After inventing a new way of telling time, without dials or hands, GENUS introduces a timepiece in Damascene Titanium. It is a rare material in Haute Horlogerie. An ancient technique that involves a savoir-faire as challenging as it is subtle. It is called Mokume-gane in Japan, where the method has been used for making katana sword blades since the 17th century.
In the heart of the forge, the hammering and folding of layer upon layer of titanium is a craft reserved for the best. Three times as hard as steel, titanium is also wrought at much higher temperatures, between 1200 and 1400 degrees Celsius. The hues obtained through blueing-by-hand over an open flame are unique to each watch. The buyer is welcome to attend this finishing stage and choose the intensity of the colour effects.
After introducing a new way of looking at and telling time with orbital hours and minutes, which garnered the Mechanical Exception Prize at the most recent Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), GENUS explores the world of metal artisanship. The GENUS GNS1.2 TD is carved from a block of Damascene Titanium, the work of expert metalsmithing. Thus, the complex representation of time in flux belonging to GENUS finds itself echoed by the moiré, undulating, changing appearance where colour nuances make each piece unique by the very nature of this craft. A fusion of ancestral technique and modern material, an association between creator and wearer – GENUS takes an approach to watchmaking that truly defies the conventional.
Thinking differently, combining creativity as well as singularity, leaving the beaten track, inventing instead of replicating, stretching the ingenious whilst ensuring precision, reliability, legibility and wearability: In 2019, GENUS opened the first chapter of its story with two remarkable timepieces, the GNS1.2 WG and the GNS1.2 RG. Ten years of research, two inventions and three years of development went into this watch. Two patents lay down the basic principles of the two innovative mechanisms that underpin this free-flowing time display.
One in rose gold, the other in white gold, both measuring 43 mm in diameter and 13.1 mm thick, featuring the calibre 160W-1.2 or 160R-1.2, a new movement consisting of 418 components, entirely created and manufactured by GENUS in their Geneva workshop. It is a movement characterised first and foremost by its novel complication for indicating time. No dial, no hands. GENUS quite simply invented an unprecedented way of telling time – the mechanism as dramatic performance.
The innovation behind this display complication and its underlying mechanism was imagined, technically, in a completely new and daring way. A new stone humbly brought to the edifice of Swiss horological heritage by the man who invented it, the Master watchmaker Sébastien Billières. An approach first rewarded by the recognition of his peers by the attribution of the prestigious and coveted Mechanical Exception Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in 2019.
Twelve satellites, one for each hour. They make a complete revolution along the periphery of the movement, at the crystal’s edge, once every twelve hours. The fixed white arrow on the left, in front of which the satellites scroll, points to the current hour. To remain in the reading direction, the satellites re-orient themselves and pivot 90 degrees every 3 hours, i.e. four times. The hour numbers – moulded in SuperLuminova™ and affixed to the revolving time-indicating satellites – are the result of meticulous development and design.
Since the launch last year, the months have passed each other at a breath-taking pace, and nothing is the same anymore for the small, independent GENUS team – in much the same way that a GENUS watch is unlike any other existing timepiece.
A sentiment rendered even more concrete by the fact that in 2020, GENUS is presenting a new version of the GNS1.2 in a material virtually unheard of in watchmaking: damascene titanium.
It is a new chapter in the GENUS story, in more ways than one. The presentation of the new watch is also the occasion for announcing the digital certification of all its timepieces, an effective and modern means of combating counterfeiting and guaranteeing authenticity for the owner of the timepiece throughout its lifetime.
A Damascene moment
In 2020, GENUS re-imagines the GNS by incorporating it in a new metal case. After white gold and rose gold, GENUS ventures into new territory for watchmaking with a damascened titanium case, hence the name GNS1.2 TD (Titane Damassé). Applying the Damascus smithing technique to titanium requires a rare savoir-faire. In fact, the skill is listed in the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in France. It is craftsmanship elevated to art, true artisanship, the domain of only the best metalsmiths. In Japan it is called Mokume-gane, where it has been used to forge katana sword blades since the early 17th century.
Folds within folds upon folds…
The art of damascening consists of forging sheets of metal layer by layer. After having been hammered, each sheet is folded back upon itself, and the operation is repeated as many times as necessary – one might say like preparing the laminated dough used for puff pastry. This homogeneous ‘stacking’ of homogeneous layers, each one annealed between each fold, gives the material an entirely new, very particular aspect. Each incision, each bevel into the edge of the damascened metal reveals the strata, the shapes, the undulations, the unique character of each layer.