Timely inventions by Greubel Forsey

Greubel Forsey are about small numbers: eleven years of history. About 900 watches made so far. Just over 100 people. Seven fundamental inventions. Quality, not quantity.

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04 March 2015

With just a hundred or so watches made every year, products by Greubel Forsey are collector’s items even before they reach the market. The seventh invention by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey is named the Computeur Mécanique, a remarkable device inside the Quantième Perpétuel à Équation watch. Like an electronic computer, this unit processes a vast amount of astronomical data to calculate and display all the indications of the perpetual calendar, namely time, date, day, month, year in four digits, equinoxes, solstices, and the equation of time. An amazing feat, considering that everything is mechanical, driven purely by the energy stored in the mainspring, and that the Mechanical Computer has just 25 carefully-engineered parts in a co-axial arrangement. The system was inspired by the large astronomical clocks built since the late 15th century, but those were devices about 2 metres high, while Greubel Forsey’s version fits into a 43.5-mm watchcase. In the image below, the Compteur Mécanique:

compteur

The equation of time is one of the rarest astronomical complications, but a logical addition to a perpetual calendar watch. The length of one day is conventionally fixed at 24 hours, but the real duration of the day varies – from 16 minutes longer to 14 minutes shorter – according to the position of the earth on its orbit around the sun. In the Quantième Perpétuel à Équation timepiece, the equation of time is displayed by an innovative system powered by the Mechanical Computer, with two sapphire crystal discs that rotate independently, showing not only the difference in time between solar and mean time, but also the equinoxes and solstices. The result is a piece of pure visual poetry, a dazzling example of how the finest watchmakers take inspiration from the vast reaches of outer space and distil the movements of the heavenly bodies into their tiny masterpieces of micro-mechanical engineering. Below, three images of the Quantième Perpétuel à Équation:

GF07

GF07 caseback

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A watch unveiled in Geneva this year provides another example of Robert Greubel’s and Stephen Forsey’s unique approach to time. The Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision presents their third invention, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes, in a slim case, their thinnest to date, in which the space necessary for the tourbillon is provided by a dome in the sapphire crystal on the back of the watch. It is perfectly comfortable to wear, as the watch was ergonomically designed and the dome projects by just 2.4 mm. As in all Greubel Forsey watches, finish is at the highest possible levels of quality, and the arched lower tourbillon bridge is discreetly signed by the craftsman who made it. The visual elegance of this watch invites the user to observe the constant beating of the tourbillon in its light well, and to turn the piece over to see the superb movement visible through the caseback. As usual, not a watch for everyone: just 22 pieces will be made. Below, two images of the Tourbillon 24 Secondes:

24 secondes

tourbilon detail