Greubel Forsey unveils Nano concept watch at SIHH 2018
Innovative brand is pushing the boundaries of what is mechanically possible with modern technologies and research
The brand co-founded by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey in 2004 is on a roll – 2017 was “a very good year” for the maison, according to Forsey. Greubel Forsey completed 111 timepieces, while also presenting its milestone Grande Sonnerie after 11 years of R&D. That is the kind of company this is: roughly 100 employees make about 100 timepieces per year. Each piece features at least one of the company’s seven major inventions, and each is painstakingly finished by at least 450 hours of handwork. This company really is pushing the boundaries of what is humanly possible when it comes to mechanical timekeeping, accuracy and decoration.
The 2018 SIHH was “an important meeting point where we [could] share creations with worldwide media and collectors”, says Forsey. Apart from receiving plenty of horological high-fives from collectors and press for pieces like the 265,000-Swiss-franc (HK$2.2 million) Differentiel d’Egalité, which features a 30-degree inclined balance wheel, Greubel Forsey also initiated partnerships in several emerging markets.
One of the most exciting bits of news in 2018 is the brand’s unveiling of the first Nano Foudroyante EWT, another chapter in its Mechanical Nano project. This project is all about saving energy and space through completely rethinking movements.
If you compare the presented timepiece with a traditional foudroyante jumping seconds mechanism, the invention patented by Greubel Forsey consumes 1,800 times less energy and occupies 96 per cent less space – which allows for a 180-day power reserve.
“Mechanical Nano will help us to revolutionise mechanical horology,” Forsey says. “In overcoming the traditional barriers of energy and space in a mechanical watch, we have already validated the fundamentals for the first project, which will see the light of day within the next two years. As this is a totally new domain, we are still exploring and discovering the full potential.”
Alongside breaking new ground, Greubel Forsey is passionate about the transmission of knowledge. “Since the very beginning, Robert and I knew the knowledge we had acquired over the years was not ours to keep but part of a wider cultural heritage that needed to be passed down
to future generations,” Forsey says. To resurrect disappearing ancestral watchmaking techniques replaced by automation, they have formed the Time Æon Foundation with other independent watchmakers, such as Philippe Dufour and Vianney Halter. The foundation represents the missing link between the past and future of fine watchmaking, and its mission statement can be seen in the foundation’s first major project, Naissance d’une Montre, where a watchmaking teacher was taught to make a tourbillon from scratch using ancestral methods – which he in turn will be able to share with his students.
“We’ve since been able to further pursue our mission to preserve, safeguard and transmit traditional watchmaking knowledge and skills with a number of new partners and projects,” Forsey says.
One of Greubel Forsey’s “historic” partners is Hong Kong retailer Elegant Watch & Jewellery, which has carried the exquisite timepieces since 2004.
“Through Elegant we can serve local collectors and those from the region and attend to the needs of connoisseurs with a long-standing passion for the finest in watchmaking,” the brand says. “Since mainland China is geographically so large, we focus on providing very personal experiences of Greubel Forsey timepieces by going there a few times year to meet our collectors.”
There are many interesting pieces in the pipeline, and in a couple of years the first inventions from the Mechanical Nano project will be commercially available – to create good things takes time. “As we are creation driven, each new timepiece or creation is free from marketing constraints, each piece reflects our spirit and vision,” Forsey says.