SIHH 2019 Press Release: Greubel Forsey Art Piece Historique

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Looking into the wide open heart at its three-dimensional construction and highly original geometry, the new Art Piece Edition Historique crowns the avant-garde aesthetic approach behind numerous exceptional creations. Combining technicity, exclusivity and the finest craftsmanship, this 33-piece limited edition (of which the first 11 are in platinum) presents a new vision of time in the spirit of the revived and renewed notion of Fine Watchmaking by Greubel Forsey.

Art of Invention. Greubel Forsey’s determined mission since its foundation in 2004. The focus on art and invention is both technical – with innovative mechanisms found in creations such as the Double Tourbillon 30°, the Quadruple Tourbillon, the GMT and the Grande Sonnerie – and architectural in terms of the highly original aesthetic approach that Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey pursue in their creative process. This major artistic and architectural adventure took off in 2006, when the two Inventor Watchmakers created the Opus 6 for Harry Winston. At a time when open dials were virtually unheard of, Greubel Forsey were pioneers of this revolution by showcasing their Double Tourbillon 30° (teamed with disc displays for the hours, minutes and power reserve) within a masterful multi-level three-dimensional movement.


Thought in Action: the Invention Pieces

This highly acclaimed model, although only a six-piece limited edition, was certainly not an isolated achievement. It marked the start of a ground-breaking journey, a true creative exercise whose development we can follow over the years, like observing the evolution of a painter, sculptor or architect. Rather than reworking an existing calibre in order to create a visual impact (as is generally the case with a skeletonised movement), Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey opted right from the outset to approach the entire conception of the movement in architectural terms. The period between 2007 and 2011 thus saw the emergence of the first three Invention Pieces, each paying tribute to one of Greubel Forsey’s Fundamental Inventions in the realm of tourbillons. Multilevel constructions, offset subdials, hand or disc displays, concentric hours/minutes indications, interplays of transparency and depth, contrasting materials and colours, lateral case windows, asymmetrical domed sapphire crystals: these three masterpieces defined the essence of a new aesthetic vocabulary, amplified by an extreme concern for fine craftsmanship as much for the movement as the exterior elements.

A new means of expression: Art Pieces

The birth of the astonishing Art Pieces heralded the next stage in the approach to a timepiece as a means of artistic expression. Art Piece 1 (2013), co-created with British artist Willard Wigan, was distinguished by a micro-sculpture housed inside the case, complete with a miniature high-power optical system ensuring surprising views of the artwork, otherwise barely visible to the naked eye. Art Piece 2 – Edition 1 (2016) paid a stunning tribute to watchmaking art supplanting the micro-sculpture with a micro-engraved sketch of the Double Tourbillon 30° which animates this timepiece. It was followed by the Art Piece 2 – Edition 2 (2017) which further pushed creative limits by combining the Double Tourbillon 30° with an on-demand display of the hours and minutes along with an oversized power reserve indication. The latter is, in fact, the only sign of time passing by when the hours and minutes aperture is closed.

Crowning achievement

Greubel Forsey now pays tribute to this artistic and architectural approach with a creation that sums up and magnifies its true spirit. Following on from previous Art Pieces, the Art Piece Edition Historique houses within its 44 mm-diameter case a new movement with a variation on the theme of the Double Tourbillon 30°: a mechanism designed to enable the balance wheel to oscillate consistently in all planes ensuring maximum precision. The new 475-part hand-wound movement boasts a 72-hour power reserve with optimal chronometric performance, ensured by two series-coupled fast-rotating barrels.

Three-dimensional architecture

The most eye-catching aspect of all is the multilevel construction that opens up whole new vistas. The gaze is first drawn to the Double Tourbillon 30° majestically set against a royal blue background, with the flat black polished bridge and hand-bevelled and open-worked cage pillars. It is a veritable sculpture in motion, with its inner tourbillon inclined at a 30° angle performing one rotation per minute and its outer tourbillon completing a revolution in four minutes. The small seconds’ dial is positioned on the same level, between 10 and 11 o’clock. Lifted onto a significantly higher plane, the power-reserve indication bears large Arabic numerals and a blued steel hand. Higher still, at 2 o’clock, the offset hours/minutes subdial has been replaced with a daring titanium dome featuring a hand-punched background entirely engraved with the finely polished Greubel Forsey key values.

The hours are discreetly displayed by a red hand on a separate rotating ring, while the minutes appear on request through an aperture thanks to a simple press on the crown-fitted pusher. By giving pride of place to the tourbillon and power reserve in relation to the hours/minutes indication, the Art Piece Edition Historique asserts itself as a ‘philosophical timepiece’. It draws the collector to experience a new relationship with temporality, based on a deeper consideration of the time passing and the time that remains. A true ‘carpe diem’ invitation to make the most of the moment in hand. The caseback also offers a most original design, a rear view of the Double Tourbillon 30° surrounded by the barrel bridge where one can admire the jewels in gold chatons and the hand-polished countersinks, completed by the relief-engraved signatures of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey.

Within the strictly limited 33-piece edition, the first 11 Art Piece Edition Historique timepieces are to be made in platinum and the 22 subsequent ones in different materials. Enhancing the sense of continuity with the other Art Pieces, Greubel Forsey has chosen to encompass the 18 previous examples within the total to date. The 11 platinum Art Piece Edition Historique models will thus be numbered from 19/51 to 29/51 – figures appearing both on the caseback and on the small plate alongside the Double Tourbillon 30°.

The Art Piece Edition Historique celebrates a new artistic and architectural vision of time, signed Greubel Forsey.

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