Three renowned watch creators, united by a common goal of recording and preserving for posterity traditional watchmaking techniques; a young watchmaking teacher entrusted with the role of learning such techniques ; and a true handmade timepiece realised in the most authentic spirit of traditional watchmaking. These are the actors and resources of the «Le Garde Temps – Naissance d’une Montre» project.
In 2007, Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey and Philippe Dufour reached an alarming conclusion: due to increasing mechanisation and a massive recourse to automation in the world of watchmaking, an entire heritage of ancestral procedures and techniques was on the verge of disappearing. They therefore decided to select a pupil and then transmit their expertise to him. This chosen pupil should put the techniques learned into practice by creating a timepiece by hand using traditional tools, before transmitting these skills to future generations.
They chose Michel Boulanger, a French watchmaking teacher at the Diderot vocational training college in Paris. The «Le Garde Temps – Naissance d’une Montre» project that started in 2009, was officially launched at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in 2012 in Geneva. Every month Michel travelled to La Chauxde- Fonds to build up a store of knowledge from Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey, Philippe Dufour and from various other specialists practising at the Greubel Forsey Atelier.
Working within the framework of a six-year project, Boulanger embarked upon the creation of an exceptional timepiece. This was to be a circular wristwatch, of extremely pure design, driven by a manually wound movement with three-hands time display and equipped with a tourbillon mechanism following in the great tradition of 19th century watchmakers. So as to showcase the tourbillon mechanism, the structure of this timepiece features an off-centre dial displaying the hours and minutes. The different finishes applied to each component are of vital importance.
Today, the project “Le Garde Temps – Naissance d’une Montre” has finally reached the crucial phase of completing the first fully working, cased-up piece. Greubel Forsey is offering for sale the first of this timepieces - conceived to initiate a series of eleven pieces - with an anticipated delivery date of late 2016.
The final phase of this project will be to use the funds from the sale of this handful of timepieces to sponsor the future of the project with the ultimate aim, “transmission of watchmaking heritage”.