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September 27, 2021

Greubel Forsey: GMT Sport, New Limited Edition In Red Gold : A True Contemporary Art Masterpiece

Greubel Forsey is to watchmaking what Damien Hirst is to contemporary art. Not so much for their attitude – Hirst’s is obviously much more provocative – but for the competition spirit, as solo as triumphant, that both are running in their respective sectors. In the specific case of the professional union between Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, dated 2004, that can be seen in the numbers that certify absolute excellence, with a hundred-or-so watches produced every year, made by 120 employees and with as many as 36 workers in the finishing department alone (simply crazy and, in some cases, probably unique: just think of the various relief engravings that we find on various models of the collection – on the dial, bezel and case middle – in reference to the founding values of the brand). At this point, a question arises spontaneously: how does a company manage to survive with these numbers? The answer is just as simple. It speaks to a worldwide clientele that wants only the best without taking into consideration the economic aspect; and therefore, for these enthusiasts, it is quite natural to not even blink an eye when faced with a catalog featuring prices starting from 200 thousand euros and reaching well over a million euros.

A SOUL FROM NINETEETH CENTURY WHICH CARRIED THE TOURBILLON INTO THE FUTURE

Among the various fil rouge threading the work of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, the primary one is linked to the tourbillon – invented, as everybody knows, by Abraham-Louis Breguet, with a patent dated June 26, 1801 – which the La Chaux-de-Fonds masters have completely re-imagined with astonishing and jaw-dropping solutions that make us whisper an ecstatic “wow”, such as the Tourbillon 24 Secondes – encased between 12 and 2 o’clock on the watch we are presenting in this article – with its cage inclined at 25° and which completes one complete rotation in precisely 24 seconds; or as the Double Tourbillon 30° or the Quadruple Tourbillon. The mechanical significance of this strange regulating organ is now famous – it improves running precision by counteracting the effects of gravity on the movement, etc., etc. – but equally famous is the fact that its buyers acquire it probably more for the aesthetic contemplation of this hypnotic exercise in absolute horological savoir-faire.

Greubel Forsey GMT Sport 5N Red Gold

VARIATION ON THE THEME “SPORTS WATCH”, ACCORDING YO GREUBEL FORSEY’S STANDARDS

Compared to the original titanium GMT Sport with blue details – now sold out, and which stunned the watchmaking world two years ago with its never-seen-before curved and ovoidal case shapes that we wrote about here – the new version is embellished with red gold on the case and globe, titanium remaining only on the caseband, crown, pushers and on the deployant clasp, for a truly powerful aesthetic combination that will inevitably make the 11 pieces of this new limited edition highly sought after. 

Greubel Forsey GMT Sport 5N Red Gold

The three-dimensional aesthetics of the dial – amazing in its own way, just as for every Greubel Forsey – remains the same as the first limited edition, with hours and minutes in the center on the arched bridge; a second time zone positioned on the dial between 10 and 11 o’clock; and, below, a globe (with a North Pole view) that completes a complete counter-clockwise rotation in 24 hours, displaying universal time and local time for all longitudes (an indication that is also replicated on the caseback where universal time and that of the 24 time zones are featured). 

Adding to its theatrical quality: the 72-hour power reserve at 3 o’clock. The water resistance, to testify to the sportiness of the model, comes up to 100 meters. While the list price, a truly negligible detail for this category of watches, is 500 thousand euros.

INTELLIGENT ADVERTISING IS THE SOUL OF BUSINESS 

In the introduction, we compared Greubel Forsey to the artist Damien Hirst, one of the great provocateurs of the contemporary world scene. The Swiss manufacturer is no slouch in this respect either. In 2019, just to give an example, the advertisement you see in the image appeared on the buses of Monte Carlo. Soul of business or not, advertising can be done well or badly, be banal and unintentionally ridiculous or clever and original. It depends on the skill of the professionals on whom you rely and on the sensitivity of the brands that commission it.

And, unfortunately, it is a well-known fact that high-end watchmaking does not excel in terms of brilliant communication, so much so that, in order to promote a brand that produces tens of thousands of pieces a year in a factory that actually looks much more like a very modern automobile factory with its assembly line, we are still faced with the misleading image of the fine craftsman bent over the antique wooden workbench manually decorating a watch in front of a window with a snowy high mountain panorama or the humdrum sprinkle of Lake Geneva. Not to mention the use of usual testimonials – actors, singers and famous sportspeople – who are then inevitably photographed wearing the watch of the rival brand in their private lives. Or worse, using influencers who wear the John brand today, the James brand tomorrow, and the Jack brand the day after. What exclusivity do messages like these convey? Obviously: none.

On the other hand, we adore the spirit of Greubel Forsey who, with the Art in Time boutique in Monte Carlo, has decided to cover Monaco buses with an 800,000 euro watch ad! We love it because the spirit is right, consistent with the brand’s philosophy: originality and intelligence outside the box. With a clear vision that, however, behind that bus there may be, perhaps sitting in a Pagani or a Rolls Royce, the customer who will smile at that message and then fasten a Greubel Forsey on her wrist.

BY THE WAY, WHERE IS THE GREUBEL FORSEY BUYER BASED?

The market is global, with a prevalence of buyers based in the USA, Middle East and Russia. However, thanks to the data that Stefano Superchi has kindly provided us, through the Tempo Prezioso company – in charge of Greubel Forsey’s commercial activity in Italy, Malta and some stable African countries since the birth of the brand – we can give you a figure that may surprise you. That is to say that on our domestic market, since 2004 to date, 60 Greubel Forseys have been sold through a partnership with two stores located in the north and south of Italy, mostly to Italian customers. And in a fast-paced world where Italy has often lost competitiveness in many strategic sectors, it is good to know that we are still in the running as connoisseurs ofpremium watches. On the other hand, it is also true that many of the world’s great vintage watches collectors are Italian, celebrities like Sandro Fratini and Auro Montanari leading the way. And consequently, it is a pleasure to think that one of these 11 new Greubel Forsey GMT Sports in red gold may end up on the wrist of one of our fellow citizens, as lucky as he is a gourmet of fine watchmaking.

By Michele Mengoli