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Greubel Forsey and Philippe Dufour - Le Garde Temps project

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Greubel Forsey and Philippe Dufour, two celebrated haute horlogerie manufacturers, joined forces for "Le Garde Temps - Naissance d'une Montre", a project whose main goal is recording and preserving for posterity traditional watchmaking techniques.

It all started in 2007 when they had the idea to act against the serious risk that the heritage of ancestral procedures and techniques typical of high-end watchmaking could disappear as a consequence of the increasing mechanisation and massive recourse to automation.

They decided to choose a pupil, transmit their expertise to him and then putting the techniques learnt into practice by creating a timepiece entirely by hand using traditional tools, such as the uprighting tool, the hand-mandrel lathe and the topping tool.

In turn, the pupil had to pass these skills to others. So the perfect pupil for this project was a teacher, holding a position where he/she could easily share with others this precious know-how.

The choice of Greubel Forse and Philippe Dufour was Michel Boulanger, a French watchmaking teacher at the Diderot vocational training college in Paris.

The "Le Garde Temps - Naissance d’une Montre" project was ready to start in 2009, then officially announced at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) held in January 2012 in Geneva.

With such exceptional mentors, Boulanger started creating a new timepiece with the following specifications: a circular wristwatch driven by a manually wound movement with three-hands time display and equipped with a tourbillon mechanism respectful of the great tradition of 19th century watchmakers, particularly Jacques-Frédéric Houriet and Abraham-Louis Breguet.

Finally, the first of the eleven-piece series has been completed and it is now on sale with delivery planned for early 2016.

A concentration of watchmaking techniques in line with quality criteria of Greubel Forsey and Philippe Dufour creations, the new timepiece features an off-centre dial displaying the hours and minutes and a small seconds counter at 9 o-clock. The steel hands are thermally blued.

The specific construction of the timepiece, with the barrel and the tourbillon on the main face, requires a complex machining of the main plate.

The 45 mm x  15.1 mm white gold case houses a hand-wound movement slow-beating at 2.5 Hz (18,000 vibrations per hour). The price of the first "Le Garde Temps" timepiece will be Swiss Francs 450,000.

The funds from the sale of this handful of timepieces will be used to sponsor the future of the project and keep transmitting the watchmaking heritage.

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