The genre of the luxury sports watch gets an injection of complexity with the new Greubel Forsey GMT Sport. We had a close look at the watch and photographed it when Stephen Forsey visited Singapore in early November to bring you this hands-on review.
We talked at length about this genre, though in a narrower sense of luxury sports watch in steel with an integrated bracelet on our Sunday Throwback. Expanded to be more inclusive, and defined only by luxury and sports watch (min 100m water resistance), we can include the Greubel Forsey at the top of the heap. Richard Mille with their use of exotic materials is almost always at the top of the pile, but as mentioned, they march to the beat of a different drummer, and best not be compared to.
Greube Forsey GMT Sport
Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey conceived out of a desire to make their GMT, a stunning timepiece in its own right the world have never seen before…or since, more sporty. The Greubel Forsey literature nor speaking with Stephen does not yield what exactly they mean by sporty, we understand that the base specifications include a lightweight, ultra-strong case, with a water resistance of 100m, and functionality of the GMT. There is no mention of shock absorption capability of the watch.
Building on the foundation of the original GMT, the GMT Sport is built on a new movement which is constructed from scratch – from the suspended arched bridge for the hours and minutes display, to the unique showcase of the Tourbillon 24 Secondes and the universal time display with three dimensional globe. And cased in a lightweight, ultra strong, profiled titanium case with an ovoid bezel and integrated lugs.
The case, dial and hands
The first thing which strikes as one sets eyes on the watch is the rather strange shape of the case and bezel. But the strangeness soon give way to the familiar as the image of the saddle shaped curves of a piece of Pringles Original Potato Crisp. This melange of strangeness and familiarity quickly warms up to a pleasing aesthetic, with elements of an organic fluidity, yet portraying a sense of great strength. The term Möbius also come to mind.
The design of the case calls for a perfectly round shape from above, while revealing the accentuated arched and ovoid shape from other angles.
The bezel is curved in multi-dimensions, kind of twisting itself into what Stephen Forsey calls an ovoid shape. But this unusual shape is designed to showcase the movement within its walls, without the bumps that show as protrusions in the case side of the original GMT. The bezel is inscribed the Greubel Forsey values (in French) in raised engraved texts. The highly curved sapphire crystal follows the shape of the bezel.
The case itself is a three piece construction. The bezel, as described sits on the case middle, which is perhaps a more regular tonneau shape, curved on the lateral axis so it sits comfortably on the wrist, despite the 45mm nominal diameter. The lugs are integrated to the straps and fit together to the case aerodynamically. Stephen tells us that design is protected by 4 patets.
The crown on one side, and two pushers to set the second timezone and the other to synchronize the local time with the globe are on the other side of the case. The case middle in a dark, matte titanium and the highly curved lugs are bolted to its sides with screws bearing special heads. The lugs have a raised lip edge which is brushed to match the finish on the bezel and an inner surface which is a textured frosted finish within, treated to look darker.
The impression of the case construction is one which is very strong, almost armour in appearance.
The dial side shows the new architecture, open as is customary in Gruebel Forsey watches and presents an orchestrated theater to suspended the bridges, wheel train and floating dials in 3 dimensions.
No doubt a lot is going on on the dial, but with the hour and minutes displayed in the center with large openworked hands. The hands have large arrow shaped tips which are coated with Super-Luminova to ensure good legibility.
A suspended arch centre bridge strides across half of the dial. The bridge is finished in a polished lip with black treated inner surface. In between the legs of the bridge, the gear train driving the hour and minute hands is visible.
An auxiliary dial suspended at 11 o’clock combines the small seconds on a rotating disc visible through an aperture on the sub-dial and indicated by a red triangle, with a second time zone display indicated by a red triangular hand.
The 72-hour chronometric power reserve (ensured by two coaxial barrels in series) is indicated on a sector at 3 o’clock with its openworked hand and highlighted red triangle.
Overall the case has a powerful look in line with the sporty ambitions. The dial, while busy, is visually very interesting, and legibility is rather good.
Most of the movement is seen on the dial side, with the rear showing a huge dial marked with cities. The movement is not entirely new and is based on the original GMT movement of 2011. However, the construction is new with a completely new architecture. Putting the two side by side, the locations of the functions are different, as are the shape and placement of the bridges.
The caseback side shows the world time display. The outer and central rings complete the sapphire cities disc to give UTC Universal and Summer Time for 24 cities in major time zones. This disc distinguishes those time zones applying summer time (on a light background) from those that do not (on a dark background). The time is read off the rear bezel which is engraved with the twenty-four hours.
The movement retains the double-patented mechanism first used in 2011. The second time zone indication on the auxiliary dial between 10 and 11 o’clock is combined with a universal time display to intuitively read the current time anywhere in the world. The remarkable innovation and striking spectacle of the terrestrial rotating globe – seen from above the North Pole – performs one complete anticlockwise turn on its axis in 24 hours. The globe is surrounded by a sapphire crystal ring with 24-hour divisions; where the wearer can read local time for all longitudes, including the day / night indicator (light zone / dark zone).
The 24 Seconds Tourbillon is showcased at 1 o’clock secured by its distinctive and highly polished tourbillon bridge with black finished openings. The cage is inclined at 25 ° completing one full rotation in 24 seconds. The faster speed combined with the cage inclination, is claimed to significantly improve the chronometric performance in a single-tourbillon system, with minimal movement height.
Whether they are visible on the dial side or concealed in the caseback side, each of the 435 components of this hand-wound movement, including titanium plates and bridges, respect the most demanding criteria typical of Greubel Forsey, and easily meets the detailing of the best finnisage in the business.
Competitively, it is difficult to place the Greubel Forsey GMT Sport. If by genre, we can compare it with the other luxury sports watches, but it out-prices all the usual suspects (Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Vacheron Constantin Overseas) by a handy mile. Even tourbillon versions or complicated variants are much less expensive than the CHF 480,000 asking price of the GMT Sport.
If we look in the field of watches with comparable complications, perhaps the field is bare. This combination of complications is not to be found in any other watch in production.
If by price bracket, perhaps the likes of Richard Mille might provide a challenge for those with enormous wallets. But similarities with the Richard Mille and Greubel Forsey offer meagre pickings. The emphasis of both brands could not be more different. Richard Mille focusses on being the ultimate racing machine on the wrist. While Greubel Forsey attempts to put traditionally finished, exotic complications in the watch.
Any or a combination of these comparisons, we think, is an exercise akin to comparing apples to oranges. Perhaps one which is not very useful, so we will not attempt it.
In conclusion, the Greubel Forsey GMT Sport is going to polarize. Some are going to love the unique shape from the get go. Some will grow to love it with familiarization (like us!), And others will hate it. Forever!
Aesthetics aside, for the record we loved it after some acclimatization, there is no denying that this is a Greubel Forsey true and true. The concept is interesting. The execution is flawless. The finishing sets the standards of hand workmanship. We respect the visualization that took Messers Greubel and Forsey and the gumption to change the mould and make a watch in this new case shape. Salut Robert! Salute Stephen.
This is not a watch for every one. The CHF 480,000 price tag will disqualify most of us. And the 11 piece limitation will prevent others capable of ponying up the bucks from getting one. But for those who are able and willing, the GMT Sport will be a nice architectural testament of performance with augmented ergonomics.
Greubel Forsey GMT Sport Specifications
Movement dimensions • Diameter : 36.90 mm • Thickness : 13.18 mm
Number of parts • Movement : 435 parts • Tourbillon cage : 88 parts • Weight of the cage : 0.38 g
Number of jewels • 63 • Olived-domed jewels in gold chatons
Chronometric power reserve • 72 hours
Barrels • Two coaxial series-coupled fast-rotating barrels (1 turn in 3.2 hours), one of which is equipped with a slipping spring to avoid excess tension
Balance wheel • Variable-inertia with gold mean-time screws (10 mm diameter)
Frequency • 21’600 vibrations/hour
Balance spring • Phillips terminal curve • Geneva-style stud
Bridges and main plate • Titanium • Frosted and spotted, polished bevelling and countersinks, straight-grained flanks, black treatment • Multi-level, suspended-arch bridge, polished with black treatment in relief, polished bevelling and countersinks, straight-grained flanks • Flat black polished tourbillon bridge with black treatment in relief, spotted, polished bevelling and countersinks, straight-grained flanks
Tourbillon • Inclined at a 25° angle, 24-seconds rotation • Light alloy cage pillars • Titanium cage bridges • Gold counterweight
Gearing • Involute circle profile • Tangential inclined gear on fixed wheel and on escape wheel pinion • Inclined gear and profiled teeth on intermediate wheels of the set-hands mechanism.
Displays • Hours and minutes, on suspended-arch bridge • Small seconds on disc • 72-hours power reserve on a sector • 24-seconds tourbillon rotation • Rotating titanium globe with universal time
• Day-and-night • 2nd time zone GMT
Movement side • 24 time zones universal time • Summer time
Case • Titanium with curved synthetic sapphire crystal • Three-dimensional, variable geometry-shaped bezel with raised engraved text • Profiled lugs, screwed fixing • Engraved pushers • Transparent back with high domed synthetic sapphire crystal • Titanium security screws • Raised engraving “GMT Sport” and “Greubel Forsey”
Case dimensions • Caseband diameter : 42.00 mm • Bezel diameter : 45.00 mm • Case height : 15.70 mm • Height on synthetic sapphire crystals : 17.80 mm
Water resistance of the case • Water-resistant 10 atm – 100 m – 328 ft (standard NIHS 92-20/SN ISO 22810:2010)
Crown • Titanium and rubber with GF logo • Colour-coded rubber capping, interchangeable
Dial side • Three-dimensional, variable geometry hour-ring, with luminescent hours and minutes indexes • GMT indicator with raised engraving • Power-reserve indicator, engraved and lacquered • Tourbillon rotation indicator in gold • Rotating globe with fixed day-and-night UTC indicator in synthetic sapphire, engraved and lacquered
Movement side • Synthetic sapphire disc displaying city names surrounded by 2 rings (UTC engraved on the case / Summer time engraved on a gold movement plate, lacquered and hand matt-lapped) • “Summer time” plate with limitation number, raised engraving, hand matt lapped
Hands • Polished steel curved shape hours and minutes, with Super-LumiNova • 2nd time zone GMT indicator, red triangle • Small seconds, fixed red triangle • Power-reserve indicator, in polished steel • Aluminium 24-seconds double-tipped hand, black treatment
Strap and clasp • Rubber with relief text • Titanium folding clasp, engraved GF logo