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For watch aficionados, the handmade aspects of a timepiece are often the highlight and drive demand. One high-end watchmaker, Greubel Forsey, took that idea to the extreme by releasing a wristwatch created almost entirely by hand.
Ninety-five percent of the components—including the hairspring—of the Hand Made 1 were made using only hand-operated tools, a rare feat in the industry. To bring that vision to life, it took 6,000 hours of work (the equivalent of three years in man-hours) from a team of craftsmen to create a single watch.
At every stage of the process, the team asked, "How can we design this part to be able to make it using traditional tools or machines such as a jig borer or lathe? And which shape can we give it so the artisans’ intelligent hands can ensure extraordinary precision and the nest craftsmanship?"
The result? Over 800 individual parts had to be made to get the final 308 components that met Greubel Forsey’s criteria; it took almost 35 times longer to make the complete tourbillon cage and 600 times longer to hand-make one wheel. Not to mention, a single screw took eight hours to make and required up to 12 individual operations. Ultimately, of the 308 components, only the sapphire crystal, case gaskets, spring bars, jewels, and the mainspring were not handmade.
“Hand Made 1 by Greubel Forsey takes traditional watchmaking to a new unprecedented summit,” read the release. “Never before has a handmade timepiece exhibited such a high level of workmanship and precision. This timepiece, unique in the history of watchmaking, is the fruit of a technical and human endeavor of epic proportions, enlisting extraordinary talents and setting the course for the future.”
Given this craftsmanship and honoring of traditional horology, it’s no surprise that production is limited. Greubel Forsey will make just two to three Hand Made 1 timepieces per year. And, as you can imagine, the price is upon request.