a close look at the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon
Introducing Time2tic, a true Haute Horlogerie aficionado, as contributor to Monochrome. Here is his first post…
Greubel Forsey watches are generally quite a rare encounter. In fact their high quality yearly production barely tops a couple of hundreds if that many. Getting the chance to be introduced to one of their most amazing models by the CEO of the company himself, is probably as rare as witnessing the Haley comet crossing the Milky Way.
I recently got this rare privilege and came equipped to take a few pictures that I am pleased to share here. My first impression is that the watch is fairly large, even to modern standards, but maybe it’s better to say it has a big ‘presence’. After all a 43.5mm case is a pretty normal size these days. From the first look at the watch one understands that the mechanical features not only require but deserve a comfortable case.
Once we adopt that a tourbillon cage “tourbilloning” within a second tourbillon cage is called a double tourbillon, it’s easy to do the math. The Gruebel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon, feautures 2 double tourbillons. The double tourbillons are coupled to the other through a unique differential system.
Watches with 2 escapements are not a novelty as such. The FP Journe Chronometre à Resonnance is a perfect example featuring 2 escapements in watch. In that case, the ‘resonnance’ principle tends to get both escapements to beat at the same frequency, giving superior chronometric performance as well as an impressive caliber to look at.
In the Quadruple Tourbillon, both escapements are coupled with a differential mechanism increasing the chronometric performance of the watch. That is when the watch is regulated right.
Mr. Vuille told me that the watches produced are regulated for -1 / +2s per day (compared to a COSC certified caliber, with tolerance of -4/+6s we are talking of tolerances 3 times better, which, in the world of chronometry set this watch light years ahead of the million of watches that are COSC certified each year). Continuing on the chronometric comparison, COSC measurements are made with 24h interval. The performance of this watch can be observed over the whole duration of the useful power reserve, which is 50 hours. Whoever has been patient enough and well equipped to measure the chronometric performance of a mechanical watch over its useful power reserve, knows that the beginning and the end are usually times during which the watch will run faster or slower than during the main part of the power reserve. Here, these effects are barely noticeable, I have been told.
Looking closer at the complex caliber, I quickly decided that the point was not to try to understand the mechanical secrets of the magicians but rather enjoy the sheer beauty of the hypnotic dance of these 2 double tourbillons.
The finish is pushed to the maximum perfection in every aspects and details of the watch. The rose gold case is polished to perfection and the brushed surfaces have a regularity that I have not met anywhere else.
The sapphire sections on the sides of the case allow to see the tourbillons from an unusual angle and provide lots of light when one looks at them from the top. The feeling of lightness in the design is further enhanced by sapphire portions on the dial and sapphire “hands” indicating the 4 minutes rotation of the outer cage of the tourbillon.
Independent watchmakers usually display great inventiveness in the design of the dials and produce stunning finish on the dial, hands and caliber. If one wanted to challenge the level of perfection of this production, one had to look elsewhere. So I did.
I checked how well the papillon buckle was made (note that this particular one was on a Double Tourbillon watch). And there, I realize I had jumped to the very top category of watchmaking. I was looking at something else. This buckle, like any other of the 531 parts of the caliber has been finished to an impressive level of precision, both mechanically and esthetically.
There is absolutely no extra play in the whole mechanism. The engraving of “inventeur horlogers” is perfect even when looking at it under big magnification. This will open and close on demand, but rest assured, it will not open inadvertently no matter how hard you shake this watch (although I would not dare to perform the shaking, even if the watch can probably stand it without problem).
If you end up stuck in a really boring place while wearing the quadruple tourbillon, and you happen to have either the sight of a hawk or a magnifier in your pocket, you can enjoy the reading of all the extremely fine engravings on the case itself. This can be done only after you managed to get your eyes away from the ballet of the 2 double tourbillons.
On the dial, the “seconde sectorielle” and the power reserve are displayed on the same subdial. the different types of hands make the information unmistakable. It also offers a visual counter-weight to the larger of the 2 double tourbillons opening.
The tourbillons themselves get a lot of visual attention for obvious reason. Lightness is what comes to mind immediately at first glance, and light they are, 1.17g for 128 components. Both balance do not oscillate in the same plane, to increase even further the chronometric qualities of the mechanism.
As if this was not enough, simply flip the watch around to admire the geometry of the caliber and the exquisite finish through the transparent back.
Get a bit closer…. The differential system is right in the middle. The decoration of the mainspring-cases are absolutely even, allowing the light to play with these surfaces in a very “smooth” way. In this pink gold version, the combination of blued screws, purple rubies and frosted surfaces give a lot of dynamic to the whole mechanical sculpture. This is a masterpiece, no doubt!
Towards the end of the photo shoot, I was fully comfortable with the large size of the watch (large is still quite far from too large, in my opinion), I had taken a micrometric trip into super high exclusive complication and had engraved in my memory pictures of the highest level of finish I had ever seen.
I hope this review gives you the wish to hunt down one of the few places where such watches are on display and recommend you take the time to observe every detail of it (this may take quite some time of your day, but totally worth it). It may make you change the way you look at any timepiece, for quite a while…
Special thanks to E. Vuille CEO of Greubel Forsey, for his patience.
Information about the timepieces can be found at the Greubel Forsey website.