Last year we had the opportunity to see one of the more fascinating pieces that have crossed our paths in recent times, the GENUS GNS1.2, about which you can read at this link. We were clearly not alone in thinking this, as it won the Mechanical Exception prize at the GPHG 2019.
Now, following the white gold and rose gold models, GENUS have joined the increasing popularity amongst brands of using cases that are made from what I will loosely call ‘other materials’ – layered metal or (sometimes trademarked) composite materials/ alloys. We have covered some 2020 releases that fall into this category here, here, and here.
Meet the new GNS 1.2 TD. The “TD” stands for ‘Titane Damassé’, as its case is carved from a block of Damascene titanium. The most well-known proponent of watches utilising traditional hand-forged Damascus steel is, of course, GoS watches, but what GENUS have done is a different proposition.
For those who have not read my earlier post (for which there is a link in the opening paragraph) the time is read from left to right. There are twelve satellites around the periphery, one for each hour, which complete a full revolution every twelve hours. The hours are read at 9 o’clock via a fixed white pointer, using the twelve satellites. The hour numbers rotate so that they are always the right way up when you look at the watch.
The minutes are spread across two separate indicators. The open main dial of the watch is taken up by a rolling trail of twelve lumed triangles that form a figure of 8 around two blue steel discs set with numerals. This shows the applicable ‘tens of minutes’ at the ‘head’ of the (white) lead travelling indicator, called the ‘Genus’. The trailing ‘tens of minutes’ elements are called ‘genera’, and move on the figure 8-shaped path between two counter rotating wheels. At 3 o’clock is a skeletonised disc that indicates the precise minute via a white arrow pointer. All the numerals and indicators have Super-LumiNova.
Inside the 43mm sized case (with a thickness of 13.3mm) and making all of this possible is the in-house manual-wind Calibre 160W-1.2, made of 18k gold certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council. It beats at 18,800VPH and has a power reserve of 50 hours. The main base plate is in two parts – one for power/ energy storage and transmission and the other for distribution and regulation.
Now, to the crux of the new piece – the case.
Damascening is the art of forging sheets metal together, layer by layer. Each welded sheet is folded back upon itself, over and over. GENUS use the simple and useful analogy of the process of laminating dough for puff pastry. It is this process of repeated welding and folding which gives the result the characteristic ‘waves’, and why each process generates a slightly different result.
The titanium alloy used for the GNS 1.2 TD case can be forged at temperatures 300 degrees higher than for traditional iron and steel Damascus steel – between 1,200 and 1,400 degrees Celsius.
Now comes the unusual interactive part. The new owner will be invited to be a part of the final bluing-by-hand ‘flame’ stage of the material treatment and thus, can choose how intense they want the blues to be. They can also select their finishing preferences – matte, satin, or polished. Because of the combination of this personal engagement and the nature of the forged material itself, the end result after the case is cut out of the block will vary between individual watches.
The new GNS1.2 TD comes on a navy blue calf leather strap with a Damascene titanium pin buckle, but an alligator strap or a clasp are available as options as well. The RRP is CHF 145,000 (without taxes) but there is a gem-set version with the price on application. Along with the warranty, the watch will come with blockchain digital certification courtesy of the Arianee Project.
As mentioned earlier, GoS has become synonymous with the use of Damascus steel in watches. You can read about Johan Gustafsson’s pattern-welded steel in this post.
In a related vein – developed in the 17th century in Japan, Mokume-gane is the name of the traditional art wherein metal is made to look like wood grain (the term itself loosely translates to ‘wood grain metal’) through the process of fusing layers of differently coloured precious metals together to create a laminate with distinctive layered patterning. The most well known practitioner of this within watches is Kees Engelbarts, for whom it is a particular speciality.
[Photo credit: GENUS]