Last week, we ran the release notes with our commentary on the new Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture. As promised, here is our hands on review, with our own photography.
Hands on Review: Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture
The retail price for the new Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture in titanium is SGD 706,200 inclusive of GST. Now available at Sincere Fine Watches Takashimaya.
The global launch took place in Singapore last week, attended by Antonio Calce, CEO of Greubel Forsey. The Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture is limited to only 11 pieces in 2022, then to 18 pieces a year between 2023 and 2025 for a total of 65 exclusive timepieces overall. And the piece we photographed here, is No 1, is already sold pending delivery to the client. As such, the case back photograph was taken with the protective plastic still in place.
The new model is called the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture. An interesting name as I first coined the term “Watchscapes” way back in 2010. The inspiration was Greubel Forsey’s movement architecture which when zoomed in with a high magnification lens of a camera looks like a landscape of a watch – hence watchscapes. And it was indeed a nice surprise, perhaps to have this idea reaffirmed by Greubel Forsey, by naming their latest watch the Architecture.
As noted in our commentary, the GF Tourbillon 24 Seconds is not a new watch from Greubel Forsey. But a rethinking of the base movement which first appeared in their Invention Piece 3 in 2009. The mechanism of the Tourbillon 24 Secondes was highlited in the IP3, which features a large 24 hour sub-dial dominating the dial side with hours indicated by a red triangle and the minutes by a blue triangle. A small seconds subsidiary dial is displayed at 5 o’clock and at 8 o’clock is the single tourbillon is set at a 25° incline to rotate at a fast rotational speed to make one revolution every 24 seconds.. A power reserve indicator is provided at 2 o’clock. Four gold dial plates on the dial are engraved with a message in French from Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey.
The new review watch looks nothing like the vintage IP3. In fact, this is a totally new interpretation of the Invention No3, only bearing small differences to the original IP3. For example, the movement dimension is ever so slightly different. The diameter has changed from 36.2mm to 38.7mm, as has the height from 11.51mm to 12.35mm. The parts count has decreased from 370 to 354, and even the tourbillon cage has one less component than the 87 in the IP3. However, the number of barrels is increased from 2 to 3, and is now coaxial and coupled in series, rotating at 1 turn in 3.2 hours. Comparing the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture to Invention Piece No3, we find that the basic idea of both movements are the same, but these are two totally new calibers.
Greubel Forsey also have also previously released another watch known as the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Asymmetric and GF03 Secret with the same invention in yet another intepretation. Both these watches use the same movement which feature the tourbillon extending as a small bulge in the case side at 8 o’clock. The Asymmetric has a partially open dial to show the tourbillon, while the other – the Secret, has a fully enclosed dial. And there is also yet another interpretation in the form of the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision which feature a similarly inclined tourbillon running at 24 seconds a revolution. In this watch, we see the tourbillon bridge which is shaped like a segment of a sphere with a high polished mirror surface. The case, and the dial the magic happens!
The case and dial side view of the movement
The case is part of the Gruebel Forsey Convexe collection. A case design which is very complex in its shape – it looks like a round case from the front, but yet is an oval with complex curves all over. As usual for Greubel Forsey, the case offers complex shapes with strong yet sensual lines which gives it a sense of dimensionality. This notion of space is enhanced by the differential finishing applied to the surfaces – from high mirror polish to straight grained and even the sides which have engraved line work. This case shape was premiered in the GMT Sport released in 2019. And quickly followed by other watches like the Double Balancier Convexe to make it a collection.
The entire complicated movement is laid out and fully visible from the dial side. And it is clear where the inspiration for the name Architecture and Watchscape come from. The dial looks like it is literally a city within the case with many elements in complex and beautiful shapes in multi levels making up for buildings.
This is an imposing watch, not solely due to the size and thickness, though the 47mm case size and the 16.8mm thickness means that it does stand proud of the wrist. But the prominently visible movement, fully visible is where the magic happens. A veritable an assault on the senses. The large volume of the case allows the bridges, and components have the space to breathe. To be able to take up 3 dimensional form. The closeup look does remind one of the architecture of a city – a watchscape.
Take for example, the cock which holds the jewel pinon and cover for the barrel. The cock is curved in the form of a spherical arc. The cock is made of highly polished titanium, and is cut in the middle to form a curved V. At the end, it holds a gold chaton with the jewel. The barrel itself is hidden behind the elaborately decorated cover which is polished, and lacquered. The cover carries a decoration of engraved circles formed into a larger concentric circles, and the Greubel Forsey house name engraved and in black. But we return for another moment and marvel at the cock, which forms a segment of a spherical surface. The outer surface is polished perfectly in a mirror like finish, the opening cut in the middle is chamfered with a beautiful anglage, and the inside of the opening is finished in a granular texture. Quite remarkable for such a small structure. And a beauty to behold.
The tourbillon too is carried in a similarly designed cock. A segment of a spherical surface with a V shape slot cut in the middle. A high polish is finishing applied to the curved titanium surface. And a dicorverture cut into it to hold a gold chaton and its jewel bearing the pivot of the tourbillon pinion. The tourbillon itself is inclined at 25°, and makes one full revolution every 24 seconds, hence the name and tracing its origins to invention no3. We also note that the bridge, with titanium bridges are also finished magnificently.
To say this new watch is impressive on the wrist is to totally understate things. The watch is rather large, with a case diameter of 47mm, but the design of the case is such that the lugs organically grow out of the case middle, and gently sweep in an elegant curve which hugs the wrist very well. The combination of this wrist hugging case and the lightness due to its construction in titanium, makes for a very comfortable watch. In addition, the case design is such that from the front, the polished chamfered bezel dominates its look, and as it measures 45mm in diameter, sort of disguises its bulk.
The movement – visible from the front as well as the case back
As mentioned above, the watch we photographed has already been spoken for, and we did not remove the rear plastic protection on the case back. Here is what the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture looks like from the rear, over the Singapore city skyline.
As is the norm for Greubel Forsey watches, movement finishing is exceptional. All the haute horlogerie elements are executed par excellence, and then more. Each element receives the high level of attention, far more than needed for good engineering performance, and even exceeding most cosmetic embellishments on other more standard high watchmaking time pieces.
This is an exceptional watch, by an exceptional company. In the last 18 years, they have been creating exceptional watches. Not only highly creative and innovative, but also with the highest levels of finishings in the industry. Greubel Forsey continues to make only about 100 to 120 watches a year, so in totality, there are approximately 2000 watches in existence. A highly limited number and thus a rarity, considering that many of the larger independents, like F.P. Journe and the like make this many in a single year’s production.
In conclusion, after seeing the watch, after playing with it for the better part of two hours during our photoshoot, after our numerous encounters with Greubel Forsey watches as well as intimate discussions with Stephen Forsey (read articles in the link for all 3 parts of this intriguing discussion), can we recommend the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture? The answer is a qualified yes. Yes, if the asking price is within your budget. Yes if you are a fan of superlative finishing. This watch is representative of some of the best you can find. Yes, if you are able to carry off wearing a large watch, though as noted it does wear smaller than the dimensions suggest – perhaps closer to 43mm than 47mm as measured. But even then, 43mm is a large watch to many. And certain a big yes, if you are fascinated by the complex movements of mechanical watches, with tourbillons and having a veritable city on your wrist.
There are good looking watches, there are sharp looking watches and then there are watches that exude an otherworldly glow. I don’t know where I read that phrase that is sewn by hand to this magnificent timer. This is a product of the highest quality achieved to date by humans in mechanical finishes, but also in its outer shell. The box is an exercise in magic with geometry. It can be said without hesitation that it climbs to a high altitude, but beware, with oxygen deprivation. No extra bottles. The top here has been reached with the greatest merit. No shortcuts. The changes in the design have been for the better, the abandonment of the baroque opens a very promising new path for this house. A watch that emanates a pleasant harmony, so elusive and difficult to achieve, that only geniuses show off that “touch” that makes you goofy when you look at their work in amazement. This watch has it wherever you look at it. It may be somewhat unfair with some old houses and the occasional independent watchmaker but at this point, in addition to GF, you can count on the fingers of one hand, who manages to arrive: A. Lange & Söhne FP Journey Breguet …