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Greubel Forsey Co-founder Talks About Their India Plans And More

On his maiden visit to India, Stephen Forsey of the luxury watch brand Greubel Forsey opens up to MW

How do you view India as a market, particularly for a super-niche, technology and innovation-driven brand like Greubel Forsey?

India has always been a country of connoisseurs of fine watchmaking. We already have Indian collectors and there are still many more we would like to meet personally. We are looking forward to sharing our expertise and passion for fine watchmaking with journalists, collectors and partners.

Stephen Forsey

What’s your experience been with the Asian market so far in general? Do you have an India specific strategy?

Greubel Forsey is already very present in Asia, with longstanding relationships with specialized retailers. We’re not planning on opening boutiques in other locations or to increase production, but we continue to build a truly qualitative experience for our collectors and to have a specialist watch partner, or as we also call them, an ‘Embassy’ in the regions where our collectors reside.

The most talked about Greubel Forsey watch this year has been the Differentiel d’ Egalite. Some call it the best watch launched in 2018. What has the response been so far, considering its price? Do you see a market in Asia for watches like this?

The feedback from both our collectors and our retail partners has been excellent. There is great potential in Asia for the Différentiel d’Égalité as we already have a number of important collectors there.

Quadruple Tourbillon Blue

Your other big unveiling this year has been the Mechanical Nano concept. How long before watches under this project will be commercialised? And considering the kind of technology that is going into it, will it ever be affordable?

Mechanical Nano is truly groundbreaking and will help us to revolutionize mechanical horology. Overcoming the traditional barriers of energy and space in a mechanical watch, we have already validated the fundamentals for the first project, which will see the light of day within the next two to three years. As this is a totally new domain, we are still exploring and discovering the full potential.

Greubel Forsey has been pushing the limits of watch making technology for nearly a decade-anda-half now. Do you see yourself having reached some kind of a saturation point, where things start slowing down?

We are still a young company, and there are so many things that we still want to do and others that we are already working on. Inside these ambitions are also challenges in terms of expertise, our team, finding the right people to help us complete and do what we need to. We are determined to continue innovating in high-end watchmaking and always improve our methods of combining a contemporary approach with traditional knowledge. We are only at the beginning of the adventure.

Sketch by Stephen Forsey

What is your view on smartwatches? Do you see the technology being incorporated into mechanical watches going forward?

I believe that miniaturising electronic technology is part of a communications evolution, but I do not think that watch manufacturers will necessarily be forced to integrate connectivity; however, that does not mean that some will not consider it. To me, smartwatches are another category. We see them as being wrist-wear to a new potential clientele. We already have many ‘millennial’ collectors and can thus easily imagine that these new clients will then be delighted to discover the unique culture and universe of fine mechanical watchmaking.

Can you tell us about the Time Æon Foundation, of which you are one of the founders?

Since the beginning, Robert (Greubel; co-founder) and I knew that the knowledge that we had acquired over the years was not ours to keep, but it was part of a wider cultural heritage that needed to be passed down to future generations. However, we noticed that ancestral watchmaking techniques were already being lost and replaced by automation, and that there was no awareness to counteract this serious loss. As responsible watchmakers, we realized it was up to us to find a way to preserve, safeguard and transmit these traditional techniques for future generations. With these considerations in mind and with the support of other independent watchmakers such as Philippe Dufour and Vianney Halter, we created the foundation. The mission to represent the missing link between the past and future of fine watchmaking was thereby set in place, but it needed concrete projects in order to actively pursue its mission statement. Naissance d’une Montre was the foundation’s first major project. We are currently conducting decoration workshops around the world with the support of our partners.