2021: GENUS presents a watch with a spectacular centrepiece: a guardian dragon in motion that indicates the passage of time – GENUS DRAGON. Haute Horlogerie, mechanical engineering, goldsmithing, sculpture and engraving: GENUS brings these crafts and talents together to create a fascinating equilibrium between technical constraints and aesthetic requisites. The result is unprecedented. A graceful, powerful, expressive dragon crafted from 18K gold, like the main components of the movement, revealing not only a full range of horological artistry but also unlocking vast creative possibilities. GENUS Dragon opens a new chapter in the unfolding story of GENUS with the embodiment of the formidable symbolism that surrounds the myth, across worlds, ages and cultures.
After having reimagined the way to tell time, an endeavor rewarded with the Mechanical Exception Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in 2019 and, in 2020, presenting the GNS1.2 TD carved from a block of Damascene titanium, itself a prowess in metalsmithing, the brand continues to explore the infinite possibilities of its original approach to orbital mechanics for illustrating time.
In 2021, the complex and fluid movement that is the hallmark of GENUS watches breathes life into the most powerful and evocative of all mythical beings – the dragon. GENUS DRAGON makes a creature of legend come alive, fusing precious sculpture and mechanical architecture with engineering, watchmaking, goldsmithing and engraving artisanship of the highest order. The head of the dragon, too, plays a role in this most kinetic and intriguing expression of timekeeping revisited.
Hic sunt dracones
“Here be dragons.” On ancient maps these words indicated uncharted regions where unknown and unimaginable dangers lurked, where monsters were thought to exist. Sea dragons in the Middle Ages became flying dragons in more modern times, as popularized by recent film iconography. From the Gate of Ishtar in Babylon to the bow of Viking drakkar boats, from Chinese mythology to Germanic epic poems, the dragon is omnipresent in Eurasian cultures.
Mythical, powerful, projecting fear and awe as a menacing creature blowing fire and flame but also symbolizing fierce protection, wisdom and eternity – the dragon is an avatar of entwined creative and destructive power. It is also a guardian symbol. Since time immemorial, no other being truly captures the imagination like the dragon.
In order to pay tribute to the dragon and its symbolic power, GENUS decided to go beyond a simple representation, painted or passive, and made it an active presence in its watchmaking creation, thereby honoring the dragon’s role as the ultimate guardian of the ultimate treasure.
Here, the genera, i.e., the mobile elements GENUS invented for its tens-of-minutes display, become the dragon’s body. Eleven sculpted, decorated, hand-engraved rose gold segments follow the celestial trajectory of the analemma, the singular signature of GENUS.
1 – An inspired aesthetic
Of the extensive dragon iconography across the ages, GENUS has retained one graphic interpretation of the creature that reaches far beyond the imaginary realms of Chinese mythology: This dragon is long and lithe, wingless though endowed with flight, and characterized by a bearded mouth overhung with whisker-like tendrils.
The choice of expression
Vast is the spectrum of visualization for the symbolism surrounding the dragon. Here, GENUS struck a balance between strength and wisdom – an expression of benevolence but scrutinizing, poised and conscious of its power, yet unthreatening.
A creature of the earth in ancient oriental civilizations, of fire in European lore, the Asian dragon is linked to the element water. The way in which the genera fluidly trace the passage of time makes a natural connection with the mythical creature. Hence, the self-evident decision to bring this flowing transition to life in a horological context with GENUS DRAGON.
Conscious of the artistic and engineering challenges, GENUS enhanced the dragon’s being by making its backbone stand out, like a wave in motion, to accentuate proportions and reliefs, with a lithe, long and narrow body, a delicate yet commanding head, legs and paws that convey sinewy strength. A unique kinetic sculpture that GENUS calls onto the stage, and inaugurates with an elegantly shaped sapphire crystal that becomes an observation dome for this work of art. For it is not only a matter of seeing, but of being able to observe a dragon in its environment, watch it move, and enjoy its complex choreography.
2 – The magic of age-old artisanship
Of all the execution techniques available to the watchmaking world, GENUS opted for the most demanding, the most meaningful and the most precious. The dragon’s body is a fluid sculpture of 18K rose gold, composed of eleven segments – the genera – that move freely, one behind the other, and form the whole creature.
Raising the artistic and artisanal dimension, the 18K rose gold elements are sculpted and delicately engraved by hand. This culture of the exceptional is reflected in the attention to detail given to every aspect of the dragon. The body, scales, paws, claws, the head with its mischievous little horns, the beard, tongue and expressive eyes – they all shine with the high level of finish associated with Haute Horlogerie. There is not a single element which has not been crafted with the most meticulous care.
The complexity of the myth
Initially, Sébastien Billières believed this new endeavor would, at the most, require 3-4 months of technical development. In the end, modelling this mythical and minute creature took more than a year of seemingly insurmountable design and engineering challenges.
Indeed, this is not a static sculpture, carved as one piece. This dragon is in constant motion, the result of an articulation between the calibre and the free-moving segments on one hand, and between the segments themselves on the other. Moreover, there is nothing simple about the trajectory it follows. It is neither linear nor circular, and it crosses over itself. At its core, the GENUS watchmaking concept is based on a movement along an analemma, or figure eight, the sign of infinity.
The ‘return trips,’ as it were, around the foci, the rotations to the right and left, tracing the curves and diagonals – the behavior of each segment of the dragon’s body has been studied along this path, where the speed of progression fluctuates depending on the position along the trajectory. Each one of the eleven segments – of a particular shape, height and weight – is unique. This in turn enhances the impression of unencumbered movement and realistically evokes a serpent-like undulation that is best observed along the dragon’s spine.
A quintessential interaction
The magic is in the mix of crafts and artisanship: watchmaker and jeweller-engraver, both masters of their art, came together to create the most realistic texture for the inside of the mouth and the tongue, down to the smallest detail. To achieve this, the delicate head was sculpted from 6 separate blocks of gold. The gold thread tendrils that seem to float in the wind reveal the artist who inhabits the watchmaker. Absolute and uncompromising attention to detail pervaded each stage of the creation of this kinetic sculpture, where each element acquired a precise volume and dimension to allow the dragon to glide and cross over from one orbit to the other.
The dragon, a miniature expression of the mechanical art as is brought to life in antique automatons, is the fruit of a unique collaboration – a meeting of minds – between engineer, watchmaker, goldsmith, sculptor and engraver. Together they found a balance between mechanical constraints and aesthetic requisites. Thus, a whole range of artisan’s techniques were applied at multiple levels, from engraving to gold soldering to beading, to name only three.
The movement had to be assembled, disassembled, and reassembled three times to achieve the dragon’s natural, and fascinating, litheness and expressiveness. Consequently, just as many reworkings of the surfaces and textures were required.
Such a spectacular show of artisanship and engineering demanded a worthy stage. Whilst the case and movement of GENUS DRAGON are in white gold, the specifications of the sapphire crystal have been adapted to the requirements of this timepiece. Raised slightly higher and being more curved, it has become a display dome for the dragon in all its magnificence. A showcase for the spectator’s gaze, elegantly proportioned for the wrist. The overall impression of space, volume, and lightness in every sense of the word is in keeping with the other GENUS models, as the transparency of the view supersedes any concerns of height or thickness.
3 – Calibre Transfiguration
At the heart of GENUS DRAGON, there is the brain of the GNS1. Here, however, the tens-of-minutes are not indicated by a genus, but by the dragon’s head. The magical appearance of the dragon between crystal and movement is based on the same technical fundamentals as previous GENUS creations. Here, Calibre 160W-1.2 is the bedrock of GENUS’ watchmaking approach. By taking on the form of the dragon, the genera – the free-moving elements that transition from one orbit to the other on the tens-of-minutes display – demonstrate the flexibility and versatility of this singular interpretation of horological principles.
The architecture of Calibre 160W-1.2 reveals the nature, the driving force of GENUS.
The principles of freedom, flexibility and openness to further evolution that are at the core of GENUS stem from a dichotomy. Indeed, there are two parts, or modules, to the watch. The first, which can be described as the foundation, groups the essential functions, including a single barrel. It ensures a 50-hour power reserve, which is considerable in view of the complexity of the calibre and the masses in movement. The second module, overlaying the first, manages the display complication of hours, tens-of-minutes and precise minutes.
A heart of white gold
Entirely designed, developed and assembled in the Geneva workshop, GENUS DRAGON is the first and only watch in the world in which an articulated dragon expresses the passage of time. Here, the system indicating the tens-of-minutes takes the form of the mythical dragon creature and reveals the imaginative versatility of this unique calibre.
The plate and bridges are made of 18K gold sourced from an environmentally and socially responsible supply chain certified by the RJC (Responsible Jewellery Council). All the components of Calibre 160W-1.2 have been designed and hand-crafted by the watchmaker in the finest Haute Horlogerie tradition. All 390 components show a degree and quality of hand-finishing achieved only with the most meticulous care, with the mirror-polished anchor bridge, the micro-blasted plate and bridges in particular bringing out mesmerizing contrasts. The shapes of the beveled and polished edges, too, multiply the ways in which light plays to the calibre’s intrinsic beauty.
The flight of the dragon
Behind the singular GENUS movement and display complication resides the fruit of over ten years gestation and three years of development. The two main features that distinguish GNS are the subject of patent applications: the rotating and peripheral display of the hour indices; and the passage from one orbit of the analemma to the
other. The trajectory of the dragon’s body segments around the foci was a major issue. They must be kept in place, yet at the same time be free to progress from one wheel to the other. Squaring this circle was rendered even more perplexing by the fact that the matter concerns each segment.
The dragon segments are much heavier than the genera of the other GENUS watches. For one thing, they are made of 18K rose gold, a material much heavier than brass or steel. A dragon for keeping time would therefore pose a major constraint on the movement, both in terms of energy consumption and friction.
As for the required energy, it is amply supplied by the movement’s configuration, which delivers on its commitment to reliability, precision, and power to absorb the additional loads.
- Digital Passport
To provide owners the guarantee of their timepiece’s authenticity and traceability throughout its lifetime, GENUS has joined forces with the Arianee Project, an independent consortium with the mission to establish a global standard for the digital certification of valuables. Based on Blockchain technology, the decentralized and open-source protocol offers a set of new services for the watch owner that are directly accessible from the Certificate of Authenticity delivered with each GENUS watch.
The specifics of each GENUS DRAGON, including the transactions in which it is involved, e.g., sale and/or transmission to a new owner, service book, proof of ownership/theft declaration are recorded and protected. The Arianee protocol allows GENUS not only to emancipate itself from paper-based authentication (which can be counterfeited), but, most importantly, guarantees the traceability of the timepiece throughout its lifetime, even in the event of a change of ownership
If customers who are accustomed to conceptual fine watches should wonder as to the reliability of their movement, the history of GENUS and of its founders offers the best reassurance. Our longstanding experience as restorers, manufacturers and mentors has anchored the imperative of producing watches that work and will work for a long time deep in GENUS’ watchmaking culture.
GENUS DRAGON Technical Specifications
- Collection: GNS1
- Name: GNS DRAGON
- Reference: GNS1.2 WG DRAGON
- Material: 18K white gold
- Thickness: 18.8 mm
- Diameter: 43 mm
- Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal on face, flat sapphire crystal case back, with antireflective coating
- Crown: 18K white gold – G-E-N-U-S lettering in positive relief on the circumference, providing grip for winding
- Water-resistance: Approx. 30 meters (3 ATM)
- Calibre: 160W-1.2, manually winding, manufactured at the GENUS workshop in Geneva
- Material: Plate and bridges in 18K gold
- Components: 390
- Rubies: 26
- Frequency: 2.5 Hz or 18,000 vibrations per hour
- Power reserve: Approx. 50 hours
- Regulator: Variable inertia balance wheel, Swiss anchor escapement
- Modular: Two modules:
- – Power storage and transmission
- – Power distribution and regulation
- Hours: 12 satellite indices / peripheral and axial rotation (patent pending)
- Tens-of-minutes: 11 mobile elements transitioning between two counter-rotating wheels (patent pending), crafted from 18K rose gold, stylized to form a dragon, and hand-engraved
- Precise minute: Skeletonized disc
- Numbers and indicators: Coated with SuperLuminova™
The display is read from left to right:
- On the left, the hour is indicated by the fixed arrow
- In the center, the tens-of-minutes are indicated by the dragon’s head
- On the right, by the crown, the precise minute is indicated by the fixed arrow
STRAP AND BUCKLE
- Material: Calfskin (alligator upon request), rolled-edge (‘rembordé’), hand-stitched, choice of color
- Buckle: Pin buckle in 18K white gold (fold-over clasp available upon request)
- Suggested retail price: CHF 150 000 excluding VAT, ex works – for gem-set versions and bespoke possibilities, please contact us.