One of the most lauded and discussed of contemporary artisan timepieces, the original prototype ‘Garde Temps - Naissance d'une Montre’ was described in 2016: ‘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 journey to the realization of this remarkable watch series began in 2006, when multi-axis-tourbillon maestros Stephen Forsey and Robert Greubel together with 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.
The culmination of six years of research and painstaking work, this collaborative teaching project resulted in a unique handmade tourbillon “Pièce d’Ecole” (school watch prototype) which was sold by Christie’s Hong Kong on 30th May 2016 for US$1.46 million. The proceeds of the sale of the amazing ‘Pièce d’Ecole’ contributed to the further development and progression of the “Naissance d'une Montre” project and the launch of a limited edition of 11 pieces, of which the present watch is numbered 6.
‘To own a Naissance d'une Montre Tourbillon is to possess a piece of living history, a testament to all the fine watchmaking of the past and of the future’.
Patented by Abraham Louis Breguet in 1801, the tourbillon is a device created to compensate the effects of gravity on the movement. This is achieved by averaging out the variations of rates for a calibre in different positions by rotating the entire escapement, balance, spring, lever and escape wheel, through 360 degrees over a fixed period of time.
Are fabled for their exceptional and avant-garde horology, combining highly complicated mechanical functions with uncompromisingly provocative styling concepts.
Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey have become legends in the world of modern independent watchmaking. Working together since 1992, when they were developing complicated movements for Renaud & Papi, Greubel and Forsey decided to branch out on their own in 1999, setting up as the independents, CompliTime Greubel, la Neuveville and Bureau d’Etude et Prototype, le Locle, respectively. From this moment forward, they are focused on designing a new generation of tourbillons specifically developed to improve the timekeeping of the mechanical watch.
Truly one of the greatest watchmakers of all time, Philippe Dufour is referred to as a ‘living legend’ by his peers in the industry and his watches have been called ‘masterpieces’ by the French magazine Le Point. Born in 1948 in La Sentier in the heart of the Swiss watchmaking hub of the Vallée de Joux to a family of watchmakers, Dufour learns the basis of his craft at the École Technique before going on to work for such titans of the industry as Jaeger-LeCoultre, Gerald Genta and Audemars Piguet. The appeal of a Philippe Dufour watch is about one man’s lifetime quest for perfection and beauty through the preservation of the traditional Swiss watchmaking techniques, embodying all of his own personal values of dedication, hard work, honesty and passion. He began to produce watches under his own name from 1989, his success since is not only due to a mere mastery of technique honed over a lifetime dedicated to the craft, it is Philippe Dufour’s sheer commitment to perfection and his desire to leave a small part of himself in each of his creations that differentiate his watches from those of other watchmakers.
A French watchmaking teacher at the Diederot vocational training college in Paris. Michel Boulanger was the master watchmaker pupil chosen to undertake to build the ‘Naissance d'une Montre’ watch from scratch using only hand operated tools, under the guidance of Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey and Philippe Dufour. The project started in 2009, and was officially launched at SIHH in 2012. Michel traveled to La Chaux de Fonds every month to build up his knowledge from his three mentors and other specialists practicing in the workshops. The prototype watch was completed and was shown in the Greubel Forsey booth in SIHH 2015.