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January 30, 2023

Greubel Forsey Balancier S: l’arte dell’equilibrio

Balance itself is the good.” This sentence written by Haruki Murakami could be used by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey as a payoff for their Balancier S. Not only because the name Balancier, which means balance wheel, brings to mind balance, but above all because this watch is a synthesis of form and substance that consolidates the road to sportiness that the two master watchmakers have undertaken for some years.

Greubel Forsey Balancier S

Although their partnership is heading quickly towards twenty years, the sporting turning point is quite recent. After giving life to masterpieces of technique and elegance such as the Tourbillon 24 Secondes, the Quadruple Tourbillon and the Double Tourbillon 30°, in 2019 the two men amazed the watchmaking world by launching the GMT Sport, with its case featuring sculptural lines, a synthesis of ergonomics, sturdiness and comfort that we have seen renewed this year at Watches & Wonders Geneva.

SYNTHESIS OF VALUES

The Balancier S is part of this innovative line – innovation which is already evident from the shapes. From Greubel Forsey one never expects something already seen, but in the case of the Balancier S the “wow effect” is guaranteed. The titanium case, water resistant to 100 meters, appears circular from above, but it has a unique arched ovoid shape from other angles. A harmonious and surprising ensemble with integrated lugs and strap, and satin bezel.

Greubel Forsey Balancier S

The latter bears engraved the key values of Greubel Forsey, which we already find in other watches of the previous collections and that are also found on the caseback ring, which is in sapphire crystal almost completely filled with the three parts of the main plate: “perfection, technicité, harmonie, savoir-faire, oeuvre, inventeurs horlogers, exclusivité, univers original, bienfacture, architecture”.

Greubel Forsey Balancier S

THE CALANCIER S AT A GLANCE

Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey know how to play with the attention and passion of those who love their watches. Precisely for this reason, the function of the bezel is also to bring the wearer’s eye towards the dial – which is the visual translation of the concept of balance that belongs to the two masters. It is protected by an oval, arched sapphire crystal which follows the curvature of the case. The power reserve indicator – engraved and lacquered – on a sector at 2 o’clock using an openworked red-tipped hand, the central hours and minutes display, with profiled and openworked polished steel hands, and a small seconds gold subdial on the inclined plane of the escapement at 8 o’clock stand out against the background of the black plate (which also exists in a gray version).

Greubel Forsey Balancier S

Above all, however, there are very obvious suspended arched bridges holding an inclined gear train and curved central hour and minute hands, to follow the profile of the watch. These elements integrate and extend over the inclined balance wheel, evident and impacting at 7 o’clock, giving the timepiece its powerful identity, but also assuring its outstanding chronometric performance.

CHRONOMETRY – GREUBEL FORSEY’S OBSESSION

Because, as with the other watches of the brand, the added value of the Balancier S also lies above all in the chronometry. And, of course, in the large inclined balance wheel. It maximizes the space offered by the arched case and sapphire crystal and it introduces a new approach to chronometry, based on their large balance wheel unveiled in 2016. Entirely developed and made within the Greubel Forsey Atelier, this balance wheel is distinguished by its oversized 12.6 mm diameter, ensuring excellent timekeeping performance. To allow fine timekeeping adjustment of the moment of inertia, the balance wheel rim is fitted with six gold regulating screws, inset so as to limit air friction.

Greubel Forsey Balancier S

The balance wheel has been tested in the Greubel Forsey EWT Laboratory, insuring its reliability and chronometric performance at all times. But what is the EWT Laboratory?

It’s a kind of “secret laboratory”, a melting pot of ideas where the watchmakers take the time to experiment in order to better understand the initial idea, carry out the first tests, and proceed to the process of approving an invention, which will then be applied (directly or indirectly) to the mechanisms of new timepieces.

Greubel Forsey Balancier S
Greubel Forsey Balancier S

The new hand-wound caliber that powers the Balancier S has several pending patents and counts on two coaxial barrels mounted in series, which ensure a power reserve of 72 hours, in line with the performance expected from those who wear a sports watch. All the components of the movement come from the traditional and irreplaceable artisanal know-how of the Greubel Forsey Atelier, where frosting, polished bevels and countersinks, circular and straight graining highlight even the smallest surfaces of the caliber. In the Balancier S, the use of titanium for the mainplate and bridges proved much more difficult for manual hand-finishing than steel or even nickel silver, and further increases the technical and aesthetic challenge that this timepiece represents.

BUT LET’S NOT FORGET AESTHETICS

Speaking of aesthetics, let’s go back to where we started: the case. Because the caliber and the mechanics are everything, but without a high-hend habillage, not even the most surprising watch can seduce anyone. It is in titanium with rubber inserts, as the crown is, and plays a lot on the dimensions: if you look at the bezel, it has a diameter of 45 mm, while the caseband measures 43 mm. The rubber is also found on the strap (after all it is a sports watch), which is flexible and resistant and completed by a folding clasp in titanium as well.

Greubel Forsey Balancier S

The Balancier S therefore fits fully into Greubel Forsey’s sporting line. A sui generis sportiness, of course, that is expected from a brand whose payoff is “Art of Invention”. Inventing new ways to make chronometry more and more precise without distorting its philosophy while extending this precision to new crowds of enthusiasts is a challenge that Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey intend to pursue for many years. With a watch like this, they’ve already won.

By Davide Passoni