Bienfacture means “supreme craftsmanship”, but you won’t find it in a French dictionary. It is a Swiss word that evokes the long winters in the watchmaking valleys that encouraged extreme attention to detail. The resulting Swiss obsession with a surfeit of quality became known as bienfacture. Bienfacture is above all the art of supreme finishing that transforms rough parts into brilliant jewellery. And if jewellery itself remains on the outskirts of fine watchmaking, the cutting of gemstones is a closely related art.
This gem-set timepiece launched Greubel Forsey on a new quest for bienfacture, working in partnership with monarchs of the world of precious gemstones to adorn the architecture of the watch with baguette cut diamonds of the finest quality (clarity IF, colour D-E).
About one and a half billion years ago and more than 150 kilometres beneath the Earth’s surface, pieces of carbon were subjected to pressures of 150 million atmospheres at temperatures of more than 1,000° C and were reborn as diamonds — crystals of pure carbon of which only 0.001% achieve the grade of IF/D-E after cutting and polishing.
Diamonds flash attention onto the action of the 24-second tourbillon. The exact refraction of a perfectly cut diamond determines its unique play of light.
Watchmaking sets much higher standards for precision than jewellery for the cut of gemstones. The diamonds set in our timepieces have to be calibrated to within a micron and adjusted like the mechanisms of a timepiece.
The 43.5mm by 16mm in white gold case is also set with baguette diamonds around the bezel and in the lugs. The stones thus become part of the structure of the case and emphasize its sculptural lines. The timepiece is set with 272 diamonds totalling 9.71 carats.
With its ocean of blued titanium and sparkling ‘white horses’ in diamonds animated by the action of the 24-second tourbillon, this new diamond-set Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain evokes a maritime theme… The eye following the track of the hands is in turn dazzled by the pavé of diamonds and mesmerized by the rotating oscillations of the tourbillon.
For this timepiece, Greubel Forsey has chosen the 24-second tourbillon inclined at 25° and beating at 21,600v/h. The two superimposed, rapid-rotation barrels, with protection against excess tension, deliver 72 hours of power. They leave space for a large fee-sprung balance and a larger tourbillon cage. The inclined carriage brings the height of the movement to 10.9mm on a diameter of 36.4mm, for 267 components and 40 jewels.