FIRST LE GARdE TEmPS TImEPIECE
This year, a project known as the Le Garde Temps – Naissance d’une montre reached an important milestone, with the completion of an extraordinary timepiece driven by a manual movement with a three-hand time display and tourbillon. What makes this piece truly exceptional, however, is that it is crafted entirely by hand, through traditional watchmaking techniques, using only traditional tools.
The Le Garde Temps – Naissance d’une montre is a project initiated by Robert Greubel, Stephen forsey and Philippe dufour in 2009, in an aggressive response to the realization that the increasing mechanization and automation in watchmaking is putting age-old, traditional watchmaking techniques on the brink of extinction. The project involved selecting an apprentice, in this case french watchmaking teacher michel Boulanger, who would be mentored personally by Greubel, forsey and dufour, in time-honored watchmaking techniques practiced and perfected by the 19th century horology masters like Jacques-frédéric Houriet and Abraham-Louis Breguet, using only traditional tools, such as the uprighting tool, hand-mandrel lathe and the topping tool.
It took Boulanger six years of close mentoring to build up this level of knowledge in traditional watchmaking, and to complete the first fully functional watch. This piece is only the first of eleven planned for this series, with all proceeds from the sales forwarded to sustaining the Le Garde Temps – Naissance d’une montre project.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT It took Michel Boulanger six years to finish the first fully working, cased-up piece; The watch was made using mainly traditional watchmaking tools like these; First Le Garde Temps, fully handcrafted timepiece with three hands