[Hands-On] Greubel Forsey Carves A New Path With Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture

Spoiler alert, this is not an affordable watch. What this Greubel Forsey lacks in accessibility, it makes up for in pure theatrics and craft. Meet the all-new Architecture, a watch that dials up the drama in full view from every angle thanks to the stunning movement that seamlessly blends with the dial, and plenty of sapphire windows through which to observe it. The Architecture features a unique 24-second tourbillon set at a 25° incline, a move we’ve seen before from Greubel Forsey, and while it’s no less impressive here, it is placed within a movement that introduces a new design language for the brand.

Let’s be clear, this is not a skeletonized or open worked dial. You’re peering into the bowels of the movement here, providing a 3 dimensional experience from which a set of hands blossom from a tall tripod bridge. Titanium bridges are beautifully finished archways that suspend the workings of the movement, and each of those components feels bespoke to the watch, because they are. The  resulting display is cavernous, with layers of detail to discover and enjoy under a loupe. And believe me, this is a movement that stands up remarkably well under a loupe, which is pretty much required to fully appreciate the work that’s gone into every surface, countersink, and angle of the movement.

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The arched barrel bridge at 10’clock supports one of the focal points, a circular grained barrel cover with a concentric dot design bringing a new Ikepod-eque vibe to the part that’s new to Greubel Forsey. The barrel cover contains three coaxial series-coupled barrels, providing 90 hours of chronometric reserve. That reserve is tracked via an indication at 3 o’clock, with all the gears linking it to the barrel on display underneath. 

At 6 o’clock we find the most dramatic element of a watch not short on drama, which is the inclined tourbillon based within a spherical openworked bridge whose base is hidden underneath the baseplate. The enclosure makes a full rotation in just 24 seconds, exactly 3,600 times each day, and is visible from multiple angles around the case. The inclination and quick rotation speed improve the tourbillon’s ability to counter the effects of gravity, and contribute, even if only slightly, to the chronometric accuracy of the watch. Plus, you know, it looks really cool. A small subsidiary dial joins the tourbillon, where a red point marks off the running seconds at a more familiar pace of one rotation per minute. 

As impressive as the movement is, our ability to enjoy it is bolstered by the unique case shape and construction. This case is convex in profile, and defies any normal unit of measurement you’re likely to apply to it. It resembles a conical frustum, but with subtle curvature applied, making it far more appealing than what you’re remembering from geometry class. It measures 47mm at the bottom, and 45mm at the top, but the diameter is listed at 50mm. Visually, it looks like a sapphire pillow has been placed within a titanium frame, providing viewing windows at case sides and between the variable geometry lugs that flow seamlessly into the rubber strap.

This is a large watch containing a movement that boasts 354 parts, and while it is indeed quite visually dense, it’s almost disconcertingly light on the wrist. Not that I’d dare judge a watch like this through any practical lens, but it is indeed, wearable. Legibility is another story, as the finely finished hands get a little lost in the view of the city underneath them, but I imagine the eventual owners will enjoy the hunt should they need a read on the time. 

Around the periphery of the dial you’ll find engraved the Greubel Forsey values that inspire such creations: Architecture, Harmonie, Innovation, Technique, Bienfacture, Passion, Science, Exclusivité, Créativité. With these words in mind, it’s difficult to frame the object as a watch, and I’d wager that anyone willing to shell out the $500,000 to buy one feels the same way. It is a representation of those 9 words in every way, and it also tells the time. 

Greubel Forsey will produce 11 Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture watches this year, and 18 per year until 2025, with a total of 65 planned for production. Greubel Forsey.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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