On this sunny day in the La Chaux-de-Fonds factory, which is half charming eighteenth-century farmhouse and half state-of-the-art technical facility, I was entirely surprised by having learned something new about one of Greubel Forsey’s production elements: screws. The subject came up in passing at lunch, sparking great passion in Forsey despite what might seem to be a miniscule topic to the uninitiated.
In the “Objects of Desire” series, I’ll be looking at pieces that fall into the latter two categories – a mix of unobtanium and timenotrightium, as my Quill & Pad colleague Joshua Munchow might say. And, where better to start on the topic of desire than with the watches of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey?
In ten years, Greubel Forsey has presented the Double Tourbillon 30°, the Opus 6 for Harry Winston, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes, Invention Piece 1 (another of my all-time favorite watches), the Quadruple Tourbillon, the GMT, the Double Balancier and lastly the Quantième Perpétuel à Équation du Temps.
This is the last in our three-part series on tourbillons from Baselworld 2014. It includes fantastic timepieces from Blancpain, Greubel Forsey, Girard-Perregaux, Hautlence and Vianney Halter I have stretched the criteria a little here: while I saw the Greubel Forsey and Vianney Halter watches during Baselworld, neither of them was actually exhibiting at the fair.
Today I don’t want to talk about one specific watch (though the Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon gets special attention). Instead I want to discuss a whole class of mechanisms that made me cross the line from watch fan to so-called “watch idiot savant” (affectionately abbreviated as WIS): the multi-axis tourbillon.
There are many categories of people who partake in the experience of watches. I like to give some of them labels like watch enthusiasts, watch collectors, watch fanboys (or girls), watch connoisseurs, watch geeks, and watch-aholics.
Each category shares aspects with the others, but they all have their own distinct variety of enthusiasm in which people focus on different avenues for their passions.
The reason I want to talk about my definitions of watch love is because I want to talk about one of the biggest horology nerd projects going on right now: Le Garde Temps, Naissance d’une montre. Translated this means “The Timepiece, the birth of a watch.”
Toys! For almost every person in the world, toys are a staple of childhood. Depending on your place of birth and socioeconomic background they may have been the newest video game, hottest action figure, or a hand carved figurine passed down from a grandparent.
Whatever they were, the toys of your childhood helped you develop your imagination, motor skills, and understanding of complex concepts only discoverable through play.
While it seems that “métiers d’art” could be considered a catchword, trend or even buzz phrase in modern high-end watchmaking, the reality is that when luxury brands take the time, energy, and cost to create these unique elements, it results in some of the most magnificent artwork available in horology today.
This year’s SIHH is full of complicated revelations. And, even more surprisingly, we have found at least five perpetual calendars at the fair, all of which are very different in approach, design and even price.
Hopefully that loud bang didn’t startle you too much! If it did, take a moment to go watch a video of a cute kitten and come back when you have calmed down a bit. Better? Ok! Here at the beginning of the new year, I am reminded there is a lot of advice out there saying you should always start with a bang.