An adventure in 2011 that changed my life.

» Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in General | 1 comment

First…I changed the dates in this story.

I had wanted to post this much earlier….but well, events over took me.

For pictures there are many:


On a quiet morning , in 2011, in the eastern hemisphere, within international waters, a privately owned amphibious plane makes a raucous landing in calm waters.

On board, with NO RELATION to the value/cost of this object, a wristwatch, were 5 potential clients.


I was not one of them, but all 5 were represented by a buyer. I was one such. My fees were in accordance with my desires :

(1)  The experience of such intrigue. I had NO IDEA where I was going, except to take a flight to Hong Kong. I knew I was hired to purchase a wristwatch, at an auction. And I was to quote a bill for 72 hours of work, sleep, food etc and expenses. I knew my “boss”, who was an ACS school chum back in 1965. He resides no longer in Singapore. He is fun and eccentric. I knew he was not involved in any kind of illegal activity.


(2) As a joke, I quoted him a sum of $100,000 USD cash, minus ALL expenses. I expected $10,000 in reality.


(3) Material to write.


It was cool and cloudy. From the sky, I recognised the unmistakeable shape of an aircraft carrier and its straight wake of water. Accompanying it, were several smaller trails of water.


Upon landing….I saw the familiar film crew of a TV documentary company I had filmed with in 2010.


There was NO briefing or instructions. Just plenty of directions on where to sit and so on, as we embarked on a short boat ride from plane to a what seemed a container vessel.


No photography allowed, and all our phones had been taken prior to the flight, we were also issued clothing before the flight. Charcoal grey suits, and each of us a colour neck tie. All of a very obvious different colour. was a container ship!!!!


Cut to where all 5 of us, with TV crew, walk into…or are bundled off to..a large, but standard container…this thing had a strange opening at the side wall of the container! Hence, we did not enter from behind, where the door usually is.


It was a off white TOTALLY carpet covered inside!!!

ALL lights were overhead and at the four corners.


A bare table and 5 beautifully leathered chairs.


Each set of chairs came with a briefcase, Cartier, and black/dark red.

Envelope that was handed to me in HKK was now to be opened, and the bloody combination numbers of the briefcase was on it.


For me. Inside, there was a lithium battery, which powered my lamp with 6 leds, microscope, and a rectangular box with a red and a blue round button. Red for NO, and blue for YES.


OK. At this point, I was ushered in to the corner for a quick make over for my face…ie powder and some highlights to cheek bones.


The object the 5 of us were to buy…was a watch. Being the year of 2011, I recognised the watch to be number 00 out of 11 Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 1.


A total of 388 parts contribute to the movement driving

the Invention Piece 1, including 128 for the double cage that weighs

just 1.17 grams.


The Invention Piece 1 was produced in a single edition comprising three

versions of 11 watches each.


A number (1+1) chosen for its symbolic value representing the Rober t Greubel

and Stephen Forsey partnership.


The game was afoot, and we were to be filmed, and you will see this programme aired in 2015, together with a few “reality” shows of this nature.


My budget, was a cool $5,000,000 USD. Issued to the owner of the watch IF I won, and pressed the BLUE button.


Now I do NOT know much of TV, but I know watches, and I am not being humble when I say that I am NOT the very best buyer, but apparently both the buyer and the channel wanted me.





Let me describe the watch:


It was a PLATINUM Greubel Forsey INVENTION PIECE 1, piece 00 in platinum. In perspective, this would rank very much above the Patek and other super brands. It had a retail price, no discounts, of $1,000,000 singapore dollars when I saw it in 2010 back in good old Singapore. Fact…I think I saw it as the SAME 00 piece?!?!



By reputation, Greubel Forsey is the opposite of Richard Mille, it is understated, hyper advanced, something that the agents of shield or batman as Bruce Wayne will wear. ie  it is for the HYPER rich, and wealthy. It has ZERO show off factor. No one will know it is expensive, but for a few nerds like me.


Bear with me as I edit some of the facts to make it readable:


The Invention Piece 1 is an original.


No argument that it is Greubel Forsey’s first fundamental invention. It is a timepiece with character. My FIRST meeting with this was in 2005, after Hamdi Chatti took over from Max Busser, and this watch became Opus 6, it then had a totally unique architecture.


Now, it is more toned down, but in my opinion, and now I do know why I was chosen, it is MUCH MORE beautiful and certainly belongs in Warehouse 13. Google this.


The Double Tourbillon Technique is a case study in precision mechanical watchmaking.


Observe the mesmerising workings of the intricately interlocking parts has been EXPENSIVELY cut into and constructed with obsessive detail to allow curious eyes to naturally view one gear to the next, enabling careful observation of each separate element, of a MORE than incredible tourbillion which moves at 4 differing speeds of rotation.


It is MUCH more than a true work of technical art




There is NOT a single once or nano gramme of exaggeration, and I am the WRONG person to say this…but trust me here, this is NOT a Richard Mille (a much less important but also beautiful work).

 black LV Box (7)

Why is it NOT like others, except possibly George Daniel’s earlier work on co axials?


This “thing”, this mechanism perpetuates and contributes to its 21st century development. Computer aided calculations and models.

This allowed, although it still took 3 to 4 YEARS, of several additional technical

elements, NO exaggeration.


Almost insipidly, admirers can enjoy the sight of the barrels rotating while winding the watch, and unwinding as it works.


On a serious note, coupled to these barrels is the differential that drives the power reserve indicator. This is an EXPENSIVE manoeuvre.

Off-centred Double Tourbillon 30°, Outer Tourbillon 4-minute rotation indicator, with an Inner Tourbillon running at a 60-second rotation indicator,

The hours and minutes display, are mounted on triangles.

Like wise, the seconds display, power-reserve indicator are small, but workable.

Unique edition of 33 pieces…you will find GOLD pieces, but NOT platinum pieces rarely back into the secondary market at HIGHLY inflated prices, unethically advertised as lower prices to entice calls.

IP1 color

ONLY 11 platinum pieces will exist. EVER.


Then, there is , to me, a beautifully relief carved message. On the back.


A powerful personal message indeed.


The Invention piece 1 is a showcase for Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey’s unique blend of technical obsession that they can out perform a quartz watch.

This coupled with superb aesthetic finishing.


The timepiece reinforces their almost insane, obsessive, but nevertheless totally reliable places to park MONEY, if you do not ever need 3 million USD urgently. Both are unarguably committed to absolute craftsmanship.

 IP1 (4)

These highly personal, but convicting, words convey Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey’s dedication to their art.


Their contribution to horological advancement through fundamental mathematical research, the sophisticated architecture of their movements and their relentless craftsmanship is over powering.

IP1 (3)

Movement dimensions • Diameter: 36.4 mm

• Thickness: 12.72 mm


Number of parts • Complete movement: 388 parts

• Tourbillon cage: 128 parts

• Weight of the cage: 1.17 g


Number of jewels 38

Olive-domed jewels in gold chatons


Power reserve 72 hours



Barrels Series-coupled fast-rotating double barrels (1 turn in 3.2 hours), equipped with a slip-spring to avoid excessive tension


Balance wheel Free sprung balance with white gold mean-time screws (10.7 mm diameter)

Frequency 21’600 vibrations/hour

Balance spring • Phillips terminal curve

• Geneva-style stud



Main Plates Spotted and frosted nickel palladium

Bridges Frosted and gold-finished nickel silver


“Message from the Inventor Watchmakers” text in relief on a gold plate


Gearing • Involute circle profile

• Conical gearing with corrected profile


Inner Tourbillon • Inclined at a 30° angle, 1 rotation per minute


Outer Tourbillon • 1 rotation in 4 minutes

 IP1 (2)

• Hand-bevelled and open-worked cage pillars

• Solid gold counterweight plate


Displays • Hours and minutes

• Small seconds

• 72-hour power reserve on a sector

 IP1 (1)



Case • In platinum with convex sapphire crystal

• Transparent back with convex sapphire crystal


• Raised engraving of the name of the Invention on a hand-punched background

• Gold security screws

• Hand-engraved individual number



Case dimensions • Diameter: 43.5 mm

• Thickness: 16.64 mm


Water resistance of the case 3 atm – 30 m – 100 ft



Crown platinum with engraved and black lacquered GF logo

Hands • Hours (red triangle) and minutes (blue triangle)

• Small seconds in flame-blued steel

• Power-reserve in flame-blued steel



Strap Hand-sewn black or brown alligator leather








There are four different rotations


The various speeds of rotation of these different elements give an

idea of the complexity of the mechanism:


Whereas the outer cage takes four minutes to perform a complete rotation and the inner

cage just 60 seconds, the double hands turn in 24 hours for the hours display and two hours for minutes.



Around the Tourbillon and its indicators, the absence of a dial reveals the frosted nickel

silver bridges coated with palladium nickel and clearly visible on three

distinct levels.


This opening provides a view of the concentric gearing, serving to drive the hour and minute indicators.

The off-centred small seconds and power-reserve displays are reminiscent of a miniature solar system.


The Opening bid came from the GREEN necktie, a lady…$1.8 million USD.


Silence. No further bids. I placed $2,000,000 USD.


I placed 3.3 million USD.




I won. Activated BLUE button.


The watch was placed with a bonded courier.

I flew back to Seletar Airbase.


This would NOT be my reward.


Fast Forward to November 28th Paris.

A dinner at a noble castle.


The presence of several watch makers, and ONE man in particular.

It was the gathering of Passion Horologie.


I was there to receive a present.


It was the CABESTAN vertical Winch Wristwatch, a $570,000 USD or so piece unique.



The MOST expensive gift I have ever received.


The adventure continues.

1 Comment

  1. Bernard Cheong

    I was later to buy the very same Invention Piece 1. At a slightly more costly price.
    Christie’s did sell a Gold piece for approximately $700,000 USD earlier.
    But the 00 numbers and the rarity of this work, convinced me.

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