Three Reasons Why the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture Is One of the Best Watches in the WorldBy Wei Koh
OK, this is what you need to understand about Greubel Forsey. In the realm of ultra high-end watchmaking, it is largely unrivaled for three reasons. The first is that technically the watches express an incredible horological authenticity. What do I mean by this? It’s simple. Everything that the geniuses who are Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey has pursued from inclined escapements and balance wheels, to fast rotating tourbillon cages and multiple axis tourbillon cages with inclined balance wheels, to two inclined balance wheels with rates averaged by a differential mechanism, to constant force devices — all are for one reason. That is to further the fundamental horological pursuit of accuracy in a wristwatch. This is exactly the same goal as all the greatest watchmakers of the 18th century who plied their trade focused on clocks, marine chronometers and pocket watches. But their ambition was the same; it was to make a better watch. I love the fact that back in 2019, Greubel entered and won the last edition of the Concours International de la Chronométrie just to prove that their watches are truly chronometric in design and intent. In a world that is full of cool-looking watches with spinning, whirling oscillators, a true focus on real watchmaking separates the men from the boys.
When it comes to the new Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture, even though it is a mind-blowing, cool, game-changing scorchingly sexy timepiece the likes of which the world had never seen, what you should understand is that its fundamental raison d’être is purely horological. Why incline a balance wheel at 25 degrees? This is to minimize the times that the oscillator will find itself in the pure vertical — the position which is the worst for concentric breathing of the hairspring and friction on the escapement. In contrast, for a traditional watch with a deployant clasp, setting it on its side essentially places the balance in a vertical position for as long as you leave it there. Why have the tourbillon cage rotate every 24 seconds? Well, the faster the revolution of your cage, the more frequently the errors created by gravity are averaged or compensated for. To me, it’s perfectly fine if you want to buy this absolutely stellar watch simply for its design — which we will discuss later — but I also want you to know that the asking price of the watch is ultimately reflective of real horological innovation and, of course, the crazy level of hand finish.
This brings us to reason number two as to why Greubel Forsey kicks so much ass, and that is, nowhere else in all of watchmaking save at Philippe Dufour will you find an equal level of hand finishing. What is unique about Greubel is that, unlike Dufour, they are advancing the language of hand finishing. Check out the gratté finish in the handmade watch. There is just one woman in Switzerland (she happens to run the finishing workshop at Greubel) who is capable of this. Greubel is also progressing with new types of finish and in many ways challenging itself to be better. And that is precisely the case in the new mind-blowing Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture.
This is perfectly expressed by my friend Ong Ban, CEO of Sincere Watch Limited, exclusive partner of Greubel Forsey in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, “When you spend the asking price of a Greubel Forsey, that’s because you are paying a price that reflects the incredible technical innovation combined with the highest level of hand finish in the Swiss watch industry. The new Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture is just that. If you look at how the bridges are curved, you understand that Greubel Forsey had to develop a new technique to apply mirror polishing to grade 5 titanium bridges. This has never been done before. A totally three-dimensional titanium movement with this kind of finish is unheard of. Already just to polish grade 5 titanium on a flat surface is something that 99 percent of brands won’t even attempt because it is so difficult. Now, understand that Greubel has intentionally given themselves one of the greatest challenges in hand finishing: to mirror polish titanium on a curve, meaning an ever-changing radius. This is absolutely crazy. And it’s only Greubel Forsey, with the largest team of hand finishing artisans in all of independent watchmaking and the greatest experience in this field, that could accomplish this.”
What exactly is the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture? Well, it’s just about the most beautiful tourbillon I’ve set eyes on this year. The name of the watch comes from the fact that the entirely grade 5 titanium movement is an architectural revelation. It essentially takes the concept of skeletonization into the third dimension. What you see looking at the watch is, of course, the famous Greubel Forsey 24-second tourbillon inclined at 25 degrees, and the equally iconic barrel housing the watch’s mainspring. Both of these are suspended on three-dimensional curved bridges that seemingly emerge from nowhere to reach through space and appear in front of our eyes. Says Antonio Calce, Greubel Forsey’s CEO, executive board member and shareholder, “This new caliber embodies all Greubel Forsey codes and signatures such as the exceptional quality and finishing on each and every geometrical components but also one of the 7 Fundamental Inventions invention, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes. This timepiece has a lot of depth, volume with a tri-dimensional architectural movement and highlights the true excellence of Greubel Forsey! The Tourbillon 24 Seconds is synonym of true creativity.”
Which brings me to the third reason that Greubel Forsey is poised to be the hottest brand in all of watchmaking: It has the best design around. Look at this watch, or the Double Balancier Convexe or the Balancier Convexe S2 — all launched this year — and you will see watches with unrivaled visual richness. These are watches that will draw your attention from across the room. When your eyes lock on them, you will be compelled like a tractor beam towards them. And when you hold them in your hand or put them on your wrist, you will be lost in the sublime microcosm contained within.
What cannot be denied is that since coming to the helm of Greubel Forsey, Greubel Forsey’s CEO, executive board member and shareholder Antonio Calce has asserted a high degree of design sensitivity, and this has resulted in some of the sexiest watches ever made. The case of the Architecture is conical. Its bezel is 45.5mm in diameter while it bulges out at the caseband to 47mm to perfectly house the movement. The mid-case, incidentally, is made of one solid sapphire crystal ring, meaning you can view the movement of this incredible watch from the front, back and the sides. It also means that light enters this masterpiece unimpeded to create dazzling reflections on the high polished curved grade 5 titanium bridges of the tourbillon, barrel and power reserve indicator, while the small seconds indicator is mounted on a titanium cylinder with shimmering high polished flanks, all resulting in a watch that is, without a doubt, one of the most majestic timepieces ever created.
Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture
Movement: Manual winding Greubel Forsey caliber; 90-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours and minutes, small seconds and 24-second tourbillon
Case: 47mm (caseband diameter) and 45mm (bezel diameter); grade 5 titanium; water resistant to 50m
Dial: Three-dimensional with variable geometry hour ring; Super-LumiNova filled indexes
Strap: Black rubber; titanium folding clasp
Price: SGD 706,200
Availability: Limited edition of 11 pieces in 2022; thereafter, limited to 18 pieces per year worldwide from 2023 to 2025