Within 10 years of her founding, Greubel-Forsey has rightful claim to be one of the top watchmakers in the industry.
Founded in 2004 by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, the house of Greubel-Forsey is well known for multi-hundred thousand dollar watches, featuring ultra complicated tourbillons. In this article, the Deployant team had the opportunity to visit their manufacture in La Chaux-du-Fonds in the Swiss Jura to see how serious they are in the art of watchmaking.
Some 100 people work in the company with a total production of only 120 watches, and this is indication on the amount of research and development work, the amount of production work and the detail they go into the achieve the reputation.
All design and development work is done in-house within the premises. And all the components used in the watches are also made within the same factory building. As an example to the extent of in-house manufacture is done within Greubel-Forsey, we take a look at the screws used in the movement.
Not many manufactures make their own screws. But Greubel-Forsey does. The Tournos machines, modified by Elwin are used to turn tubes of steel into screws. Elwin’s and sister company Atokalpa (both owned by Parmigiani Fleurier) also makes and sells these highly finished, high end screws to the industry, but for volumes as small as what Greubel-Forsey requires, they prefer the higher degree of control enabled by manufacturing them in-house. These are individually blued to a beautiful deep hue, and each screw is polished by hand.
While making your own screw is not a critical part of making a watch, the extent where Greubel-Forsey takes to make and finish each screw which goes within each watch is indicative of the obsession this house takes on each and every component.
The result of this obsession, which, of course extends beyond just making screws, but to every tiny detail are magnificently beautiful watches. Each a miniature 3 dimensional art piece, with depth, visual artistry combined with great technical virtuosity.
Do you know which watchmaking houses make their own screws? Do you know most movements use low end screws which are sold by weight rather by per piece? Contrast this to the handful of high end manufactures, who do not make their own screws in-house buy screws which cost a SFr 2-5 each? And the even smaller handful who actually make the screws in-house.