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Greubel Forsey Balancier Contemporain

A more accessible Greubel Forsey
by Chester Lau on February 3, 2019
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The most accessible Greubel Forsey to date, in terms of pricepoint, the new Balancier Contemporain is limited to 33 pieces in white gold, and is priced at CHF195,000 before taxes. It uses a 12mm balance wheel instead of the iconic tourbillon that the brand frequently uses. The openworked concept and multi layer dial display is also captured with this piece.

The Greubel-Forsey Contemporain Balancier. Note the black polished mirror finish below the balance wheel.

The Case

With the Balancier Contemporain, Greubel Forsey reduces the case size to a more compact 39.6 mm-diameter, 12.21 mm-high case. Previous models which host the inclined tourbillon tend to be larger in width and thickness, approximately 44 mm in diameter and 16 mm in thickness.

The white gold case is lined with alternating finishes – polished bezel and lugs, satin-brushed caseband and caseback.

The Dial

The Greubel Forsey Balancier Contemporain retains the iconic multi-level dial with asymmetric display. Apart from the shuffled layout, the dial plays with split levels as well as various materials and finishes.

The offset hours/minutes dial appears at 2 o’clock with its blued steel hands featuring hand-polished countersinks and flat-polished centres, along with its apertures revealing the Greubel Forsey balance wheel, gear train and three-dimensional tripod bridge.

Breguet overcoil on the balance wheel. Note also the tremblage style finish on the dial contrasting with the grained finish of the chapter ring for the minutes, and the blasted, grained finish of the dial proper.

At 10 o’clock, on a slightly lower level, a hand-frosted plate houses the power-reserve display. Just below it, between 8 and 9 o’clock, the small seconds rotates, supported by a frosted and bevelled bridge providing a glimpse of the gilded barrel drum with Greubel Forsey engraving. Proudly showcased at 6 o’clock in keeping with its stature, the balance wheel is set against the background of a bridge hand-polished to a mirror shine.

The finishing is immaculate. The black polished mirror finish on the sides of the stepped dial reflecting perfectly the Greubel-Forsey on the barrel cover.

The Movement

The manual-winding calibre comprises 255 components and packs a 72-hour power reserve. A double barrel series-coupled power train is used to power the watch. The movement is also equipped with hack mechanism.

Despite being generally hidden from sight, the caseback side reveals an engraved plate with Greubel Forsey inscriptions. The centre is occupied by an engraved circular red gold plate bearing the GF logo and the individual limited-edition number.

It is surrounded by a white gold bridge, relief- engraved with the key Greubel Forsey values. Held by gold security screws, the caseback is signed with raised polished engraving – “Greubel Forsey” and “Balancier”. The watch is fitted with a hand-sewn leather or alligator strap, secured by a white gold pin buckle hand-engraved with the Greubel Forsey logo.

The watch is also available in a gemset model; slightly larger than the regular, to accommodate the baguette diamonds.
the 39.6mm diameter fits the wrist perfectly, while retaining the 3D signature effect of Greubel-Forsey.

Concluding Thoughts

The Balancier Contemporain is designed as the entry level watch to the brand. While it bears the same DNA and quality of finishing with the higher end models, the Contemporain trades away the technical extravagance found on its more expensive brothers. The movement is good but not technically spectacular, and while the finishing on the dial side is exemplary, one could also consider a Breguet La Tradition for a tenth the price. While exclusive, with a limited run of 33 pieces, and understandably the gateway drug to Greubel Forsey, at CHF 195,000 that is a high price to pay for a time only, ‘open-work’ watch. For said price, a Patek Philippe complication is well within reach.

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