There’s almost no such thing as a truly handmade watch being produced today. Greubel Forsey’s watches are an exception, even among those made by the highest-end independent watch brands. Like other releases from the watchmaking duo, the new, descriptively named Hand Made 1 is avant-garde in its design, extremely technical, finished to the highest possible standards, and stratospherically expensive — with no price yet disclosed, but expected to be in the upper six figures, just consider it in the “if-you-have-to-ask” price range.
The brand claims that 95% of the watch’s 272 movement components and 36 case parts are handmade and hand-finished using traditional hand-operated tools. The jewels (which are functional parts of the movement, rather than decorative), spring bars (to attach the strap to the case), the sapphire crystals, the gaskets, and the mainspring comprise the 5% that’s machine-crafted.
Notably, even the ultra delicate hairspring is made by hand — visible from the dial side at 7 o’clock in the tourbillon. The hairspring is part of the balance, which helps regulate timekeeping, and it’s so difficult to produce that even many of the biggest, proudest watch companies outsource this component to specialists, where industrial machines turn out hundreds or thousands at once. In contrast, Greubel Forsey can make just a few at a time.
Each watch takes around 6,000 hours of work to complete (there are only 8,760 hours in a calendar year), and the brand will only make two or three pieces per year. The list of incredible, nearly lost craftsmanship techniques goes on, and it all comes together in a serious-looking watch with a 43.5mm-wide, 13.5mm-thick 18k white gold case. This is most certainly a watch for the most dedicated collectors to actually own, but still a wonder to behold for average, spectator watch fans.