The recently revealed Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture is a visual marvel that also feels quite remarkable.
The Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture is a lot of watch, and it is also more complex than the garden variety tourbillon wristwatch. This is a timepiece that challenges the mind and the eye; one that has both literal and figurative depth. The Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture, which is mouthful so we will just go with Tourbillon Architecture, is a kinetic sculpture that happens to tell the time. The brand calls it a city on the wrist, and it is not hard to see why. It also defies attempts at easy explanations, which is how Greubel Forsey CEO Antonio Calce put it to us when we had lunch with him in Singapore.
Nevertheless, here is the skinny on the watch. It is a 47.05mm titanium piece that is 16.80mm thick, but thanks to its shape and structure, it wears a little less profoundly than those specs suggest. It is water-resistant to 50m. More on the dimensions in a bit, but first we have to address the key points about the engine, which does not have a specific name. It features an inclined tourbillon that completes one rotation in 24 seconds (hence the name of the watch). It manages the neat feat of staying powered for 90 hours despite having to power this mechanism. Dial-side, the Tourbillon Architecture displays hours and minutes, with a subdial for small seconds, an indicator for the rotation of the tourbillon, and the power reserve.
The prosaic description above does nothing for the watch, which you might deduce from the pictures. A watch like this one transcends the elevator pitch for complications, offering a fiercely independent and visceral sense of time. This is apparent at just a glance. What you cannot tell is the effect of the Tourbillon Architecture in person. In watch collecting circles, this is what is known as a conversation starter. In fact, if you wear this watch you should actually try to know something about how the mechanism works. Typically a piece like this will appeal to those who love horology anyway so this will not be a chore. There is a lot to know and love about this watch, including the reasons behind the 25 degree incline of the tourbillon, and its specific rotation speed.
To get into the nuts and bolts of this watch, it is not so much key technical details such as the amplitude that matter here but the form that timekeeping takes. This is about three-dimensional architecture, not engineering. For example, the tourbillon at 6 o’clock has a very impressively curved bridge that appears to be connected only to itself. The effect is quite beguiling, while the sheer mass and shape of the bridge is fascinating. You actually admire this from multiple angles because Greubel Forsey has introduced a full sapphire case middle, rather than just a window of two. This also helps to focus one’s attention on finishing details because there is a lot of visibility here.
Getting the mirror polish on the aforementioned tourbillon bridge was no small matter, especially when it has to catch the light from all different angles. As a matter of fact, all the titanium bridges share this characteristic; yes, this is titanium with a high degree of polish. Another visual treat is the small seconds indicator, which is basically a polished cylinder; polishing surfaces with this kind of curvature requires not only a great deal of work, but thinking outside the box as well because traditional methods were never meant for this.
We will close here by returning to the case, which as noted has a 47.05mm base and a sapphire case middle. The bezel is just 45.50mm, meaning this watch is convex, and that is just mad. This is a variable geometry bezel, which is a term you might be familiar with from the description of Richard Mille rotors, and that too is fascinating. Happily, explanations are not required to enjoy the spectacle here, which is what most of us will be limited to due to the production constraints for the Tourbillon Architecture. Just 11 pieces will be made this year, then 18 pieces annually until 2025, for a total of 65 pieces.
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