It was the end of a century, even the end of a millennium. Two entrepreneurs who had trodden unconventional paths decided to combine their talents. They envisioned an extreme, uncompromising approach to fine watchmaking that would reimagine, one by one, each of the technical and aesthetic fundamentals established over the previous 200 years.
Robert & Stephen would soon become Greubel Forsey. The two watchmakers set their sights directly on the heart of the watch: the escapement. Their first developments were realised by using Meccano!
The Double Tourbillon 30° was Greubel Forsey’s original invention: a first cage inclined at 30°, which completed a rotation in one minute, was inserted into a second cage that was level, completing a full rotation in four minutes. This original creation made it possible to achieve an optimised average timing rate in all positions of the timepiece. At the same time, the timepiece established the foundations of the Greubel Forsey aesthetic.
The Atelier’s identity was conceived to be sober, refined and very elegant. The essentials were already focused on the timepiece itself, not the watchmaker-designer duo. Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey stepped back behind the simple “GF” that would adorn all of their creations.
Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey’s creative spirit already extended far beyond the limits of their timepieces. The two watchmakers had a vision for the next 20 years, 30 years and even 50 years. The EWT – for Experimental Watch Technology – would be the laboratory for their wildest designs and dreams. It remains the most avant-garde watchmaking hub in the world of fine watchmaking to this day.
It would take less than two years for Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey’s reputation to spread beyond their Atelier. In 2006, Harry Winston commissioned the pair to create an Opus 6 that would build on their work and establish an increasingly unique signature aesthetic.
In a first in the world of fine watchmaking, an escapement became the stand-alone star of a new timepiece. Not since 1801, when the tourbillon was patented, had such a development taken place. The timepiece took a back seat to the tourbillon, even taking on its name: “Tourbillon 24 Secondes”. A major leap in the science of watchmaking, this Pivotal Invention remains at the heart of the Atelier’s creations to this day.
Greubel Forsey’s Invention Piece collection was developed to give new creative momentum to existing developments based on the Pivotal Inventions. In this first edition, the Double Tourbillon 30° was displayed on a unique horological stage, with a highly audacious display of information.
With its four tourbillons, each one making an independent contribution to the achievement of an optimised rate, the Quadruple Tourbillon was introduced in an asymmetrical case. The technical performance delivered by the innovative spherical differential found subtle expression in a contemporary aesthetic.
As it pushed watchmaking know-how to its limits, to fields that few people still mastered, Greubel Forsey became aware of the need to preserve this knowledge. As such, a foundation was created – the Time Æon Foundation – with the aim of recording, documenting and sharing the knowledge of these crafts and their applications.
With the Invention Piece 3, Greubel Forsey invented a new technical and aesthetic language. The values of the Atelier were, henceforth, engraved on a bridge. The Tourbillon 24 Secondes found full expression within a dial organised around a 24-hour display. The timepiece was pre-selected at the GPHG while another timepiece, the “Technique”, won the Best Complication prize in the same year.
The Double Tourbillon 30°, or the “DT30” to those in the know, was given a new aesthetic. The very concept of the dial disappeared in favour of a new layout of each component of the watch, each one magnified individually. The notions of architecture and three-dimensionality were thus established. They would only continue to gain momentum in the future.
Just ten years after its creation, Greubel Forsey decided to extend its legendary 17th-century farmhouse – which is still occupied by the Atelier. With an exceptionally daring quality, the building stands as a testimony to Greubel Forsey’s vision: firmly rooted in the watchmaking terroir, it is open and forward-looking at the same time. At the entrance to La Chaux-de-Fonds, this major architectural project carries the imprint of the Atelier on this age-old centre of creativity and craftsmanship.
The Prix Gaïa may not be the most well-known prize among the general public but it is one of the awards most cherished by the founders and employees of Greubel Forsey, to whom it was awarded to honour the entrepreneurship of the Atelier. An honorary prize that cannot be subscribed to, the Prix Gaïa is awarded by the greatest authorities in the field. A prize awarded by peers, it definitively hailed – and validated – the arrival of the young Atelier in the ranks of the watchmaking greats.
The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) and Greubel Forsey were about the same age, ten years old. By awarding its highest distinction, the Aiguille d’Or, to the new Atelier, the GPHG sought to honour Greubel Forsey’s unparalleled and faultless journey along the arduous path of the fine watchmaking world, giving recognition to its profoundly disruptive timepieces.
As its name suggests, the Invention Piece 2 paid tribute to Greubel Forsey’s Pivotal Invention 2. The timepiece revisited the Quadruple Tourbillon through a completely new architectural design and structure. The movement was visible through the domed sapphire crystal and back, as well as through a lateral window. The two Double Tourbillons were presented in inverted positions to provide a view of both of their faces.
Greubel Forsey decided to share the progress of its fundamental research work. It was a rare move in the world of fine watchmaking, and one that received instant and universal praise. An “EWT” – an acronym for the Experimental Watch Technology programme launched in 2005 – timepiece was unveiled, featuring a Double Balancier inclined at 20°, which would join the Atelier’s collections several years later.
After spending its first ten years devoted entirely to redesigning the escapement, Greubel Forsey unveiled its first in-house complication: a very daring GMT. The timepiece featured a spinning globe that reproduced the Earth’s rotation in real time. It offered an intuitive view of time all over the world as well as a day/night indication. A lateral window revealed the southern hemisphere and flooded the globe with light to symbolise daytime.
The Double Tourbillon 30° was subjected to the most stringent tests in fine watchmaking – those featured in the Concours de Chronométrie. The process is rigorous, requiring each piece to be assessed according to each and every aspect of its chronometric performance, the results of which are also pitted against other watches. Greubel Forsey won by a wide margin, with an exceptionally high score of 915 points out of 1000.
The Quadruple Tourbillon Secret was designed to provide a special connection between Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey and its wearer. Representing the ultimate in refinement, this timepiece would offer enthusiasts the promise of an exceptional movement whose mechanical magic is visible only from the case back, while the dial side redefined the expression of timekeeping through the harmonious arrangement of multiple indications.
Committed to enhancing the modernity of its creations, Greubel Forsey developed an original timepiece distinguished by a powerful blue colour with the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain. At once more refined and more elaborate, its dial was marked by a strong emphasis on volume and depth.
Following the creation of the Time Æon Foundation in 2008, Greubel Forsey set out to make this vision a reality: to create a watch using traditional techniques, in order to preserve every single ounce of knowledge. The “NM1” project would last six years. It would bring together Robert Greubel, Philippe Dufour, Stephen Forsey and Michel Boulanger to produce a unique timepiece that would later be auctioned.
Every creation by Greubel Forsey has been continually reworked and optimised, and the Double Balancier is no exception. In 2013, it was transformed into an updated version inclined at 35°, presented in a new, streamlined style.
The Double Tourbillon 30° was redesigned in an asymmetric case. The rotating Double Tourbillon cage system was in turn repositioned between 7 and 8 o’clock. The Double Tourbillon 30° was reimagined, notably featuring a new tourbillon bridge, to be displayed “in reverse”.
Greubel Forsey opened up the art of watchmaking to the world of art itself. The Art Piece collection drew parallels between the worlds of visual arts and watchmaking. This was a new zone of expression that Greubel Forsey intended to share with carefully selected artists whose aesthetic language was in resonance with the universe of the Atelier.
It would take almost 15 years for Greubel Forsey to develop its simplest timepiece: with two central hands and a small second hand, the timepiece featured the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision in a very slender case thanks to a sapphire dome which, on the case back, made room to encompass its inclined face.
Very few brands have won two Aiguilles d’Or at the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, and Greubel Forsey is one of them. Presented in the same year, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision earned the Atelier the GPHG’s ultimate accolade once more.
The Signature 1 was conceived by Didier Cretin, a long-time team member at Greubel Forsey. For the first time in the history of the company, he created a manually wound timepiece with three hands, without a tourbillon function, and which featured an exclusively designed Greubel Forsey balance.
Optimising timekeeping as an alternative to the tourbillon, two inclined balances were coupled to a Constant Spherical Differential, which would provide a more steady amplitude. The result was an instantly eye-catching timepiece with a dial offering a wide view of the heart of the mechanism. The style of this highly graphic composition still inspires Greubel Forsey’s creations to this day.
A simple name was chosen to reflect the Atelier’s vision to return to the fundamentals of fine watchmaking by working on its core component: the Balancier. This very pared-down timepiece was designed in perfect harmony with the age-old principles long upheld by Greubel Forsey.
This new timepiece was designed to feature Greubel Forsey’s 5th Pivotal Invention – the Différentiel d’Égalité – to provide a regulated driving force, an essential factor in achieving improved accuracy of timing performance. This marked the first time that Greubel Forsey had integrated a dead-beat second in one of its timepieces.
The groundbreaking spirit that is a hallmark of Greubel Forsey is particularly evident in this timepiece, which made three time zones immediately visible thanks to its authentic terrestrial globe. By reproducing the Earth’s rotation in real time, it made the reading of the time all over the world, as well as the day/night indication, intuitive. With this design, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey totally reinterpreted the very notion of the GMT watchmaking complication.
With its open-heart construction, three-dimensional effects and highly original geometry, the Art Piece Edition Historique was the crowning achievement of an avant-garde aesthetic approach that had already yielded several exceptional creations. Blending technical sophistication, exclusivity and craftsmanship, this masterpiece would offer a new vision of time, in a revitalised and reimagined spirit of fine watchmaking. Everything that made up the original universe of Greubel Forsey.
With its four tourbillons, each one making an independent contribution to the achievement of an optimised rate, the GMT Quadruple Tourbillon was introduced in an asymmetrical case that also provided housing for the terrestrial globe cherished by Greubel Forsey. With a very contemporary aesthetic, the two organs were designed to echo, on the dial, the two time indications (hours and minutes, and GMT).
With its reinvented case, this timepiece met the needs of a new generation of collectors. Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey continued their research into the field of sports watches by pushing the limits of ergonomics and comfort. This led them to invent a new case design, circular from above but convex from the side, to fit the curve of the wrist. The sculptural timepiece with highly streamlined volumes also stood out for its integrated lugs and four patent applications.
The large bridge that runs through the timepiece anchored its aesthetics within a more contemporary and urban vocabulary. The very high level of finishing was designed to be appreciated from every angle, with the constant, three-dimensional plunging view towards the escapement that gave it its name: Balancier S.
Antonio Calce, a leading figure in the watchmaking industry for several decades, became a member of the Greubel Forsey Board as well as its CEO. Strengthened by the trust of Robert Greubel—the majority shareholder—Antonio Calce has committed Greubel Forsey to a fundamental transformation to establish it as a long-lasting watch brand, capitalising on the existing strengths and excellence of the Atelier Manufacture.
No fine watchmaking brand had ever dared to commit themselves 100% to using vegetable leather straps. Greubel Forsey made the decision to do so, banishing the use of alligator from all of its new creations. This powerful gesture immediately placed the Atelier at the forefront of the issues of its time.
Greubel Forsey has acquired Richemont's shares in the company and is once again completely independent. Robert Greubel is Chairman of the Board and majority shareholder, Antonio Calce is CEO and Executive Board Member, and Stephen Forsey is Technical Expert. Between them, they own all the shares in Greubel Forsey. This independence is used to further strengthen Greubel Forsey's exceptional expertise, which is reflected in a fully mastered design and manufacturing process as well as a unique sense of creative freedom.
Each timepiece is designed with great attention to detail and quality, in order to offer a unique experience to every fine watchmaking enthusiast. As you explore our collection, you will discover our most iconic pieces as well as our newest collections, which combine contemporary design with innovative features.Discover the collection