In the exclusive world of haute horologerie new brands come and go at a surprisingly quick pace. Attracted by the promise of making huge margins on over-hyped products, they launch a concept, put the marketing machine into overdrive and then sit back and hope the money comes pouring in. As you might imagine this approach has several major flaws, not least of which is the fact that these ‘new’ players completely lack credibility in the eyes of the high-end consumers they are trying to attract.
Every now and then though, something special comes along. A brand that is more interested in making incredible timepieces than they are in making money. A brand that is building for the long-term and is therefore not willing to compromise in the short term. A brand like Greubel Forsey.
In just over a decade the ultra-high-end watch maker has done what many previously thought impossible. Namely, they have established a highly respected reputation for creating incredible timepieces that are on par with those from any of the modern masters and in doing so have laid the foundation for an enduring legacy. To understand how they’ve done it, all you need to do is pick up one of their timepieces. Granted that is easier said than done, which is why today we are bringing you a hands-on look at the Double Tourbillon 30° Edition Historique in red gold.
Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30° – The Edition Historique
Greubel Forsey aficionados will no doubt already be more than familiar with the significance of the Double Tourbillon 30° to the brand’s short history. First launched back in 2004, the mind-blowing complexity, and resulting success of this timepiece, formed the basis for the legitimacy of the inventions that followed. It was this original model that effectively catapulted Greubel Forsey into the spotlight, announcing the arrival of a superb new watchmaker the likes of which the world had not seen before.
Given the importance of this piece you can imagine it came as something of a shock when the brand announced in 2010 that they would be ceasing production. The logic behind the decision was fairly sound though; Greubel Forsey is an inventor and an innovator first and foremost and as such the focus of their energy and investment dollars must always be on the future, which brings me to the Edition Historique.
Unveiled in 2010, the Edition Historique is a unique edition of 11 pieces in 5N red gold and 11 pieces in platinum created to commemorate the closing of the Double Tourbillon 30° contemporary line after six successful years and to be honest it is hard to imagine a more fitting tribute.
Like all Greubel Forsey timepieces the Edition Historique requires close study to be truly appreciated. Presented in a gorgeous 44.5mm red gold case, the first highlight for me is the 18k gold dial complete with three sapphire crystal plates embellished with galvanically-structured text. Unfortunately it’s all in French so I cannot understand most of what is written but apparently the inventors of the Double Tourbillon 30° (Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey) have used this unique space – as well as the four hand decorated curved plates screwed onto the caseband – to explain the reasoning and philosophy behind their invention and by extension their brand.
Once you stop staring at this tiny but mesmerizing text you will notice that the partially open-worked dial is also comprised of a central hours and minutes display, a sectorial 72-hour power reserve indicator at 2 o’clock, a small seconds indicator at 9 o’clock and indicators for the 4-minute and 60-second rotations of the two tourbillons. Which brings me to my second highlight, the 30° inclined double tourbillon.
Basically this complex mechanism is comprised of two tourbillons, one rotating inside the other at different speeds. And yes, it looks just as spectacular as it sounds. The bottom half of the dial is completely cut away, allowing for incredible views of the double tourbillon mechanism from both the front and the back. The delicate finishing defies belief with every single component crafted to the highest possible standards, regardless of whether it will ever be seen by anyone else outside of a Greubel Forsey watchmaker.
Holding it in your hands it is impossible not to marvel at the unique creativity of the Edition Historique. Everywhere you look there is some tiny new detail to discover, some subtle touch you somehow missed before, like the beveled relief of the bezel which ensures the final edition of this iconic series has its own distinct look whilst still retaining the intrinsic design features that make a Greubel Forsey timepiece so desirable.
Given the importance of this first invention to the brand’s longer term success it certainly was sad (if not a little surprising) to see the Double Tourbillon 30° retired at such a young age. At least that’s the way it seemed at the time. A lot of exciting things have happened at Greubel Forsey in the ensuing years though, much of which arguably would not have been possible if the brand were still concentrating on re-inventing earlier models. So you see, it’s really not all bad news after all.
Available in a highly limited edition of just 11 pieces in 5N red gold (I’m not sure how many are left for sale around the world) each one is numbered from 165 to 175, which is inscribed on a gold plate screwed to the anthracite-coloured 18k gold dial.