Building on the success of its first sports model GMT Sport from last year, Greubel Forsey again shows its sportier side with the new Balancier S – a timepiece that brings a more leisurely air to the brand’s haute horlogerie signature. The watch is water-resistant to 100 meters and fitted with an integrated rubber strap – two details that up until recently you wouldn’t have associated with Greubel Forsey, whose timepieces have always striven for a more serious tone. It’s also one of the highlight pieces from 24 watch brands that will be exhibiting at the WatchTime Live virtual collectors’ event on October 22-24.
The new timepiece riffs on the Balancier Contemporain from 2019 and borrows designs codes from its sporty sibling the GMT Sport, but the Balancier S is very much its own beast. The case may seem familiar to those who have handled the GMT Sport, with its unique, arched ovoid shape and integrated lugs and strap making for an ergonomically designed wristwatch.
Unlike the Balancier Contemporain, which was the first Greubel Forsey wristwatch under 40 mm, the Balancier S is no shrinking violet. At its widest (bezel diameter), the case measures 45 mm, with a height (with the curved sapphire crystal) of 15.60 mm, but the watch only weights 110 grams, including the rubber strap, thanks to its use of titanium. Even the screws that hold things together on the case are made from titanium.
The satin-finished bezel engraved with Greubel Forsey’s key values dips and arches around the edges of the case. The rubber inserts on the crown and caseband ensure excellent grip, but they can also be changed easily to match the color of the rubber strap. When viewed from above, the case may appear circular, but it is distinctly an ovoid from other angles.
The multiplane dial sees the return of two key elements. The GMT Sport’s suspended-arch central bridge that holds the curved gear train and curved hour and minutes hands is back, as is the large balance wheel (12.6 mm) first seen on the original Balancier unveiled at SIHH 2017. The surfaces have a frosted finish and the escapement platform (which holds the balance wheel, hairspring and escapement) is set at a 30-degree angle from the horizontal plane of the movement. This inclined construction offsets the effects of gravity on the accurate running of the movement.
Greubel Forsey timepieces are renowned for their immaculate finishing techniques, all executed by hand. Consider the multi-level titanium balance wheel bridge, for example: it is black-polished at the top but the surface is circular grained as it slopes downward and the base is again black-polished. The interplay of brushed and polished surfaces play off the light well on the dial. The arched central bridge has black-polished edges and a blackened center area, the openworked hands also have a black-polished finish and red lacquered tips that really pop on the dial. A power-reserve indicator is placed near the 1 o’ clock position while a rhodium-plated-gold small seconds dial sits snugly next to the large balance wheel. A twin barrel connected in series ensures a power reserve of 72 hours.
The exhibition caseback again showcases the atelier’s impressive finishing skills. The titanium bridges have a frosted finish and raised, black-polished edges. Expect to see polished bevels and countersinks, circular and straight graining highlighting even the smallest surfaces. It’s not easy finishing titanium surfaces by hand, so it’s no surprise that it takes about two months for a craftsman to work through one of these movements.
The watch is paired with a rubber strap fasted by a titanium folding clasp to reinforce its sporty character. Limited to just 18 pieces, this exclusive timepiece is priced at CHF 195,000.
A version of this article first appeared on WatchTime Middle East. To learn more about WatchTime Live, its sponsoring watch brands, and details on its schedule of presentations and panels, and to sign up for tickets to the event, click here.