One of the heaviest hitters in independent watchmaking, and also a staple at SIHH has just announced a rather groundbreaking timepiece. Greubel Forsey, with their impressively finished timepieces and complications that appear to have the capability to warp space time itself, have successfully produced one of the highest pursuits in horology — the grande sonnerie — at the end of 11 years long years of labor.
What is a grande sonnerie? Think of it as an alarm watch that’s able to chime out every passing hour in two different modes. The first mode: grande sonnerie, chimes the hours and quarters in passing and repeats the hour at each quarter.
Mode two: petite sonnerie, chimes out the hours in passing without repeating the hours at every quarter.
But that’s not all. For a watch to be considered a complete grande sonnerie it must be able to perform a third function, which is that it must work as a minute repeater that is able to chime out the hour and quarters past, on demand.
If all of that sounds like it makes for a very complicated mechanism that’s because it is a very complicated mechanism, one which not too many watchmakers have attempted to date.
The Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie for instance is composed of no less than 935 parts. The thing you must understand is that every part consequently forms a possible point of fault. Therefore, the more parts the more possible points of fault. As such, 935 suddenly starts to look like a scary number rather than an impressive one. It also becomes apparent now why not too many brands would’ve attempted a grande sonnerie timepiece.