The Naissance d’une Montre watch signed by Greubel Forsey, Philippe Dufour and Michel Boulangeris one of the most lauded artisanal timepieces to be created in recent times. Entirely created by hand, it symbolises the legacy of the traditional art of watchmaking passed down by some of the foremost watchmaking authorities in the world. The prototype took six years to make and only 11 of these watches exist.
The timepiece-driven by a manually wound movement with a three-handed display, and with a large tourbillon mechanism, following the great traditions of the 19th-century watchmakers, particularly Jacques-Frédéric Houriet and Abraham-Louis Breguet.
The sixth Naissance d’une Montre watch to be created is part of Christie’s Hong Kong Important Watches auction on July 13. The auction includes watches from The Titanium Collection and an Important Private Asian Collection. It is estimated to fetch between $5,00,000 and $10,00,000.
So how did it all start? In 2006, a handful of the world’s foremost independent watchmakers got together to keep the traditional craft of horology alive in the fast becoming industrialised world of watches. Philippe Dufour, one of the greatest masters of modern watchmaking, multi-axis tourbillion maestros Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey along with Vianney Halter, and Kari Voutilainen initiated the Time Aeon foundation to train future independent watchmakers.
In 2007, Dufour, Greubel, Forsey decided to embark on a project Le Garde Temps — Naissance d’une Montre (Birth of a Watch) to train a student in the subtle art of creating a timepiece entirely by hand with the help of historical manual machines.
Their chosen student, Michel Boulanger, a teacher of watchmaking at the Diderot vocational school in Paris began learning from the stalwarts.
Over a period of six years, the collaborative teaching project resulted in the birth of a unique artisan tourbillion timepiece. The school watch prototype sold for a staggering $1.46 billion at a Christie’s auction on May 30, 2016. The proceeds from the prototype, as well as the 11 watches, will help with future projects to preserve the traditional art of watchmaking.
Here are some of the other unique and rare watches that will go under the hammer at the same auction:
PATEK PHILIPPE A unique and highly important titanium automatic ”Cathedral” minute repeating annual calendar wristwatch, manufactured in 2003.
Estimate bid: US$1,000,000–3,000,000
PATEK PHILIPPE An extremely rare 18K gold minute repeating wristwatch, circa 1955.
Estimate bid: $5,00,000 to $10,00,000
HUBLOT An impressive and extremely rare sapphire crystal limited edition skeletonised vertical tourbillon wristwatch with 50-day power reserve indicator.
Estimate bid: $1,29,645 to $2,59,290
PATEK PHILIPPE An important and very rare platinum automatic astronomical wristwatch with sky chart, phases and orbit of the moon including the time of meridian passage of Sirius and of the moon and date. Estimate bid: $1,55,574 to $ 2,59,290
HARRY WINSTON & VIANNEY HALTER An unusual and rare 18K pink gold limited-edition wristwatch with digital time display and date, circa 2013.
Estimate bid: $71,305 to $1,23,163
PATEK PHILIPPE A magnificent and rare platinum double-dial wristwatch with 12 complications including ”cathedral'” minute repeating tourbillon, perpetual calendar with retrograde date, moon age and angular motion, sidereal time and sky chart, circa 2012.
Estimate: $10,11,231 to $15,55,740