The enigmatic serpentine time-telling train from 2019 is on track – Introducing the amazing hat-trick wonder, the new Genus GNS1.2 TD
William Hogarth, an English painter, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist once said, “The serpentine line, or the line of grace, by its waving and winding at the same time different ways, leads the eye in a pleasing manner along the continuity of its variety.” If you carefully observe the new Genus GNS1.2 TD, you will see this quote come alive in all its glory; the serpentine line is represented by the ‘genera’ or the flexible chain made of 12 linked elements that goes around the ‘analemma orbits’ or the rotating minute rings in a figure of 8 pattern. This travelling chain or train works in sync with the peripheral twelve discs or satellites that denote the 12 hours to tell the time. The winding at the same time of both these elements in different ways is what leads the eye in a pleasing manner along the journey to decode time like never before.
Let’s see if you are as intrigued by this new releases as much as we are? The new Genus GNS1.2 TD pulls a horological hat-trick: it tells time with a unique free-flowing display; it’s a wristwatch sans dials or hands; and is made from a rare material, Damascene Titanium. The latter is a rare material in the world of Haute Horlogerie, that is 40% lighter but three times as hard as steel, and is the result of hammering and folding of layer upon layer of titanium. Fun fact: according to the brand has been used in the Japanese art of Mokume-gane, the method used for making katana sword blades since the 17th century. Intrigued yet? So were we when we first discovered this iteration of the 2019 GPHG winning gem.
The Genus GNS1.2 won last year’s Mechanical Exception Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) awards. This release was split into two iterations based on the case material — the GNS1.2 WG and the GNS1.2 RG — that brought with it the force of ten years of research, two inventions and two patents. As the moniker denotes, one was created in rose gold, and the other in white gold. Besides the materials, they were essentially the same: 43mm diameter and 13.1mm thick, both featured the calibre 160W-1.2 (or 160R-1.2) that consists of a whopping 418 components.
Instead of using dials and hands in the conventional manner, the brand instead decided to go its own way: on the periphery of the dial are twelve discs or satellites, denoting the 12 hours. Any OCD sufferer will be relieved to note that each satellite makes a quarter rotation every three hours so that the numerals are aligned vertically. This is somewhat like the wandering hours complication in watches like the Arnold & Son Golden Wheel or the Gorilla Watches Fastback GT Drift for instance. As you would have guessed it, within a 24-hour day cycle, this disc rotates twice. At 9’o clock is a fixed white arrow — I would have preferred a different colour and legibility is a perceivable issue here but the hour numbers are moulded in SuperLuminova™ that thankfully counter the lack of legibility on this dial — that points to the current hour.
The reference GNS1.2 TD features the manual winding calibre 160W-1.2. The 38mm diameter and 7.7mm thick movement features 418 components, 26 rubies, beats at the low frequency of 2.5Hz (18’000 A/h), and boasts of a decent 50-hour power reserve. It is encased inside a 43mm diameter and 13.1mm thick Titane Damassé or Damascene Titanium case and covered on both sides with a sapphire crystal with antireflective coating. The crown at 3’o clock is also made from Damascene titanium, featuring the letters G-E-N-U-S in relief around its circumference. The watch features a water-resistance of 30m (3 ATM) only.
The usual and intriguing watch face shows the functions of hours and minutes only, no seconds or date. The minutes, however, have been further divided into ‘Tens-of-minutes’ and ‘Units of minutes’.
The hour is displayed at 9’o clock via the 12 satellites/peripheral and axial rotation indexes while the ‘Tens-of-minutes’ are depicted in the centre of the dial with the aide of 12 free-moving components that circulate between 2 counter-rotating wheels. Finally the ‘Units of minutes’ are depicted at 3’o clock with a cut-away disc and an arrow pointer. All numbers and indexes are in-filled with SuperLuminova™.
The new Genus GNS1.2 TD comes on a navy blue, hand-stitched calf leather strap with folded edges on a pin buckle in damascene titanium with the Genus logo. Owners have the choice of choosing alligator straps on folder clasps as well.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
There is a not to like in this watch, legibility concerns aside. In fact, I am going to ignore any concerns I have about the readability of the watch face, because let’s face it, it’s not a conventional timepiece, but more of an expression of kinetic art for the wrist. Though that said the lume shots in darkness are amazing, but I tend to wear my watches more in daylight. Anyway, innovative is what it is, and so to give credit where it’s due, I am going to focus on what this brings to the horological table instead.
I like, especially when watched or imagined in a sped-up motion, the rotating and peripheral display of the hour satellites, and the passage of the ‘genera’ (multiple of genus) from one analemma orbit to the other. The ‘genera’ is the flexible chain made of 12 linked elements that goes around the ‘analemma orbits’ or the rotating minute rings in a figure of 8 pattern.
This is what lends a serpentine appeal to the watch, and for me, it comes alive in motion here. After all, the very basis of time appreciation is the fact that mechanisms tick, they breathe so to speak, and having a very visceral, tangible element strapped to the wrist that denotes time very differently is intriguing and interesting to me. No, I will not swap out the Audemars Piguet Millenary I am wearing as I write this article because that 2004 39mm version to me essentially means telling the time conventionally in all its purity — big, bold Arabic numerals on a stark black dial provide for exceptional legibility — but I would still shower praise at the new Genus GNS1.2 TD because their efforts are commendable in creating something new and extraordinary. Different strokes for different folks but man if I had every watch that I have wanted to acquire in lifetime quest for collecting watches, I would definitely add the new Genus GNS1.2 TD to my collection.
The Watch That Keeps on Giving
And for those of you for whom this hat-trick trick is not enough, the watch also marks a fourth achievement: the introduction of the digital certification of all Genus timepieces. Based on blockchain technology, something similar to Breitling’s recent route, this has been brought about as an effective and modern means of combating counterfeiting and guaranteeing authenticity for the owner due to the use of a forgery-proof digital identity, or a ‘Digital Passport’.
Want even more out of this watch? How about a fifth addition to the watch’s uniqueness: the bespoke customisation. Since each part of the new Genus GNS1.2 TD’s casing is cut at an angle to achieve a unique appearance, the brand is inviting prospective owners to attend the ‘damascene revelation’ by open flame at the Genus workshop in Geneva. Here the owner will be able to intervene directly in the colouring process as well as decide on a particular surface finish: matte, satin or polished. Not only that, the orientation of the ‘genera’ — the hallmark free-moving elements that flow in a pattern to indicate the tens-of-minutes — can now be personalised; the orientation can be either be set straight or inclined depending on the owner’s personal preference.
How about some adding some more elements to this burgeoning list of features of the new GNS1.2 TD. The movement features its main plate and bridges in 18K gold that the connoisseurs will appreciate has been obtained through an ecologically and socially responsible supply chain, certified by the RJC (Responsible Jewellery Council). Not only that, the use of gold intrinsically lends to the watch a certain degree to anti-magnetism.
And even if you don’t care about any of that, aesthetically, the gold lends itself beautifully to add to the finishing of the watch’s movement. This movement is also at par with what one has come to expect from watches that lay claim to the Haute Horlogerie title.
The escapement bridge has been mirror-polished, along with the two arrow indicators that show the hours (at 9’o clock) and minute units (at 3’o clock). As a side note, again the legibility takes a big hit here. Coming back to the decorations, the plate and the three bridges are micro-beaded, creating a matte effect that allows the glossy finishes to stand out against a contrasting background. All their edges have been bevelled and polished.
So there you have it; a collector’s watch that’s got everything that a collector might want to add to their collection: a limited piece; an exclusive, bespoke touch; beautifully finished; featuring a unique way of telling the time; and encased inside the Damascene Titanium material that’s very rare in horology.
Oh, and if you have read this still wondering how to tell the time, in the photo below it’s 8.08. The way to read that is: at 9’o clock the arrow points to 8. The leading pointer arrow of the serpentine ‘genera’ — the flexible chain made of 12 linked elements — is just before 10 in the central top rotating minute ring. So that indicates the time is within the ‘zero to ten minutes’ of the eighth hour. To get the precise and exact minute of the minutes, you have to read the minute units indicator at 3’o clock, that in the below picture points to 8. Hence, the time is 8.08.
The brand’s co-founders Sébastien Billières and Catherine Henry should be proud; in the world dominated by the likes of MB&F, Harry Winston Opus Series and Urwerk, there is a new kid in town. The kinetic watchmaking scene and the Haute Horlogerie world of fine watches just got a whole lot more interesting. Never a dull day in the world of horology I say.
To find out more about this CHF 145’000 watch, head to their website here. All images/video: courtesy © Copyright Genus.