In the esoteric world of haute horlogerie, provenance and heritage are considered key defining aspects of a brand’s worthiness to belong. Strictly going by this essential measure, Greubel Forsey, which was launched in 2004, should be looked down upon in the rarefied circle of legacy marques as an insignificant upstart. However, the Swiss greenhorn is today among a handful of partner brands at Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), rubbing shoulders with brands steeped in tradition such as Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Bovet and A. Lange & Söhne. This is because, in the relatively short period of its existence, Greubel Forsey has managed to excel in some of the finest and most difficult feats in watchmaking that are considered essential to haute horlogerie. From putting together astronomical complications, tourbillons, sonneries and perpetual calendars to hand-finishing, engraving, and decorating, the boutique brand has demonstrated its mettle in every aspect of fine watchmaking.
The independent brand (the Richemont Group’s 20% stake has been bought back recently by founding shareholders Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey) has now introduced the latest version of its radically designed GMT timepieces. Last year’s GMT Quadruple Tourbillon of Titanium was an incredible example of high-end watchmaking, but Greubel Forsey now takes it to the next level with the limited-edition GMT Balancier Convexe.
The new watch, unveiled at the recent Geneva Watch Days, sees the
intricately hand-painted titanium terrestrial globe take centre stage. Placed at the heart of an amphitheatre-like sub-dial, the three-dimensional globe moves in a constant 24-hour rotation, just as the Earth rotates in real life. The level of craftsmanship that has gone into creating the globe is extraordinary, showing the continents and oceans in great detail. The three outer rings of the amphitheatre indicate the hours and minutes of local time as well as GMT or universal time. The 24 key time zones of the world are listed and demarcated using a black background for night and a white background for day. A second 12-hour subdial with a blue gold hand offset to the side functions as a second time zone indicator.
These complex moving parts are all precisely powered by a new manual movement that is set to be Greubel Forsey’s signature movement for all its GMT watches from now on. The throbbing heart of the timepiece is seen in all its glory thanks to the openworked dial within the curved 46.5mm titanium case. The 30-degree inclined balance wheel, seemingly suspended in mid-air, is held by a flat polished steel balance wheel bridge on polished steel pillars. The hand-wound movement has 423 parts and holds power for 72 hours operating at a frequency of 21 600 vibrations per hour.
With all these trappings, it would be silly to imagine the Greubel Forsey GMT Balancier Convexe to come with an austere price tag. So, $400,000 on a rubber strap and $445,000 on a titanium bracelet seem to be just about right for this remarkable piece of high horology. Just 66 pieces will ever be made, at a rate of 22 per year, between 2022 and 2024.