«Le Garde Temps - Naissance d’une Montre»

Three designers focused on a single project… A young teacher of horology tasked with handing down rare skills on the point of being forgotten… A handmade timepiece… The cast list of the «Le Garde Temps - Naissance d’une Montre» project.

After a long and often arduous process marked by numerous ups and downs, the fruit of an obsessional desire to research, record and transmit the techniques involved in traditional handmade watchmaking, the project «Le Garde Temps - Naissance d’une Montre» has finally reached the crucial phase of completing the first fully working, cased-up piece. We are now proud to offer for sale the first of the timepieces in question, with an anticipated delivery date of late 2016. Conceived to initiate a series of eleven pieces, this timepiece has been completed thanks to the determination of just a few resolute watchmakers who have chosen to confront the relentless passage of time. It is therefore the result of an exhilarating technical and human adventure. This new creation is a significant piece of history, and is a concentration of watchmaking heritage. Moreover, it fully corresponds to the quality criteria established by the timepieces of Greubel Forsey and of Philippe Dufour, the value of which in terms of investing in our common heritage is beyond question.

Last but not least, the final phase of this adventure will be to use the funds from the sale of this handful of timepieces to sponsor the future of the project with the ultimate aim, «transmission of watchmaking heritage».

The story
In 2007, Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey and Philippe Dufour, all three of whom are members of the Time Aeon Foundation, reached an alarming conclusion: due to increasing mechanisation and a massive recourse to automation in the world of watchmaking, an entire heritage of ancestral procedures and techniques was on the verge of disappearing. They therefore decided to act by combining their efforts to select a pupil and then transmit their expertise to him. This chosen pupil should put the techniques learned into practice by creating a timepiece by hand using traditional tools, such as the uprighting tool, the hand-mandrel lathe and the topping tool. In turn, the pupil shall transmit these skills to future generations thus safeguarding from oblivion a certain form of watchmaking excellence.

They chose Michel Boulanger, a French watchmaking teacher at the Diderot vocational training college in Paris. The «Le Garde Temps - Naissance d’une Montre» project that started in 2009, was officially launched at the prestigious Salon international de la haute horlogerie (SIHH) held in January 2012 in Geneva. Every month Michel, the teacher-turned-pupil, travelled to La Chaux-de-Fonds to build up a store of knowledge from Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey, Philippe Dufour and from various other specialists practising at the Greubel Forsey Atelier. Thanks to the regular round-trips between Switzerland and his workshop in the Beauce region to the south-west of Paris, and working within the framework of a six-year project, Boulanger embarked upon the creation of an exceptional timepiece. This was to be a circular wristwatch, of extremely pure design, driven by a manually wound movement with three-hands time display and equipped with a tourbillon mechanism following in the great tradition of 19th century watchmakers, particularly Jacques-Frédéric Houriet and Abraham-Louis Breguet. So as to showcase the tourbillon mechanism, the structure of this timepiece features an off-centre dial displaying the hours and minutes. The different finishes applied to each component are of vital importance, even if they are not ultimately visible, in that they epitomise the concept of outstanding handmade craftsmanship that is at the heart of the «Le Garde Temps - Naissance d’une Montre» project.

June 04, 2015