With Naissance d’une Montre owner's book and fitted presentation box.
In the 1980s, with the advent of the quartz watch, many watchmakers feared the disappearance of traditional watchmaking skills in the face of a world of increasingly industrialised watch and clock manufacturing. In 1985, with the goal of preserving manual and artistic watchmaking, two master watchmakers, Svend Andersen and Vincent Calabrese, formed the AHCI, an acronym for Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants, or the Horology Academy of Independent Watchmakers. Representing a new chapter in horology, these individual watchmakers combine creativity with artisanship to produce extremely limited quantities of watches, all handcrafted and requiring intensive labour and time to develop and complete. The result is always a totally unique timepiece which pushes the boundary of Haute Horologie to new heights, with ground-breaking design and mechanism.
Greater automation continues to erode the watchmaking industry to the point of near-extinction and an entire heritage of traditional watchmaking procedures and techniques was on the verge of disappearing. In 2006, multi-axis-tourbillon maestros Stephen Forsey and Robert Greubel together legendary independent watchmakers Philippe Dufour, Vainey Halter and Kari Voutilainen initiated the project of the Time æon Foundation to assist with training future watchmakers seeking to become independent. In 2007, Forsey, Greubel and Dufour decided to embark on a project, “Le Garde Temps, Naissance d'une Montre”, to teach one relatively young and talented watchmaker the skills necessary to construct a watch entirely by hand. After interviewing numerous candidates, the project was launched when they selected a Paris-based watchmaking teacher, Michel Boulanger, to participate in the program.
Resulting from six years of research and painstaking work, the collaborative teaching project has resulted in a unique handmade tourbillon “Pièce d’Ecole” (school watch/ prototype), realized in the most authentic spirit of traditional watchmaking. Christie’s Hong Kong has the honour of auctioning the amazing “Pièce d’Ecole”, the proceeds from which will contribute to the further development and progression of the “Naissance d'une Montre” project. Furthermore, as a partner of Naissance d'une Montre, Christie's is honored to donate the entire buyer's premium to the project.
‘This watch is as much about the future as it is about the past,’ explains John Reardon, International Head of Watches at Christie’s. ‘It exemplifies the beauty of traditional handmade workmanship combined with the technical know-how that has been learned from generations of watchmaking. This project is literally a time capsule saving and promoting traditional watchmaking techniques. The new owner of this watch will own a piece of living history, a testament to all the fine watchmaking of the past and of the future.’
Christie’s Hong Kong was the first auction house in Asia to promote the amazingly innovative creations of independent watchmakers in its sales in May 2009 by including two timepieces which represented the zenith in innovation and technical breakthroughs - the Urwerk 201 “Black Shark” designed by Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei and, the Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30° Vision. It is therefore befitting, ahead of its 30th anniversary, Christie’s Hong Kong shows their continuous support for the dedication of the Independent Watchmakers by offering this historically important and unique prototype in its forthcoming Spring sale on 30th May.