As if the superlative multi-tourbillon watches that Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey typically produce weren’t enough, the pair have teamed up with artist Willard Wigan to create Art Piece 1. The watch houses both a Greubel Forsey 30 degree double-tourbillon and a Wigan microsculpture that you can admire through a magnifier in the crown at 9 o’clock. Sometimes we talk about timepieces being works of art, but the Art Piece 1 pushes this to a whole new level.
British artist Willard Wigan might not be a household name, but in the art world he is something of a legend and he was presented a knighthood by Prince Charles in 2007. For decades Wigan has been making sculptures that fit on the heads of pins and inside the eyes of needles, with some being even smaller than a human red blood cell. Pretty crazy, right? Even more intense is how he has to craft these tiny objects – using tools like diamond shards and hairs from house flies, Wigan shapes them under a microscope during the time between his own heartbeats to avoid shaking. And one of these sculptures sits inside the Art Piece 1.
Along with Wigan’s sculpture is one of Greubel Forsey’s signature 30 degree double tourbillons. The interior cage, which is the one tilted at 30 degrees, rotates once per minute, while the outer cage sits parallel with the dial and completes a rotation every four minutes. A massive curved bridge holds the double tourbillon suspended between the sapphire crystal and caseback, and you can see right through it. Cliche aside, the execution here is something you really need to see to appreciate
The dial itself is a beautiful blue color and the mainplate (visible through the sapphire caseback) is engraved with the names of the three artists involved here: Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey, and Willard Wigan. A 72-hour power reserve indicator for the tourbillon sits around 4 o’clock. Just above this is a plate that reads “GF Art Piece 1,” and when you push the button at 4 o’clock on the case, the plate moves aside and that red arrow points to the time on a 12-hour disc. The time is only there when you need it, letting Wigan’s sculpture and the tourbillons take all the attention.
The real treat comes from looking through magnifier at 9 o’clock, which is styled to look like a second crown. You’ll notice a dark blue bridge supporting what looks like a speck of gold from the dial-side, but looking through the 23x magnifier set into the crystal, you can see Wigan’s sculpture crisply and clearly. Here we have a three mast galleon that seems to be sailing across the blue support. All the open-working allows tons of light in, letting you get a great look at the sculpture without any artificial assistance.
As you would expect, very few pieces of the Art Piece 1 will be made, each containing an entirely unique microsculpture from Wigan. This “Golden Sails” edition is for sale under $2 million, though official pricing is only available upon request.