At SIHH 2016 haute horology specialists Greubel Forsey thrilled fans and onlookers alike with the official unveiling of the Signature 1 timepiece. The first model in the newly announced Signature Series, many people are calling it the ‘entry-level’ piece for those who want a taste of what Greubel Forsey has to offer but aren’t able or willing to stump up half a million dollars to sample something more exotic.
The Greubel Forsey Signature 1
Personally though I think calling the Signature 1 an ‘entry-level’ timepiece is a bit of a misnomer and not just because of the price tag that comes attached (more on that in a minute). You see, if there is one thing we can say for certain about Greubel Forsey it’s that they love, love, love to make watches. And yes, before you ask, that third love was really necessary. These guys are seriously passionate about what they do. They only want to make the best of the best, no cutting corners, no stopping short. If it takes over a year to get the design and construction of a tiny globe just right, so be it.
Not surprisingly then the same unrelentingly patient approach has been taken in developing the Signature 1 timepiece that Greubel Forsey takes with all its other, far more complicated creations, although there is one notable difference. Rather than being completely conceived and developed by founders Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, the new Signature series will be comprised of timepieces created by one watchmaker working within the Greubel Forsey sphere.
This individual is still of course bound by Greubel Forsey’s philosophy of excellence in everything however they have been given the space to explore and evolve their ideas whilst at the same time benefiting from all the resources the Greubel Forsey watchmaking Atelier has to offer, which having personally toured the facilities on a few occasions, I can say is a lot. It’s almost like having an up-and-coming independent watchmaker working within an established independent watch manufacturer. Pretty cool, right?
To ensure there is continuity both within the collection and across the entire range, all models in the Signature series will follow the design ethos of Greubel Forsey, which I think is a good thing. That being said the watchmaker is still being given pretty much free reign when it comes to the technical, architectural and decorative elements, which arguably are of more significance. To acknowledge the magnitude of their contribution the watchmaker will even get to co-sign their creation – both on the movement and the dial itself – with Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey.
To kick things off, the highly talented watchmaker Didier J.G. Cretin – a long-standing employee of Greubel Forsey – was tapped for the opportunity to create the Signature 1, and boy did he deliver. Not one to shy away from breaking traditions, the Signature 1 represents the first time in the history of the brand that a manually wound watch with three hands has been produced.
There’s no tourbillon to be found – surprising I know – but don’t let that fool you, the Signature 1 is still very much a Greubel Forsey timepiece and exhibits all the hallmarks of a piece designed with the utmost care and an almost manic attention to detail. The main highlight of course is the large escapement occupying most of the bottom half of the dial – the wheel and in-house spring alone measure 12.6mm – proving beyond a doubt that a watch does not need to be overly complicated in order to be fascinating. The hour indicies have been directly engraved into the gold dial and then oven-fired enameled, whilst the hands are finished and countersunk by hand
Presented in a 41.4 mm x 11.7 mm thick case in your choice of metals, including for the first time ever steel (!!) 66 examples of the Signature 1 will be available total (11 in platinum, 11 in white gold, 11 in rose gold and the remainder, 33 pieces, in steel). Of the steel pieces however, the first 11 will be produced as a limited edition with a blue dial and will be for the US market only. After that the remaining 22 will be produced on a direct order basis.
Pricing starts from CHF150,000 (approx. US$180,000) for the steel version and goes up from there. It may seem like a lot to pay for a time-only watch – particularly one in a steel case – but when you consider the workmanship and value you are getting in return – especially compared to other pieces at this price point – plus the fact it is still a Greubel Forsey timepiece, the offer seems ever more compelling.
Personally I love the idea of the new Signature Series and if the Signature 1 timepiece is any indication of things to come I am very excited to see what the future holds.
For more information please visit www.greubelforsey.com