Five Questions With Stephen Forsey of Greubel Forsey

The Greubel Forsey co-founder on the brand’s latest masterpiece.

Often when people talk about the pinnacle of watchmaking complications, it’s not the tourbillon that wears the crown but rather the minute repeater. So of course when Greubel Forsey unveiled their latest watch that combined the tourbillon and the minute repeater, not to mention added in what are arguably even more intricate complications – the grande and petite sonnerie – we were more than excited to have a chat with the creators. If you don’t quite know what a grande sonnerie is, we recommend you check out a few of these watches here.

Eager to learn more about this momentous milestone for Greubel Forsey, we sat down with one of its co-founders – Stephen Forsey – to talk about the Grande Sonnerie.

Stephen Forsey – co-founder of Greubel Forsey

Why did the Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie take 11 years?
There were a considerable number of key stages that led to the formation of this mechanical puzzle comprising almost 1,000 separate components. Making the case water-resistant to 30m, while maintaining sound level and quality, was a project in itself. Making the striking gear train silent was also important enough to require its own sub-project. And three of those years in development were devoted solely to wrist tests.

Which was the trickiest part to get right?
It was combining all the different objectives we had given ourselves. This meant coordinating our scientists and engineers, technicians and watchmakers, because in such a timepiece, you know if you have succeeded only when you have a complete prototype.

Were you inspired by other grande sonnerie watches?
Some inspiration came from antique clock-watches (grande sonnerie pocket watches), and our combined experiences with striking and repeating watches. Similar to how we revolutionised the tourbillon with our inclined tourbillon inventions, we wanted a completely original striking watch, so a minute repeater would have answered only part of this question.

Was it your intention from the start to keep the watch at similar dimensions to your other complicated pieces?
Absolutely. It was a key objective for the Grande Sonnerie to fit exactly into the 43.5mm x 16.13mm asymmetric case. These comfortable case dimensions, coupled with the water resistance and security functions, would surely encourage the collector to wear it and enjoy the timepiece.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
Quite honestly, while we are perfectionists and there is usually some detail or other (that bothers us), this Grande Sonnerie is so complete, l can’t think of anything more we could have done.

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