Earlier this morning, Greubel Forsey flexed its horological muscles with an official SIHH 2018 teaser that offers a whole new take on the traditional foudroyante jumping seconds complication.
If you’re not sure what a foudroyante jumping second hand is, you’re not alone. It’s a rare complication that doesn’t show up too often, but when it does, it’s a showstopper. (Check out the A. Lange & Söhne Grand Complication and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre Quantième Lunaire 42.) It is typically found on a separate subdial where you can witness the seconds hand rapidly progressing in fraction-of-a-second jumps. In person, it creates a dizzying display of movement that is reflective of the chaotic mechanism inside the timepiece. With its complexity comes a surprising amount of girth that keeps most watchmakers from including it in their high-complication timepieces. But Greubel Forsey seems to have found in a solution in the Nano Foudroyante EWT. In fact, the patent filed by the brand states that the timepiece features a reduction in the amount of energy consumed by a factor of 1,800, and uses 96 percent less space compared to a conventional foudroyante mechanism.
How was this possible? Well, studying nano-energy over the past decade allowed founders Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey to completely rethink the tried-and-true approach of constructing a foudroyante jumping seconds. In this watch, an axis communicates directly with the escape wheel, meaning that a full gear train is no longer necessary to ensure the sub-division of seconds since the information is obtained directly from the escape wheel. So each time the escape wheel moves, the miniature seconds hand jumps forward in 1/8 second intervals.
Unlike traditional foudroyante jumping seconds hands, the one found on the EWT embraces the nano in its name and is only visible through 23-fold magnification. This timepiece serves as validation for the brand’s pursuit of the ultimate nano-energy application, a 180-hour power reserve. With this announcement, Greubel Forsey also teased the Nano Foudroyante à Affichage which its researchers, engineers, and scientists are currently hard at work on. This next step will bring the technology onto a standard-size subdial so it’s visible to everyone without the need for a magnifying glass.
It isn’t clear yet what other benefits Greubel Forsey’s research into nano-energy will have for horology as a whole, but we’re anxious to find out more during SIHH next month.