Last year Greubel Forsey — makers of some of the most exquisitely finished, and exquisitely technical watches — released the GMT Sport, a marked stylistic change of pace from their typical contemporary dress fair. With its asymmetric titanium case and rubber strap, this was a ne plus ultra of the genre, showcasing many of Greubel Forsey’s trademarks, like the 24-second, 25-degree tourbillon, the titanium globe and yes, that peerless finishing.
In fact, the GMT Sport might have lead followers of the brand to ask — where will Greubel Forsey’s athletic inclinations lead next? Well, today that question was answered with the Balancier S (The ‘S’ is for sport).
We’ll talk about the movement and its architecture in a second, but — and this is unusual for a Greubel Forsey — those details are likely not front of mind. That honour goes to the extraordinary case. Measuring 45mm across and 13.75mm high, this titanium case, like the more complex GMT Sport presents viewers with an optical illusion. From the top down it looks like a perfect circle, but come at it from an angle, and you see just what sort of engineering wizardry you’re dealing with, as the ovoid variable geometry of the bezel and that curved sapphire crystal come into play. That bezel is made even more remarkable with its winding line of almost monumental text, literally inscribing the values and philosophy of the atelier.
But sticking to more mundane matters, the case is rated to 100m, and features unusual rubber elements on the caseband and crown. The strap is also rubber and features a quick release. The caseback is open, and, while filled predominantly with bridges, still manages to be a masterful example of the watchmaking art, with frosted titanium bridges, exquisite bevelling and countersunk chatons.
If the back of the watch provides a hint of the excellence of the movement, the front really gives the game away. While this movement is comparatively simple for Greubel Forsey, showing hours, minutes, seconds and a power reserve indicator, along with an oversized 12.6mm balance wheel which, along with the rest of the escapement is inclined at 30 degrees. And while few would argue that the Balancier S is an exercise in design minimalism, the open dial allows plenty of room for each element to shine on its own. From the dramatic suspended-arc bridge, the text-heavy barrel, the power reserve and even the gauge-like small seconds. But, as with all Greubel Forsey movements its the escapement that steals the show, large and slow, the inclined design is intended to improve chronometric performance.
At a certain level, dazzling with technique and complication isn’t too difficult. To do the same on what is fundamentally an uncomplicated sports piece, well, that’s a whole other level of confidence and quality. And that’s what you’re looking at on the Greubel Forsey Balancier S.
Hand-wound movement; hours, minutes and small seconds; power reserve indicator, 30-degree inclined balance-wheel system; 72-hour power reserve
Case and dial
Case in titanium with rubber; 45mm at bezel; height 13.75mm, three-dimensional, variable geometry-shaped bezel, rated to 100m
Rubber with titanium folding clasp
CHF 195,000 (before taxes)