Watchmaker-craftsmen
The realm of watchmaking encompasses brands and their partners, as well as the watchmaker- craftsmen who produce rare creations (or modify existing ones on request). These artisans work in a sphere virtually beyond time, and their craft is reserved for a few fortunate connoisseurs.

At present: Greubel Forsey
nav

Other watchmaker-craftsmen :
Kurt Schaffo

Kari Voutilainen
Philippe Dufour
Vianney Halter


Technology -Main page
Contents
Greubel Forsey




 








 

The atelier
Greubel Forsey is situated in La Chaux-de-Fonds at the "Ancien Manège", a building of historical significance and a classified monument in this watchmaking region. Built in 1855, the "Ancien Manège" was initially meant to be used for horsemanship. This initial project fell through and the space was adapted for public gatherings. In 1868, the building was transformed into apartments. In the 1970's the construction gradually became neglected and the years that followed were menacing for the survival of the building on the site. In reaction to this situation several associations were created to save the historical site from disappearing. It was finally saved by the Société Cooperative de l'Ancien Manège. It took two years to completely renovate the building and in 1994 it had finally regained its former glory. Today, the building may seem somewhat austere from the outside, but the interior courtyard can be admired for its original architecture and the magnificent frescos painted in the early 20th century. Today the "Ancien Manège" harmoniously associates history and modernity, a perfect setting for Greubel Forsey, where traditional watchmaking and contemporary spirit work side by side.

A decisive invention
When Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey decided to develop a high performance version of the famous Tourbillon regulator, they wished not only to pay homage to its inventor, Abraham Louis Breguet, but also to surpass existing accomplishments and to make a decisive contribution in the development of this precious mechanism.
Indeed, the regulator and the escapement had always been the weak points of the watch movement. For more than three centuries, experts from all disciplines, from mathematics to mechanics, from metallurgy to physics, strived to improve the functioning of the movement in these areas.
Once their constructions were perfected, after imagining a multitude of different concepts, these men then sought to control the exterior influences affecting the mechanism: temperature, barometric pressure, gravity and magnetic fields. With regards to multi-axis Tourbillon's more specifically, Greubel Forsey's attention was caught by fundamental research carried out by watchmakers Anthony Randall and later Richard Good.
In both cases, their mechanisms were incorporated into carriage clocks with Tourbillon cages linked by 90 degree angles.
In order to respond to the very specific requirements for a wristwatch, Greubel Forsey introduced a construction as yet unseen in watchmaking: a Double Tourbillon where the second carriage is inclined at 30° and is placed inside the first carriage. This construction constitutes a significant step forward when compared to other possible solutions:
- Superior performance of the system in extreme wristwatch positions.
- Reduced volume of the timepiece while achieving an optimal size of the system.
- Maximum visual access of the functioning mechanism.
This configuration has enabled the construction of a spectacular movement: the Double Tourbillon 30° can be observed in its entirety. Furthermore, its dimensions have enabled it to be presented as a comfortably-sized wristwatch.
The Greubel Forsey invention appreciably improves the time-keeping performance. This is shown by the graph which compares the running time results in the different wristwatch positions simulated on the Double Tourbillon 30° by using first the Greubel Forsey balance wheel in a fixed position (without Tourbillon), followed by one simple functioning cage (classical Tourbillon) and finally by the Double Tourbillon 30°. The best performance is represented by a series of values nearing a linear representation.

Greubel Forsey
Double Tourbillon 30° watch

Classical Tourbillon

Watch without Tourbillon

Comparison of time-keeping performance improvements with the Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30° system.

Ultimate technical perfection: The Double Tourbillon 30°
It is without doubt that the first of Greubel Forsey's realisations is very technical in nature. Its architecture is entirely and dispassionately dedicated to their invention. However, the beauty of their art is also communicated by the exquisite level of execution. The diversity of the finishing techniques of each element in the Double Tourbillon 30° enhances the technical character of the timepiece without distracting the eye.
In order to convey the mechanical complexity of their invention, Greubel Forsey sought to create elements which are refined and discrete so as to draw the attention towards the distinction of the mechanism, allowing us to discover secrets of the Double Tourbillon 30° which have never before been seen in watchmaking history.
So that all may appreciate the richness and diversity of Greubel Forsey's extreme art of watchmaking, the set of didactic images which follows reveals to the connoisseur what lies behind the subtlety and discretion of this unique timepiece.
For instance, for a single Greubel Forsey Tourbillon bridge, some 480 minutes are needed for the many processes that require the utmost manual dexterity such as: deburring, hand filing and cleaning of corners and angles, hand- finished and polished bevels, hand-finished and polished conical barrelled sections, hand finished straight grained flanks, straight graining by hand to the underside, polished bevels for the screw countersinks and hand executed flat black polish to the upper side. This single example represents the efforts dedicated to only one of the 301 elements that make up the Double Tourbillon 30°. Every component is the object of patient work to attain the ultimate technical and esthetical perfection.
Greubel Forsey's Double Tourbillon 30° is unique since no timepiece of this sort has existed before. Its rarity bears witness to the desire for absolute quality and the harmony of work perceived as art.

Double Tourbillon 30°
White gold case, black gold dial

Mechanical Sophistication
The aerial ballet of the Double Tourbillon

The 128 components of the double Tourbillon weigh a mere 1.17 grams

The finely worked 4-minute exterior Tourbillon

Free-sprung balance, 21'600 alt/h

The 1-minute interior Tourbillon carriage inclined at 30°

Gold counterweight necessary to balance the 4-minute exterior Tourbillon

Counterweight of the 1-minute interior Tourbillon

Diamond-turned white gold mean-time screws














     

Technology - Main page
Contents