The Greubel Forsey, which attracts attention with its watches produced with an original and innovative spirit, was awarded men’s complication of the year at the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) with its Hand Made 1 model.
“Never before has a hand-made timepiece exhibited such a high level of workmanship and precision. One single timepiece requiring an extraordinary 6,000 hours work (equal to three years man-hours), Hand Made 1 by Greubel Forsey takes traditional watchmaking to a new unprecedented summit.”
When co-founders Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey set out in 2003, they don’t want to produce fabricated watches, but rather, they wanted to combine traditional handcraft and centuries of nanoscale technical know-how. They gradually improved the hand-made part of the watches produced and reached its summit.
Hand Made 1 produced by 95% handmade level. To achieve the 95% handmade level with such a high standard of excellence required an astronomical 6,000 hours of work for one single timepiece – the equivalent of three years man-hours, where this total time only takes into account the pure watchmaking – and not the creation and development time. Thus, Hand Made 1 by Greubel Forsey takes traditional watchmaking to a new unprecedented summit.
Before the Industrial Revolution and the advent of mass production, watch components had to be made one by one requiring very specific skills, tools and completely hand-operated machines.
Co-founders Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey have amassed extensive experience of hand craftsmanship, both in prototypes or replacement parts for restoration through their careers. Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey have already demonstrated this by inventing and perfecting a completely new generation of tourbillons (Tourbillon 24 Secondes, Double Tourbillon 30°, and Quadruple Tourbillon) that have since become references in mechanical watchmaking. They have also proven their inventiveness by opening up new horizons in terms of energy and space in the field of nanotechnology.
Of course, in order to To fulfil this exceptional challenge and reach micron-scale accuracy using ancestral tools, the artisans must obtain a precision that such traditional machines themselves cannot easily offer. In this difficult process, the time spent is of secondary importance. Greubel Forsey had to build a team of the most skilled craftsmen in each field, principally from its workshops, as well as several external talents.
The same questions were asked at every stage: “How can we design this part to be able to make it using traditional tools or machines such a jig borer or lathe? And which shape can we give it so the artisans’ intelligent hands can ensure extraordinary precision and the finest craftsmanship?”
Hand Made 1 – an hours/minutes/seconds timepiece with a tourbillon. The Hand Made 1 is not a known calibre, has been entirely created from scratch. Each of the 272 movement components and 36 case parts has been individually redesigned for the movement construction. ( More than 800 separate parts had to be made and tested to obtain the 308 component.) The same questions were asked at every stage: “How can we design this part to be able to make it using traditional tools or machines such a jig borer or lathe? And which shape can we give it so the artisans’ intelligent hands can ensure extraordinary precision and the finest craftsmanship?”
The Hand Made 1because involved the people who would make and decorate each component from the very beginning. Some parts of the movement were redesigned in order to simplify them. Meanwhile for other mechanisms such as the tourbillon, the number of components had to be increased to allow each part to be made by hand. The timepiece’s relatively modest dimensions (43.5 mm in diameter and 13.5 mm thick) further heightened the difficulty of this task. Only tourbillon carriage alone consists of 69 components weighing a total of 0.521 g.
Conclusion: All movements of component is handmade (except sapphire crystal glasses, case seals, spring poles, synthetic jewelery and mainspring), from all the wheels that make up the movement, the case, leather strap, dial, and screws to hands.
Greubel Forsey‘s attention to detail naturally includes the performance of the watch. This new step towards the summit in the finest of craftsmanship is substantiated on the dial at 6 o’clock, where the inscription HAND MADE replaces the usual SWISS MADE.
- Hand Made 1 model is 95% (including the balance spring) made using only hand-operated tools.
- It takes a total of 6,000 hours of hard work to produce a single watch.
- For the original movement construction, 272 movement components and 36 case parts that make up the case have been individually redesigned.
- A single screw requires up to 12 individual operations taking up to 8 hours to make just one.
- Only tourbillon carriage alone consists of 69 components weighing a total of 0.521 g.