The image of the little Swiss watchmaker in his workshop in the Alps is a lovely one; it’s also, most of the time, not quite what you get. Most watchmakers big and small rely on a more industrial approach to making parts, with production lines and huge machines pumping out components. Greubel Forsey however are taking watchmaking back to its roots with the aptly-named Hand Made 1.
Any new release from Messrs Greubel and Forsey is worth sitting up and paying attention to, but this is arguably their most ambitious project to date. 95% of the Hand Made 1 is created using hand tools, including the impossibly delicate hairspring. The result is a watch that takes 6,000 hours of work to produce. Unnecessary? Possibly. Extraordinary? Without a doubt.
Of course, none of that would matter if the end result wasn’t worth the effort. Hell, in order to live up to the concept the watch itself needs to be stunning. Well, it is.
With a case size of 43.5mm wide and 13mm thick, the Hand Made 1 is relatively modest for a Greubel Forsey, with a combined 32 components. That’s nothing compared to the movement, with 272 separate parts. The result is the brilliantly layered, structural feel that has come to define Greubel Forsey.
Naturally, there’s a tourbillon at 7 o’clock but other than that this is a time-only watch, with central hours and minutes and a small seconds just off-centre at 5 o’clock complete with an enamel dial. Aside from the grained, champagne-coloured bridges, the dial is open for an intensely technical look. The Hand Made 1 may be relatively pared back in functions (again, for a Greubel Forsey) but a world away in execution.
It’s an impressive watch by any stretch, but all the more so when you think about the hand-made lengths gone to in order to create it. A new calibre was designed from scratch, one that could be built on manual machines and only the crystals and the gaskets, the spring bars, jewels and mainspring are exceptions. That is unheard of.
The Hand Made 1 won’t lead to a new era in watchmaking, obviously. It’s an extremely puritan take on watchmaking. It does however add a new string to Greubel Forsey’s already-packed bow and is a phenomenal illustration of what hand made really means.
Price & Specs:
Model Name: Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1
Case/Dial: 43.5mm diameter x 13.5mm thickness, 18k white gold
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, tourbillon at 7 o’clock
Strap: Brown leather
More details at greubelforsey.com