Making Waves: Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique

by Joshua Munchow

 Ocean waves are a powerful force. Surging and retreating, waves can deliver thousands of gigawatts of potential energy around the world every year, with a single fifteen-meter wave delivering up to 1.7 megawatts (that’s enough to power around 1,000 homes for a year).

But that is the rub: all waves are different and they are hard to predict without knowing the precise conditions that created them.

Most surface waves are wind waves, swells caused by wind moving across the surface of the water. Since wind doesn’t usually blow in a constant speed or direction and the topography of the ocean floor varies constantly, waves from different origin points interfere with each other so the waves that hit the shore are always different. Sure, they are similar, with swells coming in that have average wave heights and periods, but each wave is different.

Waves may look similar and you can tell they were probably caused by same windstorm out on the ocean, but there is enough variability in physics to make each wave unique.

As a result, to any surfer, swimmer, or beach goer the waves vary and their response to the waves along with it. Depending on what you want (nice bobbing about in the shallows or a curling tube to shred on your surfboard), you would have different opinions of each wave. They all are extremely powerful, but people might react to the same wave with both, “Oh, that last one was better,” and “that one was too much for me.”

This reminds me of Greubel Forsey.

Seriously, just go with it.

Greubel Forsey is like the ocean: deep, expansive, majestic, and completely awe inspiring. The boutique brand’s watches are like the waves in that they regularly excite and thrill.

And just like the wave examples above, watch fans will react differently to each new Greubel Forsey model based on what they want. Some people want a large wave complication so powerful it intimidates, while others want a nice safe timepiece that can be enjoyed without stress.

Every model that Greubel Forsey releases is like the varying ocean waves, some small and some large. On the one hand you have the smaller waves like the Signature 1 or the Vision, symmetrical round cases with relatively normal designs meant to please those who want an exquisite yet safe timepiece.

Then you have the large waves like the GMT, Invention Pieces, or the Double Tourbillon 30° Technique: wild and powerful watches that hit as hard as a 30-foot wave slamming into the reef.

That is why each new release can be divisive; different people have fallen in love with Greubel Forsey for different reasons.

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in red gold

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in red gold

One of the latest releases follows in this, the awesomazing Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique, the final edition of the Tourbillon 24 Secondes in the Asymétrique style. There could still be editions in the Contemporain and Vision lines, but this is meant to be the last hurrah for the Asymétrique case style and this tourbillon.

Big waves

All Greubel Forsey watches are a bit different — like the waves of the ocean, — and each one represents something different, a unique goal. Continuing with the analogy, some pieces have both big wave and little wave features, which tends to mean people like some elements but not others.

The Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique has both.

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in platinum

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in platinum

Of course I love it all, but I’ll break it down for both sides.

The features that make this piece stand with the wild ones are first and foremost the large, 25-degree-inclined 24-second tourbillon inside the giant oculus at 8 o’clock. This is the defining feature of any Tourbillon 24 Secondes piece, perhaps aside from the Vision, which downplays this mechanical feature a bit.

The large opening in the dial also leads to the second wild feature: the “oddly” shaped asymmetrical case with viewing window in the case band. These are the features that mechanical nuts love about the brand and have come to define the wild side of Greubel Forsey.

Spectacular view through the caseband window into the tourbillon of the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in platinum

Spectacular view through the case band window into the tourbillon of the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in platinum

These are also the potentially more polarizing features. For some, the Vision and the Signature 1 feel more in line with a watch that can be worn every day. (Of course, I would say there are much less extravagant and expensive ways to find that.)

Adding to those features, the extensive use of engraved text on the case band (somewhat normal for Greubel Forsey) and now on a section of dial is a standout feature that has already become divisive among fans. Some deem it a bit over the top, others love the incredible texture it adds, not to mention the high precision and superb finishing.

Close up look dial side of the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in red gold

A close look dial side of the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in red gold

Micro-sized relief lettering is difficult enough, but finished crisply and cleanly requires even more patience. The dial lettering isn’t engraved, but rather galvanically grown on the sapphire crystal plate, allowing extremely precise near microscopic shapes to be made.

Regardless of your position on those features, they really are what stands out about the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique, making it the “big wave piece” it is.

But what about the other side, the subtle features that are smaller waves in the ocean of Greubel Forsey?

Small waves

These are pretty much the rest of the details on the watch, all the other little things that most can agree on and some want to see more of. Aside from the large opening for the inclined tourbillon, the dial is a black-and-white “split” face with simple markers and two disk-based indicators for power reserve and running seconds.

The simplicity of the dial components, even after the split face is likely intended to keep the textures and surfaces from becoming too overwhelming given the relatively simple dial (compared to something like the Technique).

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique

The power reserve and small seconds disks are clearly contemporary Greubel Forsey, but the simplicity of the indications in general is a nice counterpoint to the massive tourbillon and bulging case shape. This also keeps the dial from being busier than it needs to be, while perhaps also being a choice based on the inclusion of the large sapphire crystal plate of text on the dial.

Overall the dial lacks the extreme depth and structure of some Greubel Forsey pieces, which, in turn, puts this piece only just on the edge of the “more reserved” camp.

The flip side of the movement is probably the least controversial part of the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique as it is a prime example of the exquisite finishing that is indicative of all Greubel Forsey timepieces. The bridges are heavily frosted, giving them a strong texture to offset the perfectly polished bevels, countersinks, and chatons.

View through the display back of the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique: note the frosted finish, over-sized jewels, gold chatons and beautifully polished chamfers with sharp internal edges

View through the display back of the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique: note the frosted finish, oversized jewels, gold chatons, and beautifully polished chamfers with sharp internal edges

The wheels feature circular and sunray brushing, while the plates underneath are adorned with circular Geneva stripes and perlage, all held in place with perfectly finished blued screws.

An engraved gold plaque on the right side of the dial announces which of the Greubel Forsey inventions is included in this timepiece. The large sapphire crystal window into the movement includes the bulge of the case, reminding you that this watch comes from the Asymétrique line.

Waves are all from the same ocean

When viewed from a distance, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique looks like an interesting watch with an interesting dial, ensuring that it grabs attention. But once you get up close, it is clear that the details of the watch combine to create something more than noticed at first glance.

The big wave features crash into your eyes, wowing the WIS in all of us while the small wave features keep this a bit more “everyday wearable” than the pinnacle pieces from Greubel Forsey.

Back of the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in platinum

Back of the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in platinum

Of course, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique still is a Greubel Forsey pinnacle piece, tipping the scales at a cool half million, but it doesn’t have the same extravagant mechanical wizardy vibe as some of the others. It just feels easily wearable and not at all intimidating.

The Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique is a fitting end to a line as it features both old and new elements.

It surely wasn’t a phoned-in “let’s change the dial color and hands just to make it different” attempt. This is a unique wave in the ocean of Greubel Forsey.

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in red gold

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique in red gold

For myself, I love Greubel Forsey for the same reason I love and respect the ocean: it is a force of nature and it will be the salvation or destroyer of man’s fortunes.

In other words, I love it for what it is and ask nothing of it except that it keep doing its thing. Who am I to tell the ocean to stop making waves?

And with that, let’s break it down!

  • Wowza Factor * 9.79 Anything by Greubel Forsey will wow ya, and this one is no different. But that text, however divisive, is a fantastical feature for a dial!
  • Late Night Lust Appeal * 96.9 » 950.264 m/s2 The lust almost breaks one hundred Gs, or as much as a 15-meter wave crashing down at 60 miles per hour!
  • M.G.R. * 67.6 As Greubel Forsey movements go, this one is rather tame, but it lacks none of the street cred the brand has built. It is a very geeky movement to be sure!
  • Added-Functionitis * Mild Power reserve again for the win. Manual wind watches need one, so it is almost a must have. Still, with it being the only added complication you only need children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the limited horological swelling!
  • Ouch Outline * 11.9 Having a muscle fail right in the middle of carrying something expensive! This hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve seen enough fail videos for my mirror neurons to tell me how it feels! The question becomes: what would I be willing to painfully drop to get this watch on my wrist!?
  • Mermaid Moment * 24 seconds! Really, watching that inclined tourbillon spin around is about all the time it takes to fall in love with any Greubel Forsey! Now I just need to choose a china pattern and book a florist.
  • Awesome Total * 928 Multiply the days of power reserve (3) by the number components in the movement (302) and then add the number of pieces in the limited editions (22) and the result is a magnificently fitting awesome total!

For more information, please visit www.greubelforsey.com/sites/default/files/en_pr_tourbillon24seconde.

Quick Facts Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique
 
Case: 44 x 15.78 mm, red gold or platinum
 Movement: manual winding Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique caliber with 24-second tourbillon inclined at 25 degrees
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve indication
 Limitation: 22 pieces: 11 in red gold and 11 in platinum
 Price: $550,000

Originally published at Quill & Pad.