarkable range of options to configure a timepiece to their taste — from various case colors through movement executions to dial, hand, and strap styles — then receive the watch of their unique configuration and use the Initium watchmaking tool kit to assemble it following the company’s online course. This latter method is the one I reviewed in the article linked in the first paragraph.
We also happen to have recently reviewed what is one of the most affordable Swiss Made tourbillons available today, the Frederique Constant Classic Manufacture Tourbillon that costs $15,695, i.e., virtually the same as this new tourbillon from Initium, albeit without a watchmaking training course included in the cost. The Initium Tourbillon features a Swiss Made case, dial, and movement, with hands and straps the company says coming from “Switzerland and others.” The tourbillon movement is designed and made by BCP Tourbillons in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a small movement maker established by Olivier Mory — find a great report on EuropaStar about the watchmaker whose career saw him at ValFleurier, Sellita, and Richard Mille.
In other words, Initium chose a high-end, one-hundred percent Swiss Made tourbillon caliber base with 105 hours of power reserve and hand-winding to configure and build your watch around. The 42mm wide steel-cased watch can be made with one of 12 different center dial designs and 8 different colors with gold or silver indices, further complicated by a claimed 4,500 possible watch case combinations. Initium offers the possibility of creating a unique design with the help of its designer for an additional 2,000 Swiss Francs. The Initium Tourbillon comes with a 3-year warranty.
The experience of assembling the movement, watch head, dial, hands, and strap will likely be a well-judged introduction to the complexities of watchmaking and the wonders of a mechanical watch movement. As is always the case with watches, there are cheaper alternatives — you can source cheap mechanical watches for virtually nothing and mess around with them, but the more basic 6497-based Initium Kairos and the new Initium Tourbillon courses are for those who want to have an experience-based connection to what will ultimately be a well-made watch that is unique to them. Initium is playing with the big boys now at just around $15,000, but it still offers one of the cheaper entirely Swiss Made tourbillon movements in what can be a completely personalized watch unique to the owner. It is the niche of the niche as an undertaking, but it is also unrivaled at the moment.
The Initium Tourbillon watchmaking course is an in-person experience in the company’s watchmaking workshops in Geneva or Le Noirmont. The price includes the personalized timepiece as well as a one-day watchmaking course with Initium’s master watchmaker who will guide you through the principles of the tourbillon and the disassembly and re-assembly of the movement, help you install the dial and hands, and case it up. The price also includes a gourmet lunch in the company of the master watchmaker. The price of the Initium Tourbillon watchmaking course is 14,900 Swiss Francs including taxes until October 25, 2023, then it is 18,500 Swiss Francs. You can learn more at the brand’s website.