When Greubel Forsey first introduced their sports line about six months back, it came as something of a surprise to most in the watch world. A manufacturer at the very zenith of the industry, known and rightly lauded for their superlative complications and movement finishing made an incisive foray into the extreme watch world with their GMT Sport.
It brought with it a new case design in the form of a beguiling elliptical shape that, from looking down on the dial of the watch, it would appear round, but oval when seen from the side. The crystal for the dial was equally shaped to add to the optical effect. The slight curvature to the titanium case allowed the watch, despite its size, to fit snuggly on the wrist. Not surprisingly, it was a sell-out success.
Following on from that first release comes the Balancier S. As with the GMT, this new watch combines sport aesthetics and performance with the highest-end haute horlogerie. It combines, very neatly and elegantly, a number of Greubel Forsey watchmaking elements without losing any of the extreme sports credentials. Once again, the same case shape and metal are in use. The subject of years of work, experimenting with form and subtle differences in curvature, strapping it to your wrist is a revelation.
The Balancier S melds to your arm in such a way that all knowledge of the watch is practically lost. Its curvature and dimensions allow a considerable depth to it, which is put to good use in the elements of the movement. In keeping with the characteristics of the GMT Sport, the dial is dominated by a large curved bridge that not only carries the gear train, but also supports the hour and minute hands. An angled element has been added to the bridge adding to the degree of difficulty in finishing. The main spring is an engraved double barrel arrangement that is placed in the top left-hand part of the dial. When the watch is being wound, the barrel rotates.
The lower part of the dial hosts the balance wheel and the small seconds hand inclined at 30 degrees. Past research by Messrs Greubel & Forsey have shown that such an angle is optimal, or sufficiently approximates optimal, to average out positional errors for a wristwatch. The balance wheel is the Maison’s proprietary form that was first seen in the Signature 1. In fact, the Balancier S owes a number of movement design elements to the Signature 1. Although the position of the gear train and the main spring has been transposed, the small second hand dial and the balance wheel, with the bridge redesigned, remain in the same location.
Despite the sport aesthetic, the watch loses none of the finish on the movement that we have come to expect from Greubel Forsey, second to none in the industry. The frosted white gold plates on the front dial provide contrast to the polished hands and main curved bridge as well as to the balance wheel bridge and the small seconds dial. The red accents are an eye-catching touch to help read the time at a glance. On the reverse, the three bridges are beautifully rendered with frosted gold and polished edges.
There is something incredibly alluring about extreme design and performance in a watch being combined with high-end finishing and a proprietary movement. The Greubel Forsey Balancier S inhabits a rarefied field where the likes of Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet play. Despite their recent arrival in the watchmaking arena, they have shown their mettle and with their latest creation arguably positioned themselves first among equals.