Usually when setting out to write an article, I do like to have familiarised myself with most of the pertinent details about the piece in the spotlight, before parking myself down to get working on it. However, as so little is actually known as yet about the seemingly disruptive technology which Greubel Forsey will unveil next week at the SIHH in Geneva, I'll just have to do what most other writers have done, and ad lib a little, and to do so before the facts are disclosed while still feeling that tinge of excitement which comes from simply not knowing what it will be!
Apart from teasing us with the words Mechanical Nano, and a couple of helpful (but not much more than that) CAD images, Greubel Forsey have been keeping their cards very close to their chest, but one thing is for sure; Mechanical Nano is going to be the talk of the show, and for long after it's exhibitors have packed up and moved on.
Somehow, using horological sorcery (at which, in fairness, Greubel Forsey have proven themselves to be quite the masters), they have apparently taken a surgeon's lancet to the essential organs of the mechanical movement, and whipped out most of its innards, replacing them with a teeny little secret transplant.
If the traditional mechanical movement, which has a visibly obvious lineage which quite literally spans back more than three centuries, can be loosely compared to the combustion engine, then Greubel Forsey's Mechanical Nano system could be seen as some kind of alien power cell, as imagined by a Gerry Armstrong (he of Thunderbirds) type individual.
For one thing, Mechanical Nano is really small. Nestling up beside the barrel, which now looks almost lonely, whatever’s going on inside its housing contains a works which has negated the need for the train of gears and wheels which are de rigeur for any mechanical watch. There is no visible regulating organ of balance and escapement to be seen either. This is very peculiar.
The only clue to what is actually inside is a little component with cupped arms, which looks for all the world like an anemometer (the old fashioned method of measuring wind speed). Completely foreign to any watch part seen before, it’s central to the harnessing of air turbulence to generate energy (I think).
And regarding that energy, we are looking at a reserve of 180 days from this tiny invention - and that’s not a late night typo. We are being promised a mechanism which you’ll (if you’re presumably as rich as Croesus) be winding about twice a year.
So I hope you’ll forgive my somewhat speculative attempt to describe how this intriguingly confusing module appears, and how it really might represent a Jetson’s age shape of things to come!