The Balancier Contemporain is the first wristwatch from Greubel Forsey to breach the sub-40-mm case width mark and will sit alongside the Signature 1 from 2016 and the Balancier from 2017 as the few non-tourbillon watches made by the boutique haute horology brand.
Best known for their large wristwatches featuring exotic tourbillons and three-dimensional movement architecture, the Balancier Contemporain features the same largish (12.6 mm) diameter balance wheel that was first seen on the Balancier unveiled at SIHH 2017. The original Balancier featured an asymmetrical 43.5-mm case that was 13.94 mm tall.
As the trend for smaller watches returns to the watch world, the big challenge for Greubel Forsey was to fit the large balance wheel, almost a third of the case width, and still achieves a sense of balance and proportion on the dial. It may be smaller, but this is still a Greubel Forsey timepiece, so the brand’s signature aesthetic codes like a three-dimensional movement architecture and high quality finishing still remain.
The white gold case has a mix of polished and brushed surfaces and measures 39.6 mm in width and is 12.2 mm high, easily the most wearable Greubel Forsey yet. The case features a polished bezel and lugs, a satin-brushed caseband and is fitted with a box-like sapphire crystal on the dial side. A domed sapphire crystal is also fitted on the caseback and the watch is paired with a hand-sewn alligator leather strap secured by a white gold pin buckle hand-engraved with the brand logo.
The brand’s unique movement architecture brings a lot of depth to the open-worked dial. The offset hours and minutes hand appears at 2 o’ clock and time is indicated by blued steel hands with hand-polished countersinks and flat polished centers. The steel tripod that supports the hands offers a glimpse of the gear train and the frosted nickel silver bridges beneath. A power reserve indicator with a blued steel hand sits on a hand-frosted bridge placed one level lower than the open-worked dial.
One tier below this is the small seconds hand supported by a frosted and beveled bridge that provides a glimpse of the engraved and gilded barrel drum. At 6 o’ clock a slim black polished bridge holds up the brand’s signature balance wheel set against a mirror-polished white gold bridge. The balance wheel’s rim is fitted with six gold mean-time screws for fine chronometric adjustment.
The manual winding movement is made up of 255 components. Two barrels connected in series provide a power reserve of 72 hours. One of the barrels is equipped with a slipping spring to avoid excess winding, a feature often seen in self-winding watches. The center of the caseback features an engraved circular red gold plate bearing the GF logo and the individual limited edition number. A white gold bridge, relief-engraved with key Greubel Forsey values and black polished, surrounds it. Olive-domed jewels in gold chatons with polished counter sinks punctuate this caseback.
For all its technical ingenuity and masterful finishing, Greubel Forsey watches have predominantly been too big for people with smaller wrists. This new release sets that anomaly right. The Balancier Contemporain is a limited edition of 33 pieces and is priced at CHF195,000.