— On collecting the award for the Replica Watches Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision, Stephen Forsey stressed the need to preserve traditional watchmaking for future generations. Greubel Forsey’s “Naissance d’une montre” project is making great headway on this front.
For Stephen Forsey, success at the very top of the fine watchmaking pile for the past ten years is welcome, but handing down the skills and expertise of traditional watchmaking is just as important. He used his thank-you speech at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, where he collected the top Aiguille d’Or prize for the Cheap Fake Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision, to urge others to follow his initiative in this respect.
The initiative in question is the “Naissance d’une montre” project, which was first conceived in 2007. “We have been putting a lot of energy into this project with Time Aeon foundation and we now have the first working piece that Michel Boulanger has built from scratch using only traditional tools and methods,” Stephen Forsey explained to WorldTempus. “It is one of only very few pieces in modern times that have been made this way and many people would not go that far, so it is a magical piece.” He adds: “It is always a challenge because if you just see a photo of one of our timepieces and some numbers it doesn’t really reflect the true value of the piece. You have to go deeper into the subject to see what we are trying to do. We go beyond the expectations of even the most demanding collectors, but it’s a challenge to get that message across.”
This “school watch” is the first tangible item to emerge from the project and will help the initiators better to promote their cause. It will be auctioned at the Christie’s sale in May 2016 in Hong Kong and the proceeds will go to the Time Aeon foundation. This will allow for an additional, strictly limited, series along the same lines. “These will be available by subscription to collectors,” says Stephen Forsey. “Here, too, all the profit will be ploughed back into the foundation and we are hoping this way that we can obtain funds that will allow us to transmit this know-how. At the moment we have Michel who is the guardian of the temple, but this is very fragile because it is only one person. We need to build a nucleus of people with these skills and expertise and we need to draw attention to that and see what support we can get from the watch community.”
The next major phase of the project will thus be one of communication. “What we have seen at Replica Greubel Forsey Watches with the help of Philippe Dufour on the ground in Singapore and Hong Kong in September, is that the whole community is concerned and willing to support the project,” says Stephen Forsey. “We are also pleased to have the support of auctioneers Christie’s, who dedicated a whole wall and showcase for us at the preview to their sale in Dubai. We are hoping to find one regional partner in all the key regions and we have some retailers who are going to support the project, such as Elegant Watch in Hong Kong and Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons in the UAE.”
The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie in Switzerland is also a partner in the project and has granted it a separate, dedicated exhibition space at the SIHH 2016. It will be accessible from the new “Carré des Horlogers” housing the smaller independent brands and still be managed by Greubel Forsey. Philippe Dufour (the teacher), Michel Boulanger (the teacher turned apprentice) and Séverine Vitali (a hand-finishing specialist from Greubel Forsey) will all be on hand to explain the project during the exhibition. This marks an important turning point for the project, as Stephen Forsey concludes: “The idea is to give the project its own feet, because we have housed it in the Best Replica Greubel Forsey Watches stand up until now. It is, after all, a community project. Robert and myself have financed the project because we felt it was so important.”
“The birth of a watch – timeline”
2007 – Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey and Philippe Dufour reach the alarming conclusion that an entire heritage of ancestral watchmaking techniques was on the verge of disappearing.
2009 – “Le Garde Temps – Naissance d’une Montre” was started
2012 – The project is officially presented at the SIHH
2015 – The first finished watch is presented