Greubel Forsey's Montre Ecole, the first watch to be created as part of the Naissance d’une Montre project, sold for US $1,461,507 (with a low-end estimate of US $450,000) at the Christie’s auction in Hong Kong. This marks a new milestone for the Naissance d’une Montre – Le Garde Temps project and represents a validation of the combined efforts of Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey and Philippe Dufour to safeguard and transmit traditional watchmaking knowledge and skills.

The same watch recently received a never before seen 100/100 points by the independent critic’s guide The Watch Enthusiast.

In 2006, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, along with independent colleagues Philippe Dufour, Vianney Halter and others, set out to return a predominantly product and brand-centered industry back to its artisanal roots. In an effort to keep ancestral watchmaking techniques from being completely lost and replaced by automation, the team had to find a way to preserve, safeguard and transmit what was left of these traditional techniques for future generations.
The solution lay in finding a young watchmaker to entrust with the knowledge and skills necessary to handcraft a complete watch entirely from scratch. The chosen watchmaker was Michel Boulanger.

Showing great promise as a watchmaker, great patience in overcoming the many challenges posed by such an endeavor and great interest in acquiring the vast skill set made him an ideal candidate for the project. Already a teacher at the Paris watchmaking school, he was able to share his knowledge with the next generation of watchmakers.
Several months later, the Naissance d’une Montre – Le Garde Temps project was launched. Michel Boulanger was taken under the wing of legendary watchmaker Phillippe Dufour, who introduced him to ancestral techniques and traditional tools, many of which had to be specially-made. For the next six years, Michel worked closely with Phillipe Dufour and specialists at the Greubel Forsey Atelier to handcraft this first watch.
After presenting it in its various stages, the finished School Watch was finally unveiled in 2016. Inspired by a late 18th – early 19th century approach, the watch houses an inversed movement with three hands display. At its heart is a large tourbillon, with a frequency of 18,000 vibrations/ hour. The tourbillon cage is also in the tradition of the great watchmakers of the 19th century, particularly Jacques-Frédéric Houriet and Abraham-Louis Breguet.

In order to provide an appropriate setting for the tourbillon mechanism, Michel and the project’s initiators opted for an off-centered dial indicating the hours and minutes. The manual production of each individual part of the movement, irrespective of whether it can be seen or is hidden from sight in the interior of the movement, is of key importance.

As observed by Philippe de Palma of The Watch Enthusiast, ‘we are in the presence of a watch which represents the best of what can be done in terms of nobility of the approach and by its very high level of expertise required for its making’.


The School Watch (‘Montre École’) is the first of eleven subsequent pieces to be made. It is a true testament to the spirit of the Naissance d’une Montre project, of its maker and of traditional watchmaking as a whole.

The proceeds from this auction will go to Time æon Foundation and towards further progression and development of the Naissance d’une Montre project in helping to ensure the teaching of excellence in traditional watchmaking.

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This story originally appeared on our sister site, Watchuseek.com