When you see on a watch dial with the names 'Greubel Forsey' and 'Philippe Dufour' together, you know it has to be something really big and special. The Le Garde Temps Naissance d'une Montre project lead by Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey and Philippe Dufour is one of the most fascinating horological projects in the world. In 2007, Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey and Philippe Dufour —all members of the Foundation Time Aon—, in order to preserve the traditional and historical techniques and know-how of watchmaking, they decided to launch the project Le Garde Temps Naissance d'une Montre —The Timepiece: Birth of a Watch— to work together and pass down their horological knowledge and know-how to younger generations via a special chosen apprentice.
This apprentice by the name of Michel Boulanger —professor of watchmaking at the Technical College Diderot in Paris and a graduate of the WOSTEP program in Switzerland— would practice the horological techniques learned from them by creating a timepiece only by hand and with the use of old machines utilized in watchmaking. As part of this amazing initiative, Michel Boulanger would pass down this acquired knowledge to future generations and thus preserve the excellence of traditional watchmaking.
Officially started in 2011 and presented at the SIHH 2014 in Geneva as a concept, the Le Garde Temps Naissance d'une Montre is a timepiece fully made by hand following traditional and historical watchmaking techniques. The first prototype of this exceptional timepiece sold for $1.461 Million USD at the Christie’s Important Watches auction in Hong Kong. Thanks to the regular round trips between Switzerland and Michel Boulanger's workshop southwest of Paris, and working within the framework of a six year project, Boulanger embarked upon the creation of an exceptional timepiece.
With all parts entirely made by hand by Michel Boulanger with the continuous advice of master watchmakers Philippe Dufour, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, this exceptional timepiece is one that needs to be seen in the metal to be fully appreciated.
The Case, Dial & Strap
Fitted with a robust case in 18K white gold measuring 45 mm in diameter, the watch is delivered on a beautiful honey raw calfskin strap with beige contrast stitching and matching 18K white gold pin buckle with the limited edition numbers engraved on it. The case with a tripartite construction features a satin brushed middle case with mirror polished bezel and lugs. As far as the dial goes, its multilayered construction is simply out of this world and a treat for the eyes.
Michel Boulanger's mission was to learn from Philippe Dufour as much as necessary up until 2014 and without the use of computer controlled machines create a timepiece featuring a manual wound tourbillon movement with three hands and of which only 11 examples would be made in addition to the prototype timepiece. While the Naissance d'une Montre timepieces come with a steep price tag, the level of work and watch you're getting is definitely worth the price. The manual wound movement features Michel Boulanger's signature on the mainplate and is finished following the same standards observed by Greubel Forsey and Philippe Dufour.
On the Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the Naissance d'une Montre wears slightly bigger than its actual size and more like a 47 mm watch; however, when it comes to its wrist presence, it is simply out of this world. Having a timepiece on your wrist that was truly fully handmade is something very special and a huge honor. Big kudos to Greubel Forsey and Philippe Dufour for this noble cause and for conducting this outstanding initiative for the love of horology.