At Greubel Forsey, “everything revolves around the hand, at each creative stage. Passed from hand to hand, from a manually operated machine to a polishing tool, each component is ‘elevated’ as the hand progressively enhances its inherent characteristics.“
The Swiss watchmaker was founded by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey in 2004. The two play perfectly complementary roles as Robert focuses on design and creation, while Stephen excels in the more technical areas.
“When we came together, we were both driven by the same passion and by the conviction that “manufacturing” watches was certainly not an end in itself. In founding our own company, we didn’t want to create ‘just another watchmaking firm’. By striking out on our own, we were giving ourselves the freedom needed to explore other territories, beyond the realms of possibility. We wanted to discover brand-new mechanisms. We wanted to create the timepieces of our dreams,” says Robert Greubel.
Born in Alsace, France, Robert Greubel would spend long hours as a child with his father, a watchmaker, and go on to join the family business. In 1987, he joined IWC to work on their Grand Complication project. He then moved to Le Locle in 1990 for a prototypist’s position at Renaud & Papi, where he rose up the ranks to become the Co-Chief Operating Officer and partner.
Stephen Forsey was born in St. Albans, England, where he inherited his father’s fascination with the intricacies of timepiece mechanics. From 1987, he specialised in antique watch restoration, and he subsequently became the head of Asprey of London’s prestigious watch restoration department. Then, to further his horological education, he enrolled at Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program (WOSTEP).
“I met Robert for the first time in 1992 when I joined his team at Renaud & Papi. I had been hired to work as a watchmaker and project manager dealing with the most complicated mechanical movements. Even then, Robert demonstrated unbridled passion and great creativity. We realised that we shared the same spirit and the same vision of the future of fine watchmaking,” says Stephen Forsey.
In 2001, the two first co-founded CompliTime, with the aim of creating and developing complication mechanisms for the key brands. Then in 2004, they launched Greubel Forsey and introduced to the world their first timepiece that same year. Since then the maison has introduced seven fundamental inventions and 22 calibres. They now have a team of around 100 people which includes more than 20 artisans.
In the 14 years since its founding, Greubel Forsey has manufactured just 1,332 timepieces; that is an average of fewer than one hundred timepieces per year. This low number is not because of a lack of demand, but rather due to the quality of their workmanship and attention to detail they give to each timepiece.
“To understand the philosophy behind Greubel Forsey timepiece, it is imperative to have first glimpsed the beauty of the tiny components that become invisible once the movement is assembled, to have observed the care with which they have been crafted, polished and enhanced.” – Greubel Forsey
“The symbiosis of highly technical and artistic elements is a cornerstone of Greubel Forsey, and all of our creations inevitably arise from this hybridisation. To date, six of our seven inventions have found concrete applications: the Double Tourbillon 30°, the Quadruple Tourbillon, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes, the Double Balancier, the Mechanical Computer and the Différentiel d’Égalité. Our daily mantra is to preserve our creative spirit, to continue to surprise, and to aim for excellence“, says the brand. These inventions have been honoured with several awards. They also form the basis of two of Greubel Forsey’s newest releases.
The Double Balancier was first introduced as a prototype at Baselworld in 2009 and was Greubel Forsey’s 6th Fundamental Invention. At the SIHH 2018, Greubel Forsey presented the latest evolution of the Double Balancier in 5N red gold. The two inclined regulating organs, originally positioned on top of each other, now occupy separate spaces. This new configuration delivers enhanced chronometric performance while the Constant Spherical Differential cuts the timing variations in half. The black gold dial in oven-fired enamel “functions like a curtain rising” to reveal the two balance wheels connected by the constant differential. On the dial are the 5N red gold hands, minute-circle, numerals, hour markers and power reserve. A rotation indicator fitted to the differential executes one complete turn in 4 minutes.
Différentiel d’Égalité was first unveiled at Baselworld 2008 as Greubel Forsey’s fifth fundamental invention. It was further enhanced to provide a steady distribution of power from the mainspring barrel to the regulating organ, which maintains a constant balance amplitude during the 60 hours of the power reserve. The timepiece also integrates, for the first time, Greubel Forsey’s dead-beat second mechanism. On the dial side, it has a high-domed sapphire crystal while the movement side shows the ‘stop/reset’ mechanism and the engraved inscriptions which encapsulate the key values of the brand. This new white gold edition of Différentiel d’Égalité is limited to just 33 pieces.