As 2024 heralds the Chinese Year of the Dragon, beginning February 10th, Swiss independent brand GENUS unveils not just one, but an entire family of Dragons, rich in colors and materials, offering a myriad of mesmerizing combinations.
Shrouded in myth and power, the dragon – an evolution of the primal serpent – soars and slithers through our imagination. It is a creature of fiery might and benevolent wisdom, a symbol of eternal mystery. This enigmatic being has captivated GENUS, inspiring a journey of creative exploration since 2021, where each interpretation breathes new life into this legendary icon.
Dragons in fluid motion, gracefully charting time’s journey
Entirely designed, developed and assembled in its workshop in Geneva, Switzerland, the GENUS DRAGON is the world’s first and only watch to feature an articulated dragon expressing the passage of time. The elements indicating the tens-of-minutes take on the shape of the mythical creature, revealing the flexibility and evolutivity of this singular caliber.
Conceived, developed, and assembled in its Geneva workshop, the GENUS DRAGON emerges as the world’s inaugural timepiece to animate an articulated dragon that manifests the flow of time. In this unique creation, the indicators for the tens-of-minutes transform into the mythical creature, exemplifying the caliber’s innate capacity for evolution and adaptability.
The GENUS DRAGONS range offers a vast array of variations, appealing to a clientele as diverse as their cultural backgrounds and their fascination with this legendary creature.
In this spirit, each piece can be personalized, allowing the future owner to leave their mark through choices in aesthetics and finishes, from bespoke engraving to special color schemes and gem-setting…
GENUS DRAGON’s many personas are expressed in a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors, from the fiery red of passion to the tranquil blues of serenity, interspersed with shades of green and turquoise. Shape-shifting, from smooth waves to sharp lines, they mirror a tapestry of complexities. Drawing from a myriad of traditions, they impart each dragon with its own unique hue, creating a dazzling cultural mosaic. Distinct from another by the myth they transport, some illuminated by sacred stars, others by ancestral symbols, they weave a rich spiritual fabric. Together, these diverse personalities unite to form a collection where each piece contributes to a captivating and vibrant tableau.
Indeed, throughout ages and cultures, dragons have captivated the human imagination, symbolizing enigmatic and often contradictory forces. Their portrayal varies greatly across civilizations: In China, the dragon represents peace, wisdom, and prosperity; in European mythology, it is often depicted as a fierce guardian of treasures or an embodiment of malevolence to be vanquished.
In medieval legends, knights braved formidable dragons to rescue princesses or liberate entire realms. Nordic dragons, for instance, were portrayed as colossal and wise entities, frequently linked to knowledge and prophecy. The ubiquity of these fantastical beings in stories and art underscores their unique role in our collective psyche, embodying the shared beliefs and aspirations of humanity through the ages.
When the golden serpent soars
To fully capture the essence of this creature, GENUS has chosen to make it not merely a subject of depiction, but a true source of inspiration, giving rise to a multitude of Dragons. Each one embodies a distinct personality, as diverse as the array of beliefs they represent.
White, yellow or pink gold, green, dark blue, turquoise, red… The dragons are neither painted nor passive; on the contrary, they are in constant motion, ‘alive’ courtesy of the genera – GENUS’s invention of free-moving elements to indicate the tens-of-minutes – that, in this particular iteration, take the form of a dragon’s body. Here, eleven hand-sculpted, hand-decorated and hand-engraved segments glide along the trajectory of an analemma, the singular hallmark of a GENUS timepiece.
Haute Horlogerie, mechanical engineering, artistic goldsmithing, sculpture and hand engraving
GENUS has crafted a unique interplay among diverse disciplines, navigating between technical challenges and aesthetic intent.
The result is unparalleled artistry in horology: A dragon, that mythical symbol of supernatural power and wisdom, swerves across the watch face in a dance of time. Not merely as decoration, but fulfilling a key role in telling time. Its sinuous body is sculpted from 18K gold, as are the core components of a movement that continually reveals GENUS’s engineering originality and creative flair.
After introducing a new way of telling time in 2019 – a feat recognized that same year by the Prix de l’Exception Mécanique, the Mechanical Exception Prize, at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) – and in 2020 presenting a watch carved from a block of Damascus titanium, the brand continues to explore the infinite possibilities of its free and orbital indications – and push boundaries.
It follows that the complex, fluid nature of GENUS’s display of the passage of time would find a new expression in the most powerfully evocative of all mythical creatures, the dragon. The GENUS DRAGON watch sets in motion a serpent with chiselled scales, the fusion of precious sculpture and mechanical architecture. In this work of kinetic horology, the dragon weaves its way through time, its head indicating the tens-of-minutes that pass in each hour.
1 – A Distinctive Aesthetic
Within the extensive iconography of dragons, GENUS has selected a graphic interpretation that resonates far beyond the traditional reaches of Chinese culture. GENUS’s rendition of the dragon is elongated and slender, wingless yet capable of flight, distinguished by a bearded maw and whiskers.
Choosing the dragon
In the vast array of symbolism surrounding the dragon, GENUS has positioned itself at the intersection of strength and wisdom. Consequently, the dragon’s visage is designed with a benevolent and contemplative expression, eschewing any hint of aggression.
Rooted in Earth’s ancient civilizations and associated with Fire in European lore, the Asian dragon is intertwined with the element of Water. The fluid motion of the genera within the timepiece naturally evokes that of a dragon, a connection that ultimately made it a logical choice for GENUS.
Mindful of achieving realism, GENUS overcame a number of challenges to give the dragon a pronounced physicality. Bringing out the dorsal crest like a fluid wave has the effect of enhancing the creature’s presence through its proportions and contours. The dragon’s design is elongated, featuring a slender head and well-proportioned legs. GENUS masterfully puts this kinetic sculpture on display under a sapphire crystal with a pronounced dome, creating a perfect observation platform. It is a design that invites you to marvel at the dragon in its habitat, watch its movements, and be captivated by its intricate dance.
2 – Magical Savoir-faire
Among the various execution techniques available in the world of watchmaking, GENUS chose the form that is most challenging, expressive and precious: Sculpting 18K gold into eleven segments that move freely yet cohesively one behind the other and together bring a captivating creature to life.
To imbue it with an unmistakable artistic and artisanal quality, each segment of the dragon’s body is delicately crafted and engraved by hand. GENUS’s dedication to exceptional craftsmanship is evident in the attention to every detail – its body, scales, limbs, claws, and head adorned with playful horns, a beard, tongue, and expressive eyes, all finished to the highest levels characteristic of Haute Horlogerie. Every piece has been crafted with the utmost precision and care.
Complexities of mythical proportions
Sébastien Billières had initially estimated the technical development phase to last at most 3 to 4 months. As it turned out, modeling the miniature mythical dragon alone took over a year of intense effort.
Showcasing the virtuoso precision with which age-old Métiers d’Art – “Artistic Crafts”, i.e. crafts that have ascended to art forms – have been applied, the dragon seems perpetually in motion. This dynamic is the result of an intricate articulation between the caliber and the segments, as well as between the segments themselves. Moreover, their trajectory follows a complex path, neither linear nor circular, that intersects with itself. GENUS’s watchmaking ingenuity is expressed in the movement along an analemma, embodying infinity in a figure-eight design.
Gliding to and fro, rotating left and right, tracing diagonals and curves – the way the elements move, separately and in procession, at varying speeds depending on where they are on their journey, was studied at length. Each segment is unique in weight, shape, and height, enhancing the illusion of unrestrained movement. This culminates in a lifelike undulation, most vividly observed along the dragon’s spinal crest.
A magical interplay of light and motion
Creating each dragon is akin to an automaton in the great tradition of art mechanics, a mechanical creature born from the collaborative efforts of engineers, watchmakers, goldsmiths, sculptors, and engravers. Together, they strike a delicate balance between mechanical constraints and aesthetic vision.
Rigor and precision are paramount at each step throughout the entire process of creating the dragon. Each segment of the dragon’s body is given a precise volume and dimensions. The head is particularly intricate: It is composed of six elements, each carved and engraved separately. This meticulous artistry also allows the meandering dragon to smoothly weave its orbital path in a captivating dance.
Achieving the perfect blend of lightness and expressiveness requires that the movement and the dragon be completely assembled, disassembled and reassembled – not once but three times. And each time, surfaces and textures are further refined. The result is an interplay of light and motion rehearsed to perfection, deserving of a worthy stage. That the GENUS DRAGON’s case is crafted in the finest metal – 18K gold, Grade 5 titanium or Damascus titanium – should thus come as no surprise. GENUS went a step further, specifically altering the dimensions of the sapphire crystal for this series. Elevated and with an accentuated dome shape, it creates a perfectly proportioned showcase on the wrist, giving both the dragon and the beholder’s gaze more room to roam.
3 – A Caliber, Transfigured
The GENUS DRAGON shares its heart with the inaugural GNS1.2 watch, though here, intriguingly, a dragon’s head indicates the tens-of-minutes. This enchanting emergence of a dragon between crystal and
movement builds upon the same robust technical foundation as GENUS’s previous creations, the 160W 1.2 caliber. In this novel incarnation, the genera – the mobile elements that form the tens-of-minutes display – take on a visually powerful and emotionally evocative form, further demonstrating the flexibility and adaptability of this distinctive horological creation.
The architecture of the 160W-1.2 caliber reveals an essential aspect of the GENUS project: A degree of freedom, flexibility and capacity to evolve that stems from a modular construction with two separate but complementary systems. The first, described as the foundational movement, groups the essential functions, including a single barrel. It provides 50 hours of power reserve, which is considerable given the caliber’s complexity and the masses set in motion. The second, the display complication module, sits atop the other and manages the display of hours, tens-of-minutes and single minutes.
Entirely designed, developed and assembled in its Geneva workshop, the GENUS DRAGON is the world’s first and only timepiece to animate an articulated dragon to express the passage of time. The elements indicating the tens-of-minutes take on the shape of the mythical creature, showcasing the flexibility and capacity for evolution of this unique caliber.
The mainplate and bridges are crafted from gold sourced via an eco- and socio-responsible supply chain, certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). Each component of the 160W-1.2 caliber is hand-designed and hand-finished by watchmakers adhering to the stringent standards of Haute Horlogerie. The movement’s – 390 components – meticulous finishing includes a polished anchor bridge, mainplate and bridges hand-microblasted for contrast, and beveled, polished edges that multiply the playing fields for light reflections, all contributing to the caliber’s unique aesthetic allure.
The flight of the dragon
Behind GENUS’s singular display lay a decade of gestation and three years of intensive development to overcome a seemingly never-ending series of formidable challenges. Two main features of the GNS caliber have led to patent applications: the rotating, peripheral display of the hour satellites, and the mechanics of the genera transitioning, as if balancing on the outer rim of a wheel, from one focus of the analemma to the other.
On the GENUS DRAGON, the genera become segments of a dragon’s body. Ensuring they smoothly track around the analemma’s foci presented a particular challenge. They each need to be kept in place yet always free-moving so the procession, as a whole, can seamlessly traverse from one section of the display to the other. Here, however, the segments not only vary in size, but also in weight. Made from 18K gold (which is much weightier than the brass and steel used in watchmaking), and thus significantly heavier than the customary genera, the segments making up the dragon posed new challenges in terms of energy consumption and friction that needed to be overcome. GENUS’s design ensures they are amply met by the caliber’s powertrain, delivering on its promise of reliability, precision, and power to manage these additional loads.