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BaselWorld2014: Belles of the Fair: Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon

by Charles Sutanto on April 21, 2014

One of the challenges for any brand for sustainability is to create a design coherency and consistency that can instantly connect consumer to the brand itself. And successful design can create emotional connections that transcend beyond the brand itself.

For their sophomore effort, Grönefeld brothers have managed to create that consistency of design with the introduction of Parallax Tourbillon.

Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon.

Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon. The DNA carried over from their One Hertz is apparent in the dial layout and design. The markings on each of the subdials are on raised sections to minimise parallax from the hand that reads off it. For example the seconds hand chapter ring is raised from the dial, so that it is as close as possible to the end of the seconds hand. And in particular, the tourbillon is raised such that it is as close to the sapphire glass as is possible, giving the admirer a good, clear view of the tourbillon.

 

The new Parallax Tourbillon design has again, managed to convey the brothers’ objective to put the complication of a watch onto a pedestal, which enabling the wearer to admire and appreciate their creations even more. The watch itself features a “flying” tourbillon with large central seconds hand which always travel in sync with the arm of the tourbillon bridge, creating a parallel dance between the two. The set up of the central seconds hand is unique in which the center seconds is driven by a pinion and wheel linked to the gear train creating a better efficiency to the seconds’ mechanism.

Carrying over from the very successful One Hertz is the function selector push crown. The brothers believe that this set up is a better solution to a “pull crown” as it eliminates the risk of breaking the fragile stem.

Diagram showing the directly driven central seconds hand, and the pin below the tourbillon carriage which will be blocked by the lever which is extended when the watch is put in time setting mode. This will cause the tourbillon to stop when the seconds hand reaches zero, allowing for precise timesetting.

Diagram showing the directly driven central seconds hand, and a cage stop-finger, which is attached below the tourbillon carriage which will be blocked by the lever which is extended when the watch is put in time setting mode. This will cause the tourbillon to stop when the seconds hand reaches zero, allowing for precise timesetting.

Pressing the selector will put the watch to time setting mode, allowing the crown to adjust the hands directly as well as extend a lever which will move into the path of the cage stop-finger which is attached to the bottom of the tourbillon carriage. When the tourbillon (and the seconds hand) reaches zero, the lever blocks the carriage and stops the tourbillon and the movement. This feature enables precise time setting. Pressing the crown to winding position will re-start both the tourbillon cage and the seconds’ hand.

Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon, showing the one armed bridge for the escapement of the tourbillon.

Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon, showing the one armed bridge for the escapement of the tourbillon.

For centuries, it was not possible to stop the tourbillon to set the time. In 2004, Lange introduced the Cabaret Tourbillon which allowed the tourbillon to be stopped, and all Lange tourbillons since have had this feature. In 2013, another German manufacture, Moritz Grossman introduced a tourbillon with a stop second mechanism. Till now, all these mechanisms hack the movement, but the user has to ensure that he initiates the stopping by pulling at the precise time when the seconds hand is at zero to ensure he can synchronize the time setting with the time signal.

But with the introduction of the Lange 1815 Tourbillon in SIHH 2014, not only allows the tourbillon to be stopped, but on pulling the crown, the watch automatically resets the seconds hand to zero. The mechanism directly stops the carriage or balance wheel and the seconds hand instantly and within a sub-second reset the seconds hand to zero by means of a heart shaped cam like in a chronograph. In the Parallax, one simply waits for the seconds hand to reach zero, when the movement will come to a stop to achieve the same goal for precise timesetting.

The dial design itself carries the strong successful design of One Hertz while improving the legibility. Made of solid silver with frosted finish with each of the chapter rings having brushed finish with diamond cut edges. What improves the legibility greatly is the use of blued hands, a first for Gronefled watch.

Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon in stainless steel, limited to 12 pieces. The watch is also available in a red gold case limited to 28 pieces.

Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon in stainless steel, limited to 12 pieces. The watch is also available in a red gold case limited to 28 pieces.

Both the tourbillon and central seconds hand are raised above the dial to a point where the central seconds hand is practically touching the edge of the dial. This set up allows the beauty of the tourbillon to be admired without hindrance as one can see clearly the rhythmic breathing of the balance hairspring and void the parallax error that typically happens when reading the seconds hand. This is exactly how the watch gets its name. Looking further at the dial, the setup creates a clear sense of depth enhancing stereopsis, a process by which the brain exploits parallax due to different view from the eyes to gain depth perception.

Grönefeld Caliber G-03, beating at 21,600 bph, 72 hours power reserve. Movement plates in stainless steel.

Grönefeld Caliber G-03, beating at 21,600 bph, 72 hours power reserve. Movement plates in stainless steel.

Supporting the movement, again the brothers use their signature design, steel bridges with frosted surface and very sharply polished bevels. The extensive use of steel ensures the long lasting glow of the movement finish. Although steel is harder to work with, the brothers think that it is a fair trade-off as they would like their watch to also transcend generations with the same consistency in brilliance.

Detail of the G-03 movement. The plates are made in a very pleasing aesthetic design.

Detail of the G-03 movement. The plates are made in a very pleasing aesthetic design, executed in stainless steel.
Stainless steel is rarely used for movement plates as they are very hard, and difficult to achieve fine finishing required for a high horology watch. The Parallax, as well as the One Hertz shows off the brothers’ finishing abilities to a very high degree. The juxtaposition of the highly polished, raised bridge edges and the matt finished textured frosted interior surface of the bridges are a particularly beautiful effect.

The Parallax is a very strong sophomore effort from the brothers as it not only able to convey the brothers’ contemporary design philosophy but also keeping true to traditional watchmaking values. We at Deployant certainly think so, what do you think?

 

Grönefeld  Parallax Tourbillon on the wrist. Case is a modest 43mm diameter with a thickess of 12.5mm.

Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon on the wrist. Case is a modest 43mm diameter with a thickess of 12.5mm.

Photographs and captions by Peter Chong

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