Over its decade-plus in existence, Greubel Forsey has produced some highly complicated watches, nearly all of which have featured at least one tourbillon. For its new Signature 1 timepiece, introduced in January at SIHH 2016, the haute horlogerie brand founded by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey takes a different route.
The Greubel Forsey Signature 1 is the first in the new Signature collection, which will feature the works of a single watchmaker, applying his or her own creative vision to a watch that still maintains all of the distinctive horological DNA of Greubel Forsey. The watchmakers — in this case, one Didier J.G. Cretin, a longtime member of the brand’s watchmaking team — will draw on all of the technical resources and expertise of Greubel Forsey’s ultra-modern watchmaking atelier in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, to execute these original concepts, remaining true to the philosophy and standards of the brand while also enjoying a considerable amount of creative freedom. The philosophy behind the Signature series springs from the “Naissance d’une Montre” (Birth of a Watch) project, an initiative to preserve the knowledge and practice of traditional watchmaking practices that are in danger of being lost to industrialization, which Greubel Forsey helped launch in 2012 along with partners such as master watchmaker Philippe Dufour.
The new watch — which features Cretin’s own signature on the dial, along with the names of the brand founders — is the first Greubel Forsey watch with a manual-wound movement and the first to feature no complications other than hours, minutes, and seconds, displayed on two subdials, . And while the Signature 1 offers no inclined tourbillons (as in the Geneva Grand Prix winning Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision, among many others), miniature sculptures inside the movement (the Art Piece 1), or mechanical computers (the QP à Equation, last year’s SIHH headliner), it is no less sophisticated in both its technical and aesthetic aspects. It features an exclusively designed Greubel Forsey balance wheel, on display in the lower left quadrant of the partially openworked dial, providing symmetry with the hours-and-minutes subdial in the upper right. The dial itself is made of white silvered gold and features blued hands that have been finished and countersunk by hand.
The case measures 41.4 mm in diameter and 11.7 mm thick and has a polished and straight grained bezel and caseband. It is water-resistant to 30 meters and has convex sapphire crystals in the front and back. The in-house movement is composed of 190 parts (including 61 escapement components and 21 jewels in gold chatons) and carries a power reserve of 54 hours when fully wound. Among its many high-watchmaking attributes are a balance spring with Phillips terminal curve; polished inclined facets and black PVD treatment on the mainplate; côtes de Genève on the nickel silver bridges and circular graining on the barrel bridge; and a flat black-polished steel balance-wheel bridge. The watch comes on a hand-stitched alligator strap with a pin buckle bearing a hand-engraved Greubel Forsey logo.
The Greubel Forsey Signature 1 will be available in a strictly limited edition of 33 pieces, which break down as follows: 11 pieces in white gold, 11 pieces in rose gold (both priced at $185,ooo) and 11 pieces in stainless steel (another first for the Greubel Forsey brand) with a blue dial, priced at $170,000 and available exclusively in the United States. All 33 pieces are expected to be available in Summer 2016. Shortly afterward, the brand plans to release 11 pieces in platinum and an additional 22 pieces of the steel version (with a different colored dial) to the rest of the world. Below you’ll find a few photos of the Signature 1 taken at SIHH.