Greubel Forsey watches have always shown off their complexity. What goes on inside the case is reflected on the outside, an architectural rule from which the sophistication of Greubel Forsey calibres allows no escape. Until now these watches were voluminous, fairly thick and often with lateral protrusions to accommodate multi-axis inclined tourbillons. The brand’s new feature for 2015 is a break from this stylistic past. At a casual glance the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision seems quite simple. But nothing can be more deceptive, for it’s a Greubel Forsey and they are far from being inconsequential.
This first impression is sustained by the perfectly round 43.5mm white gold case with a satin-finished caseband under a polished bezel which is in no way over the top. The impression is reinforced by the fact that this watch, unlike the others in the brand's collection, actually has a dial, which is furthermore unencumbered by additions. There’s no plate or engravings, no power-reserve indicator or double scale on the sunken small seconds: the graphic features of the brand have been put aside. But here again, the austerity is only skin deep. The entirely gold dial is grained on both levels. Its hour markers are not transferred onto the dial but are in fired enamels, which means that the hours have been gouged out, filled with enamel and fired, champlevé style. Only three Greubel Forsey characteristics remain: the spear hands, the brand logo and a good-sized circular opening. The latter gives a bird’s eye view of a 24-second tourbillion inclined at 25°. This brings us to the heart of the matter and of Greubel Forsey’s identity. To go further, you have to turn the watch over.
The Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision thus shows two faces. The front is well behaved; the back displays the mechanical and stylistic recklessness that you expect from Greubel Forsey. The baseplates and bridges are in German silver, grained and extensively chamfered by hand. The power-reserve indicator is the one that has become familiar over the 10 years of the brand’s existence. The system of twin, rapidly unwinding barrels, entirely engraved and in two colours is visible through an opening in the baseplate. Finally, the cherry on the cake comes in the shape of a sapphire-crystal bulge that reveals the tourbillon. It is cut from two pieces, flat on one side and on the other, a vault set into a steel rim that is itself an extension of the case. Under the dome, a waisted tourbillon bridge, cambered in three dimensions, has been entirely polished by hand. It goes without saying that polishing such a large and curved surface is a rare event that takes an inordinate amount of time.
The movement, used for the other versions of the Tourbillon 24 Secondes, has been completely re-arranged. The body of the tourbillon remains unchanged except for the two carriage bridges. However it has been shifted a few degrees upwards. The barrels have been moved, the small seconds have been turned through 90° and the power-reserve indicator has changed sides. With these modifications, the movement is now 7.09mm thick or 25% thinner than the other 24-second tourbillon movements. This brings the height of the case to 13.65mm, except for where the tourbillon dome rises to 16mm. However, since the dome fits between the two bones of the forearm, it doesn’t lift the case nor does it have any effect on the overall height of the watch on the wrist.
There is thus nothing intrusive about the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision on the wrist. Above all, it really looks smaller than all the other watches of the brand. Its restrained style is evident. The design meets the requirements of some customers who, although admirers of the brand’s achievements, are less convinced about its usual styling. There can’t be many of them, for this watch is limited to 22 pieces. In Greubel Forsey’s terminology, this means that it shall come in different materials, shades of gold, or in different movement colours, at some point in time.