Wednesday, January 14, 2015

World of Difference

Greubel Forsey’s world of horology revolved around the tourbillon until 2011, when the company took two different complications out for a spin.

The platinum GMT
The coveted brand broke new ground with its GMT, an exceptionally original interpretation of the traveler’s timepiece that includes a second-time zone display and rotating globe on the front, plus a 24-time zone display on the back. This year, the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based brand introduced a platinum version with contrasting black movement and dial.

Stephen Forsey, who launched the company with Robert Greubel 10 years ago, says the design represents a natural progression in their ongoing watchmaking collaboration.

“Our first three tourbillon inventions are the foundation of the collection, but we felt it was important to show enthusiasts that Greubel Forsey is not just exclusively about tourbillons. The GMT was a way to apply our thought process to a different subject,” he explains.

As you would expect from the brand that won the International Chronometry Competition in 2011, precision is a primary focus of the GMT, and the watch’s inclined tourbillon doesn’t disappoint. What may surprise some, however, is the equally obsessive attention paid to the movement’s hand finishing.

The world according to Greubel Forsey
Look no further than the watch’s signature rotating, three-dimensional globe. Forsey says it took more than a year to perfect the 13mm titanium sphere that serves as a 24-hour time zone display. “The machinist thought it would take three months to make. A year later, he was ready to throw us out of his shop,” he recalls and laughs. “The versions he made were fine, but we knew it could be better. So we kept at it, and after 18 months we finally had what we’d originally envisioned.”

Forsey adds: “What makes it difficult to reach this very high level — and it’s true for many of our watches — is that we’re on the very edge of what’s possible with the current technology.”

Looking Sharp
That unyielding desire to push forward has propelled the brand to the forefront of high horology in just 10 years and earned it a long list of distinguished awards, including the Gaïa Prize. Considered one of the highest accolades a watchmaker can receive, the honor was bestowed upon Robert and Stephen in 2009 by the Musée International d’Horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds. 

Only 22 pieces of this bi-color
version will be produced
In 2011 the company’s Double Tourbillon 30º Technique took the top prize for precision and timekeeping at the most recent International Chronometry Competition. The mechanism achieves an exceptional level of precision by combining two tourbillons cages. The first completes a rotation every four minutes, while the second — inclined at a 30-degree angle — turns once a minute.

This year, Greubel Forsey introduced a new incarnation of that award-winning timepiece called the Double Tourbillon 30º Technique Bi-Color. Its two-tone color scheme includes black ADLC-treated plates inscribed with the company’s watchmaking philosophy attached to the side of the case, which is available in either 5N red gold or platinum. Production of each version is limited to 22 pieces.

The watch's signature
double tourbillon
Look closely at the black-chrome treated plates and bridges exposed by the open architecture and one will notice sharp internal angles and crisp bevels that can only be achieved by hand-working the metal. “Even today, you can’t imitate that with a machine,” Forsey explains. “These are part of the brand’s design code, one that shows collectors very clearly that we value the beauty of hand finishing.”

But why go to all this trouble? “Because we can,” Forsey answers and laughs. “But also because these timepieces represent an ideal for Robert and myself. We set out to explore the mechanism technically, yes, but also to create something that’s reflective of watchmaking’s artisan heritage.”

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