After introducing a new way of looking at and telling time with orbital hours and minutes with the Genus GNS1, which garnered the Mechanical Exception Prize at the most recent Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). In this new release, Genus explores the world of metal artisanship.
Press Release with commentary in italics.
Thinking differently, combining creativity as well as singularity, leaving the beaten track, inventing instead of replicating, stretching the ingenious whilst ensuring precision, reliability, legibility and wearability: In 2019, Genus opened the first chapter of its story with two remarkable timepieces, the GNS1.2 WG and the GNS1.2 RG.
Ten years of research, two inventions and three years of development went into this watch. Two patents lay down the basic principles of the two innovative mechanisms that underpin this free-flowing time display.
One in rose gold, the other in white gold, both measuring 43 mm in diameter and 13.1 mm thick, featuring the calibre 160W-1.2 or 160R-1.2, a new movement consisting of 418 components, entirely created and manufactured in-house in the Geneva workshop. It is a movement characterised first and foremost by its novel complication for indicating time. No dial, no hands.
Genus GNS1.2 TD Damascene Titanium
For 2020, Genus presents a new version of the GNS1.2 in a material virtually unheard of in watchmaking: damascene titanium.
It is a new chapter in the Genus story, in more ways than one. The presentation of the new watch is also the occasion for announcing the digital certification of all its timepieces, an effective and modern means of combating counterfeiting and guaranteeing authenticity for the owner of the timepiece throughout its lifetime.
While damascening metal is not a new exploration for watches, we think perhaps this may be the first attempt to do it with titanium instead of the usual steel. Damascus steel watches are offered by GOS as a speciality and HYT SKull, to name two in recent years.
A Damascene moment
In 2020, Genus re-imagines the GNS by incorporating it in a new metal case. After white gold and rose gold, Genus ventures into new territory for watchmaking with a damascened titanium case, hence the name GNS1.2 TD (Titane Damassé). Applying the Damascus smithing technique to titanium requires a rare savoir-faire. In fact, the skill is listed in the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in France. It is craftsmanship elevated to art, true artisanship, the domain of only the best metalsmiths. It has similarities with the working method of Mokume-gane in Japan, where the method has been used for making katana sword blades since the early 17th century.
The application of Mokume-gane is an area of expertise of Dutch engraver and watchmaker Kees Engelbarts, who have presented several pieces with this art form.
Folds within folds upon folds…
The art of damascening consists of forging sheets of metal layer by layer. After having been hammered, each sheet is folded back upon itself, and the operation is repeated as many times as necessary – one might say like preparing the laminated dough used for puff pastry.
This homogeneous ‘stacking’ of homogeneous layers, each one annealed between each fold, gives the material an entirely new, very particular aspect. Each incision, each bevel into the edge of the damascened metal reveals the strata, the shapes, the undulations, the unique character of each layer.
… and variations thereof
The difficult work, at the heart of the forge’s embers, of folding and layering is usually done with iron or steel for katana blades. Although 40% lighter, titanium is three times harder and can be forged at temperatures 300 degrees higher than for conventional watchmaking steel. This makes the method, which remains largely manual, quite laborious, and complex. In addition, to further enrich the appearance of this basic material, Genus works with layers of various titanium alloys, each of which exhibits a different tint and reaction to heat. The colourful effect is rendered even more visually arresting by the final heat treatment that determines the general tone of the metal block, along with its subtle differences in tints and hues.
Bespoke colours and contrasts
Each part of the GNS1.2 TD’s casing is cut at an angle to achieve a different, unique appearance. Genus then works to coordinate the different parts that make up a watch. Here, the intimate relationship between Genus and the wearer again comes into play. Indeed, the future owner is invited to attend the ‘damascene revelation’ by open flame at the Genus workshop in Geneva and will be able to intervene directly in the colouring as well as decide on a particular surface finish: matte, satin or polished. Only the owner shall be privy to the secrets of the manufacturing process and the artisans’ skills.
The term bespoke is perhaps used loosely here. Bespoke means that the commissioner has spoken his wishes for the product to be made to his exact specifications. In this case, the patterns and colours in the final damascening occurs naturally by the action of the artist, forming the shapes and hues on its own.
The movement GNS1.2TD
At the core of the GNS1.2 TD, the same heart, the same brain as in the GNS1.2 WG – the 18K gold in-house calibre.
It is now possible for the orientation of the ‘genera’ – the hallmark free-moving elements that flow in a pattern to indicate the tens-of-minutes – to be personalised. They can be set straight or inclined, depending on the wearer’s aesthetic preference for the watch. This option can provide a more comfortable legibility for some owners.
In addition, Genus adjusted the curvature of the sapphire crystal which eliminated the perceived ridges on the upper perimeter. This mitigates any visual distortion of the hour indices, thereby improving clarity of the timekeeping mechanism.
All the components of the calibre 160W-1.2 have been designed and hand-worked by the watchmaker. The main plate and bridges are made of 18K gold obtained through an ecologically and socially responsible supply chain, certified by the RJC (Responsible Jewellery Council). Another advantage: Gold has an anti-magnetic property and is therefore largely protected from the harmful influence of magnetic fields. Finally, gold lends itself extremely well to the finest finishing techniques.
The watch comes with a digital certification which uses blockchain technology to provide a digital passport of the watch, with a photograph, individual serial numbers to be a unique and forgery-proof identification for the timepiece.
“A new way of looking at and telling time” that’s vastly inferior to the traditional way. Beautiful presentation, though.