At the beginning of SIHH 2019, I published the press release of the Greubel Forsey Balancier Contemporain. The 39.6mm size, the first watch in such a small print for the independent brand, raised a series of difficulties overcome by the experienced watchmakers in years. The Greubel Forsey Balancier Contemporain has a bigger version, in 41.6mm, with a diamond set. This is a philosophical review, praising the quality of Greubel Forsey.
Diamond Set Balancier Contemporain
Since 2004, when Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey teamed up and launched Greubel Forsey, the world is a better place. Creativity and excellence are words that fairly describe the brand’s approach of fine watchmaking. The independent duo creates pieces in the highest echelon of high-end watchmaking. Witness to that stay the numerous prizes the brand received. The brand creates under 100 pieces per year, but push further and further the limits of quality, innovation and creativity.
Every Greubel Forsey watch is an art piece. The Balancier Contemporain makes no exception. So pushed by the brand’s quest of perfection, I started a quest on my own – finding perfection and the flows. To make things difficult, I selected the diamond set piece.
You’re a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy. So shine bright…
My personal feeling over the Greubel Forsey cases is that they were just made to accustom the fabulous movements, keeping the same level of extraordinary, of course. Just remember the GMT Earth. But the cases are always exceptional finished. Exceptional enough not to have the impression that is a detail left behind. Elegant and simple enough not to shadow the movement.
So what happens when you add diamonds to a Greubel Forsey case? It will manage to reduce the spark, to overshadow the movement? My feeling – never. I feel, with the Balancier Contemporain in my hands, that the inner beauty is just better highlighted. Did the diamonds version make the pure metal Greubel Forsey piece boring or dull? Never!
Is just a momentary lapse of reason? No! Watches, like any other object these days, are for the right people. There will always be the right people to wish and to buy the right watches. And thank all deities for that. Because we all benefit from this. Without crazy people to wish for crazy things, we all would still be staying in caves, running from the thunders.
The 41.6mm white gold case of the Balancier Contemporain is architectural. The variable shape lugs bring a touch of charm to the diamond set case. In the picture above can be easily observed the raised bezel with high domed synthetic sapphire crystal. The entire exterior package of this watch is sublime. The case invites you to observe its sinuous lines, invisible setting and its remarkable beauty.
“Here’s looking at you, kid.”
I am starting the next chapter with the words of Rick Blaine from Casablanca. What I have in mind are the dial and the movement – the one and same entity in this case. The truest and visible proof of Greubel Forsey ingenuity and expertise can be seen on the front of the Balancier Contemporain.
The multi-depth architecture and the noteworthy finishes are revealed effortlessly directly from the dial. Multi-level in gold and mother-of-pearl with a large visual opening for the balance wheel. Overall, polished bevels are visible in various angles and sizes.
All the dials elements are in contrast with the Nickel silver, frosted and spotted mainplate. The mainplate has perfect straight-grained flanks and was enriched with a nickel-palladium treatment for a spectacular appearance.
Small seconds sub-dial is placed discretely between 8 and 9 o’clock. Manufactured in gold and mother-of-pearl, the indication suffers from a subtle polished bevel.
The staggering 72 hours power reserve is expressed on a large area of the dial. The implementation uses an unusually long hand. The register is engraved and lacquered: the Arabic numeral on the exterior frosted surface and the indexes on a sunk brushed surface.
Unfortunately, the picture above does not serve the beauty of the time display. In reality, the mother of pearl is gorgeous. Observable are the above average finishes of the gold minutes’ rail track: a chamfered and polished side on which other details of the movement are reflected.
The art behind the visible
The other face of the watch is an art piece that lies hidden from the eyes of strangers. Under a transparent back with high domed synthetic sapphire crystal, similar to the one on the top, it is visible the mainplate filled with engravings. A signature key of many Greubel Forsey timepieces.
A central gold plate with “GF” logo and engraved with the individual number rules the centre of the movement’s back.
The Greubel Forsey Balancier Contemporain can be manufactured in white gold or in 18k 5N red gold. The watch can be assorted with an Alligator or rubber strap featuring a white gold or 18k 5N red pin buckle adorned with a hand-engraved with the GF logo.
Le bon Dieu est dans le détail
“The good God is in the detail” – is generally attributed to Gustave Flaubert, the author of Madame Bovary. The level of details and finishes preceed even the brand’s innovations. There is no doubt that this independent brand is one of the greatest contemporary watchmaking entity. I love their watches for the technical beauty. The finishes are just the cherry on the top. Something sweet and tasty that is just a sample of the entire cake.
I am not a diamond guy… I say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But I would wear it? – Yes, definitively!
Returning to the main title: “in search of perfection”, the question remains. Is this a perfect watch? The answer is no, by far. There are so many things that can be improved (maybe in the future). But I dare you, can you find something better than this? I will also answer this question: something different, yes. But better?
Greubel Forsey Balancier Contemporain Technical Specifications
• Diameter: 32.40 mm
• Thickness: 9.20 mm
Number of parts
• Movement: 255 parts
Number of jewels
• Olived-domed jewels in gold chatons
Chronometric power reserve
• 72 hours
• Two series-coupled fast rotating barrels (1 turn in 3.2 hours), one of which is equipped with a slipping spring to avoid excess tension
• Barrel with relief engraving “Greubel Forsey”
• In-house variable-inertia with 6 gold mean-time screws (12.60 mm diameter)
• Stop balance activated by the crown
• 21’600 vibrations/hour
• Phillips terminal curve
• Geneva-style stud
• Nickel silver, frosted and spotted, straight-grained flanks, nickel-palladium treatment
• Nickel silver, frosted and spotted with polished bevelling and countersinks, straight-grained flanks, nickel-palladium treatment
• Flat black polished steel balance wheel bridge, hand-polished bevelling and countersinks, straight-grained flanks
• Flat black polished gold plate on the movement side with relief engraved text, polished bevelling and countersinks, straight-grained flanks with apparent gold chatons
• Central gold plate, “GF” engraved with the individual number
• Involute circle profile
• Hours and minutes
• Small seconds
• 72-hours power reserve on a sector
• In white gold or in 18k 5N red gold with a high domed synthetic sapphire crystal
• Bezel and caseband, invisibly set with baguette-cut diamonds
• Three-dimensional, variable geometry-shaped lugs, invisibly set with baguette-cut diamonds
• Transparent back with high domed synthetic sapphire crystal
• Raised polished engraving “Balancier” and “Greubel Forsey” on a hand-punched background
• Gold security screws
• Hand-engraved individual number
• Diameter: 41.60 mm
• Height: 12.25 mm
Water resistance of the case
• Water-resistant 3 atm – 30 m – 100 ft (standard NIHS 92-20/SN ISO 22810:2010)
• In white gold or in 18k 5N red gold with engraved and black lacquered GF logo, invisibly set with baguette-cut diamonds
• Multi-level in gold and mother-of-pearl with a visual opening for the balance wheel, polished bevel
• Small seconds in gold and mother-of-pearl, polished bevels
• Power-reserve in gold, engraved and black lacquered, hand matt lapped
• Hours, minutes, small seconds and power-reserve in polished gold, hand-polished countersinks
Strap and clasp
• Alligator or rubber
• White gold or 18k 5N red pin buckle, hand-engraved with the GF logo
IF / D-E quality diamonds and carats
• 232 baguette-cut diamonds / 9.58 ct total
• Caseband and lugs: 160 baguette-cut diamonds / 6.21 ct
• Bezel: 60 baguette-cut diamonds / 3.06 ct
• Crown: 12 baguette-cut diamonds / 0.31 ct
For more information, please visit the Greubel Forsey Website.