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Introducing: The Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe

Now, on this site, we do tend to focus primarily on what we would call the ‘affordable’ end of the spectrum. The likes of Fears, Christopher Ward, Oris and many others litter the feed of articles. However, I am lucky enough to be very good friends with an amazing lady called Caroline Kemp. Alongside her role of running the PR for Bamford Watch Department and Vertex, she is also works on the PR for a small brand called Greubel Forsey. Whilst they only manufacturer around 100 watches a year, they are not small in terms of their recognition. Renowned for avante garde watch design, complete 3D globes within their movements, and prices as much as a 4 bed house, they are something pretty special.

Given their exclusivity, and we are talking about proper exclusivity here, not like being lucky enough to get a Rolex GMT at retail, they are akin to hens teeth. This means that they are quite rare to come across in the metal! However, I was honoured to be asked to come down to The Biltmore Hotel in Mayfair to get an exclusive look at their latest release. This is the Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Curvexe.

To give a bit of background on a brand that does not get as much air time as I would like it too, let me give you an abridged history of the brand. Greubel Forsey was started by two friends, Stephen Forsey and Robert Greubel, who met at the renowned complications maker Renaud & Papi in the 1990’s. Following their time there, they started their own complications manufacturer called Complitime in 2001, which quickly became the Greubel Forsey we know shortly in 2004. They have risen to notoriety for their incredible levels of movement complication, focussing mainly around the tourbillon.

Album dropping soon...

The watch in question, sadly in true Greubel Forsey fashion, is rather large. 43.50mm x 13.75mm (bezel diameter 46.50mm) is not exactly a terribly wearable size, but given the complexity of the movement and the architecture, it is more than justified. Coupled with the curvature of the case and the fact that it is cased in titanium, these factors do a good job at softening the blow.

Not unwearable, but it certainly isnt going under that shirt cuff...

Despite looking rather bonkers in the grand scheme of things, this is actually a surprisingly simple watch. Two hands for the hours and minutes, a sub seconds counter for the running seconds, and a four minute indicator for the differential that supplies the power for the two balances (more on that in a second). The watch comes equipped with a rather healthy 72 hours of power reserve, thanks to not one but two stacked mainspring barrels, which are placed one on top of another. Now, given movement architecture is something that Greubel Forsey are bloody good at, why not put a 30 degree inclined balance in the watch? This is certainly not conventional watchmaking. But Felix, what on earth is the benefit of inclining a balance wheel at a 30 degree angle? I hear you ask…

What an absolutely stunning piece of movement design... I have no words

Well, in the same way that the technique is often applied to tourbillons, the premise here is the same. If the balance is not sat dead straight on the horizontal or vertical plane, you tend to get less variation in the supply of power to the movement. But given the ease (not) of implementing an inverted balance, why not really challenge yourself and put two in the movement? Whilst in this instance the two balances are not both inclined, the reason for having two is that even in the instance where one of the balance wheels is completely flat, the other is on an angle and the sum of their collective rates will be more precise than one balance wheel.

As you can imagine, this movement has been finished impeccably. Every surface is polished intricately, and the high glow of the polished steel and brass absolutely pop against the dull, warm colour of the titanium main plate. This level of finishing extends to the case, as well as the matching titanium bracelet. This as an overall watch in the metal was like nothing I have ever seen or held before. The feeling the watch, with its crazy curvature and movement architecture honestly makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end. And this was before the lovely PR team at Greuel Forsey told me how much this watch costs. If you remember at the beginning I said it cost the same as a house, well would you rather a house or one of these gorgeous watches for your £318,000? Given that could get you a shoebox studio flat in London, I think id take the watch. The watch is limited to 66 pieces, all of which are sold out, so clearly the brand are doing something right...

As you can see, the bezel and crystal are both curved to cope with the size of the case...

To date, and I do not expect anything to top this for a long time, this is by far, the most bonkers horological creation I have ever held or tried on. The fact that it is the size of a saucer pails into insignificance as soon as you see it. It is truly a mesmerising thing. I could not be more lucky to have had the pleasure to spend an hour or so with it, and I really hope that this can pave the way for bringing all of you reading more relatable consumer advice on brands for the people, so if MB&F, Voutilainen or Roger Smith would like to allow me to review some of their watches, I would be truly honoured.

Felix Arnold

Editor In Chief & Founder

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