Monday, October 11, 2010

Why Greubel Forsey led the sales at Sotheby's Hong Kong

Sotheby's Hong Kong Sale of Important Watches raked in 7.4 million dollars on October 6th, 2010, making this the highest total for various owner sale of important watches. The watch that brought in the most money was the Greubel Forsey' Double Tourbillon 30º Vision No. 2 bringing in $ 325,641.
It is not merely pot luck that a Greubel Forsey watch topped the list.
Greubel Forsey has made great strides in the realms of complicated watches by inventing and reinventing new ways of complicated time display. Last year the Quadruple Tourbillon was awarded "Best Complicated Watch" at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie Asia. The Double Tourbillon 30° has been one of Greubel Forsey's great achievement.
Greubel Forsey's achievement stem from a refreshingly scientific approach to watch craftsmanship. Without forgoing the attraction of aesthetics, Greubel Forsey has emphasized the scientific approach to watch craftsmanship. Working on
Bregeut's 1795 invention of the tourbillon which was said to actually enhance the precision of a (pocket) watch by countering the effects of gravity, Greubel Forsey set out to prove the precision enhancement theory by designing a tourbillon, not merely to intrigue and captivate the wearer, but also to improve the watch performance.
As Steven Forsey Said, " We chose to concentrate initially on tourbillons as we felt that as there had been relatively little experimentation and innovation in that field in relation to wristwatches, we had a good chance of discovering and contributing something new."

One must remember back in 1795, precision was a much sought after luxury in itself, and it was noticed that stationary watches kept better time than pocket watches. Pocket watches were kept vertical most of the day and then held in a different position when read, and thus was not as accurate as a stationary watch.
The premise was that while the watch was kept in a vertical position, the axis of motion was perpendicular to the watch face causing gravity to exert a force on the movement being that the movement was parallel to the ground. In this regard the movement had to work harder against gravity than if the timepiece was in a horizontal position - with the axis of motion perpendicular to the ground. Thus gravity had different effects on the motion of the parts in different positions and possibly effect the accuracy of the watch. Thus, with this in mind, Abraham-Louis Bregeut invented the tourbillon. In a tourbillon, the entire escapement assembly comprising of the balance wheel, the escape wheel, hairspring and pallet fork rotates dispelling any effect of gravity. The accepted rate of rotation is one rotation a minute.

Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey set out to prove this antiquated premise in an arena where precision, although critical is very much taken for granted and a tourbillon, although lovely to look at, for the most part is viewed as functionally obsolete. Greubel Forsey has made great strides and with
the Double Tourbillon 30º Vision No. 2 has proven the functionality of the tourbillon. Their success is partly due to their methodical scientific approach to the process of watch making and a definite purpose. They know exactly where they want to be in the world of horology. Many watch companies striving for perfection have no specific goal in sight and end up manufacturing watches which are essentially recreation of old ideas. More and more watch companies are reintroducing old collections thereby reducing research and design costs.
However Greubel Forsey's, is by no means slowing down. From the introduction of its innovation platform - Experimental Watch Technology or EWT, they have introduced timepieces which amaze the horological world. Their empirical approach utilizes experimentation and resulting data to determine the performance of the watch whilst manipulating different variables and verifying the unknown. This approach is time consuming, but extremely effective, and provides Greubel Forsey with a definite edge in watch technology.
EWT has provided Greubel Forsey with the tools to formulate new inventions, two of which are currently in the works: The Binomial, and a cutting edge isochronically stable material used to craft the balance and the spring as well as a spherical Equality Differential harboring its own energy reserve that can offer a constant force to the oscillators.

If a company wants confirmation of success and innovation, then a 6 year old timepiece from a relatively new company topping the Sotheby's sales is confirmation enough.

By: R. Van Halem