Archive for the ‘Interview’ category

Forsey on his inventions

September 30, 2011

It’s rare that you come across someone wearing watches worth Rs 4 crores. No, they’re not endowed with precious stones, but are exclusively handcrafted, hand-finished, limited number of pieces with several patented mechanisms. When we met up with Stephen Forsey of Greubel Forsey, the Swiss watchmaker extraordinaire, for a chat following the Watch World Awards 2011, held at Greater Noida-based Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort, it was one such unique occasion.

Stephen Forsey

Recipient of the maiden individual Award for fine watch making as well as for the Limited Edition category, Forsey posed for the camera with a Double Tourbillon 30° and Invention Piece 2, both sitting snugly on his wrists.

Greubel Forsey, the Swiss watch making company which brought the skills and expertise of two exceptionally talented individuals to the world of horology in 2004, specialises in designing and manufacturing high-end watches based on the tourbillon mechanism, with only a few tens of units manufactured every year, which are expensively priced. Their latest, Invention Piece 2, features two double tourbillon 30°, making it a quadruple tourbillon.  Each double has one outer tourbillon that rotates at 1 cycle per four minutes, and one inner tourbillon, inclined at a 30° angle, that rotates once per minute. Available both in gold and titanium, it has 11 pieces each.

Double Tourbillon 30 degree

Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey met in the early 1990s at Renaud & Papi, and worked together for many years before launching their eponymous brand. And since then, the duo has not looked back, surprising the world with their eagerly awaited horological marvels which take years to develop and are lapped up by connoisseurs worldwide. In 2006 the Richmont Group bought 20 per cent stake in Greubel Forsey. Forsey speaks at length on the company’s inventions and what watch collectors can look forward to in an interview with Hiren Kumar Bose, Editor, Watch World 

On being the first recipient of an individual Watch World Award for special contribution to fine watch making

It’s very exciting for Greubel Forsey to be in India and to get this prestigious award from the biggest specialist magazine. The award is recognition of our timepieces and people at Greubel Forsey who put in months and years of hard work to make these watches. Awards like these help promote the best in watch making and creates awareness about the latest developments in the field. I’m very delighted to have received the award. Greubel Forsey is difficult to describe: for we are a very small company and can make only 100 timepieces in a year.

On bringing T back into tourbillon

When we go to bed we keep our wrist watches on the side table when it is at rest for nearly 12 years. This affects the performance of the watch. Our watches challenge the tourbillon possibilities and are an attempt to make them more precise. For instance, the Double Tourbillon 30° (DT30°) we presented in 2004 features one carriage which rotates once per minute and is inclined at 30°, inside another carriage which rotates every four minutes. The double tourbillon averages out errors on the balance induced by gravity. Or the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Incliné (T24Si), presented in 2006, the tourbillon cage in this watch has a higher angular velocity, resulting in rapidly changing positions. It’s a challenge to put so many tourbillons and still keep the watch reasonably-sized and aesthetically pleasing.

On creating excitement with every creation

(Laughs).Both me and Robert Greubel have put in 25 years into watchmaking. Thanks to the Internet, independent watchmakers like us have been provided with a platform which is open 24/7and lets us interact with buyers and collectors worldwide. Interestingly, people who buy our watches are those who are very much into watches. They discover the intricacies of the watch each day.

Invention Piece 3

On why a Greubel Forsey watch takes years to become a reality

It takes several years to bring an idea through concept and prototype to a finished timepiece. There is a lot of investment that goes into each new mechanism. As these are not available off the shelf, they have to be designed. 98 per cent of our components in the movements, literally hundreds of parts, have to be designed in-house. Our timepieces have between 280 to 690 components in a movement. For instance our very first invention the Double Tourbillon 30°, the two caged, angled cage 30 degrees inside a second cage system took us four and a half years to go through the whole prototype stage to really refining the system. With a mechanical watch you need to have the time to test it, because a watch that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and means that you cannot accelerate the tool process. You just have to wait and be patient. Lastly, every watch needs to be hand-finished, which represents many hundreds of hours of work for each movement.

Published in Mint, Sept30, 2011

“Metamorphosis influenced by The Trasformers’

April 24, 2010

Briefly: Watchmakers Johnny Girardin and Franck Orny are the duo behind Mont Blanc’s Metamorphosis, the first watch that functions independent one from the other, operating individually which may appear by choice one after the other on the same position.  Girardin (35) is a movement constructor and engineer who specializes in watches while Franck Orny (41) is  a construction-engineer specializing in horological fabrication and has attracted attention  for his unusual and elegant horological complications. Both work with Telos. Orny replied to an email interview with Watchalive!

Its’ said the idea to make Metamorphosis came from the movie Transformers where robotic figures morph from humanoid shapes into cars etc. Please elaborate.

We were on a family holiday in 2008 (skiing) and it is when we saw children watching or playing transformers that the idea was born. Why not make a watch that is one and then turns into another! And that the holder can choose according to his schedule, his feeling or usefulness. It changes the relationship between the object and the one who wears it, and is a completely new path in watch making.

girardin and orny

With 567 individual components in a 4.3 mm-slim sub-assembly and harmonising the same with Caliber 16 makes the Metamorphosis one of the most complicated. How did you go about doing it?

The base Caliber 16.29 includes 252 pieces in about 7 mm on which the whole function of chronographe minutes had to be rebuilt. The “Metamorphosis” complication is 315 pieces in 4.3 mm meaning 567 pieces in total of the watch in 11 mm height. A high end double-tourbillon or minute repeater generally has 350 to 380 components in total. Yes, Metamorphosis is a major complication! The “Grand Sonnerie” is above this.

Do explain the chorography which you were able to achieve and now have been filed a patent for the same.

The idea came to us on December 28, 2008 and we conducted a global research whether anything like this had been thought of or ever done before. After this research turned out fortunately to be negative, we filed the patent. Metamorphosis is the first watch that functions independent of the other operating individually which may appear by choice one after another on the same position. This general aspect – not only its technical implementation – is patented. On purpose, and with agreement of Montblanc, the patent remains the property of Telos.

What is the relevance of displaying the civil time in Roman numerals and the chronograph dial in Arabic numerals? Has it been done to give each its identity?

Yes, the change of numbers (and the entire design) is to get a different aesthetical identity of each face of the watch while at the same time keeping a very technical and “horological” spirit of both faces. This system is innovative and truly unique both in its function and in the way it has been technically constructed. This is the first time that a function disappears in a watch and another one appears on the same spot! This fact is of course also included in the patent.

As soon as the slide on the left-hand flank of the case is pulled downward from the “10” to the “8,” the timepiece, I’m told, transforms into a chronograph within approximately  15 seconds.  Is there any significance to the duration?

The time 15 seconds is chosen so that the owner can have enough time to appreciate the transformation of his watch. The 15 seconds duration is not a technical necessity, but it is important not to let it go too fast.

How long did Metamorphosis take—from the design stage to making a prototype?

Normally such projects take from three to five years but in the case of Metamorphosis we were a bit faster! The idea came to us in December 2008 and we presented it to Mont Blanc in January 2009. We started work right away. The technical study began in February 2009 and was completed in October and the assembly of the first prototype was completed in January 2010 to be presented at Geneva’s Salon International Haute Horlogerie 2010. It was an extremely challenging project and both of us, as well as the watchmakers at Montblanc had to push their limits. We expect to delivery the first pieces before Christmas 2010.

Do tell us about your work in Telos?

Telos holds the patent of the concept of the “Metamorphosis”. We did the full technical development and integration on the Montblanc Calibre 16.29 in close collaboration with the departments from Montblanc in Villeret. The design of the watch was developed jointly by Montblanc’s designers and the watchmakers around Demetrio Cabiddu who worked enthusiastically in translating the technical plans into a working piece. In future, we want to establish Telos as a company offering development services, fabrication and turnkey delivery of concepts on the basis of patents filed and proposed for different brands in an exclusive way. Telos can also participate, monitor and integrate the basic idea proposed by customers.