Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe Carbon: Hunting Perfection28 November 2023
If you go looking for one of the latest Watch Insanity articles about Greubel Forsey, you will come across the Balancier Convexe S2 Carbon. At the beginning of that story, we wrote that the lack of banality is one of this independent brand’s greatest characteristics. Repeating it again might be boring, but that’s exactly the feeling we had when shooting the Double Balancier Convexe Carbon with green dial.
A JOURNEY WHICH BEGAN IN 2007
Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey have never chosen an easy approach to watchmaking. Their will to experiment and their quest for absolute perfection and quality have led them over the years to invent solutions so innovative that they almost immediately required a patent. As in the case of the Double Balancier, which was copyrighted in 2007.
This model was first presented as “Experimental Watch Technology” or EWT. It was essentially a prototype, with two regulating organs superimposed and inclined at 20 degrees. Continuous research led, after a very short time, to a second version produced in an edition of only 6 pieces. Evolution had led the two regulating organs to be positioned on different three-dimensional planes and inclined at 35 degrees.
However, it was not until 2016 that Greubel Forsey presented the mechanism in its current form, which gave rise to the Double Balancier as we know it today. That movement had a double patent: two balance wheels arranged side by side, inclined at 30 degrees and divided by a constant spherical differential which calculates the average running rate.
A DISTINCTIVE CASE
Antonio Calce’s arrival at the head of Greubel Forsey in 2020 allowed the signature brand to capitalize on its undeniable strengths. Today, Calce takes the brand to another level, putting his mark on the timepieces and making them even more desirable.
Last year indeed, Greubel Forsey changed the skin of the Double Balancier again, creating the Double Balancier Convexe. The watch has adopted the convex case, made of titanium, which has now become one of the brand’s distinctive signs.
It’s the same case we saw on the Balancier Convexe S2. Here too, the side view of the case highlights how its entire profile is curved upwards, including the bezel and the sapphire crystal. A variable geometry approach that led to a complex shaping and finishing process, thanks to which the bezel appears flat when viewed from above.
The sapphire glass is shaped in the Greubel Forsey ateliers to follow a curving arc. However, it does not create any visual distortion or enlargement of the dial, an essential requirement to guarantee both a full view of its complex architecture and the readability of the information.
THE DOUBLE BALANCIER CONVEXE CARBON’S DIAL
Speaking of the dial, even on the Double Balancier Convexe Carbon it has an incredible depth, as the two balance wheels and the differential spread over more than half of it. In addition to the regulating organs, what steals the show is the gear train, which appears from the surface of the green bridge, providing further motion to the whole.
The bridge takes up the remaining part of the dial and moves it further thanks to its asymmetric shape, due to the presence of the barrel cover and the beveling caused by the central hours and minutes and the small seconds counter. The latter counterbalances the 4-minute hand in blued steel with a polished finish, which indicates the rotation speed of the constant spherical differential.
Back to the two balance wheels and the differential, they are positioned in the lower half of the dial and, as in the Greubel Forsey tradition, they are crafted individually. Their inclined planes contrast with the central bridge, built on multiple levels and skeletonized, supporting the hour and minute hands which seem to float above the movement.
The escapements are decorated with hand-polished countersinks and bevels, as are the flat differential and balance bridges. After all, within Greubel Forsey there is almost a sort of brand “procedural guideline” that does not compromise on the exceptional quality and aesthetics of the watches.
FROM TITANIUM TO CARBON
As written above, the peculiarity of this case is that it is made of carbon. It is the same transition that we saw in the Balancier Convexe S2 from the titanium case to this other super resistant material. Well known and appreciated, the shape of this convex case ensures that it fits perfectly on the wrist. Since the carbon fibers are never combined in the same way twice, the design of each Double Balancier Convexe Carbon is unique and makes the timepiece even more exclusive.
Also in this regard, to produce the carbon case developed by Greubel Forsey it is necessary to work with the material at a pressure 8 times higher than average: 16 tons per square centimeter compared to the 2 tons needed for a standard case.
Thanks to this mechanical power, the carbon of this case is much denser than normal carbon, with an almost identical weight. A carbon which is flexible and solid at the same time, with fibers that have a thickness between 1 and 5 microns, making them perfectly defined.
Compared to the Double Balancier Convexe in titanium, the case of this carbon version has a smaller diameter: it downsizes from 43.5 mm to 42.5 mm. The thickness is 13.75 mm, which becomes 14.35 with the sapphire crystal. The curving of the case makes this depth go completely unnoticed.
THE DOUBLE BALANCIER CONVEXE CARBON’S MOVEMENT
The movement is a hand-wound caliber assembled with 371 components and equipped with a 72-hour power reserve. It features a two coaxial series-coupled fast-rotating barrels which complete 1 rotation in 3.2 hours. One of the barrels is equipped with a sliding spring to avoid excess tension. The movement beats at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations/hour and has a variable-inertia balance wheel with six adjustment screws.
In terms of finishes, the caliber of the Double Balancier Convexe Carbon leaves nothing to chance. The bridges and plates on the dial side are in titanium, with satin-finished and polished bevels and flares, and green (as for our shooting’s protagonist) or black treatment depending on the version. The same attention is payed to the polished bevels and countersinks on the skeletonized multi-level central bridge.
Greubel Forsey has pursued the same quality as well when it comes to the finishing of the caliber on the movement side, visible through the curved sapphire crystal case back. The differential bridge is flat and in shiny black steel, while the main plate is in gold engraved with the number of the limited series, beveled and flared with straight grained sides.
Finally, the strap that replaces the previous edition’s titanium bracelet is not ordinary. It is made of non-animal material: textured rubber. The folding clasp is in titanium and carbon, engraved with the GF logo.
HUNTING FOR PERFECTION
Like all watches designed by Greubel Forsey, the Double Balancier Convexe Carbon comes in a limited edition. Only 44 pieces will be produced, 22 with the green dial, and the same number for the black one. The price is 348.000 euros.
Undoubtedly the green version seen in our shooting is the most fascinating one. Maybe because this iridescent finish incorporates various shades of blue on the bridge, main plate and hour ring. Maybe because green is a contemporary color. Certainly, with this watch the brand has managed to push the limit of its excellence even further, balancing aesthetics and technique at the highest level.
At the beginning we noted that, with their watchmaking creations, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey are in constant search of perfection. Antonio Calce’s excellence-driven approach has undeniably been noticed and comes as a continuity of the work already accomplished. With the Double Balancier Convexe Carbon, Greubel Forsey gets pretty close to this quest for perfection. We can’t wait to see the next novelties that this extraordinary brand will unveil.
By Davide Passoni