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Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Joining the sapphire-cased transparence craze today is the Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire, a limited run of just 8 pieces which wrap one of the master watchmaker duo’s most impressive calibers into a sapphire sandwich.

Haute horlogerie may still be a great deal about intricate finishing and age-old complications, but some of the more modern players in the industry have not been shying away from using the latest manufacturing techniques to spice their “high watchmaking” offerings up a bit. We have seen black-coated pieces, different types of carbon fiber used for cases and dials, even… You get where I’m going. More recently, though, it’s been all about sapphire – an old-new material for watchmaking. Old because it’s been used for front and back crystals for longer than we care to remember, and new because it was only very recently that manufacturing techniques have allowed for the crafting of more complexly shaped components.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey has used sapphire in a novel way before – but they weren’t too loud about it at the time. Used for a unique sapphire bridge and dial, they experimented with sapphire in more novel and complicated ways in their Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporaine (hands-on here). Now, however, they have taken things to the next level as the sandwich construction of the case – meaning the case-back, the case band (or middle section), as well as the one-piece bezel and front element – are all crafted from this highly scratch-resistant material.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

There sure is plenty of eye candy to call for your attention on the Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire, but it’s an oftentimes less prominent element that caught my eye first: the lugs. I might have a developing medical case of lug-affection (a very watch-nerd-specific illness, I presume), but it genuinely wasn’t the 396-part movement or the frantically spinning double-tourbillon that stood out most for me upon first sight. It really was the lugs.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

There is this complex, curved, and in fact concave-shaped lug design that is rather unique to Greubel Forsey, even though it is probably one of the least-interesting-sounding parts of a Greubel Forsey timepiece… And yet, to see this crafted in sapphire was what stood out to me at first sight. I presume you will not be surprised if I say: “But wait, there’s more!”

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Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

As I mentioned, the case is composed of three main components, each of which should be read in the voice of a television spokesman: Pure sapphire! You don’t see – let alone touch – any large metallic parts, it is just the silky smoothness of sapphire, interrupted eight times in the bezel and case-back by the revealed heads of the tiny screws which keep the sapphire sandwich from slipping into pieces like a Big Mac after the first bite.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Additional and indeed rather neat details include the side wall of the movement that has been boldly engraved with some of the slogans we have gotten used to seeing from Greubel Forsey. The sapphire crystal crown, which feels buttery smooth and yet extremely precise upon winding the 2-2 mainsprings packed into the two stacked mainspring barrels, as well as the “secret text” in relief on the back of the black rubber strap. Speaking of the strap, the DT Technique Sapphire will come with the pictured black rubber strap, a transparent rubber strap, and what I think it will probably look the best on, a black crocodile leather strap.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The bezel and front crystal, as well as the case-back and its frame, are both crafted from just one solid piece of sapphire each. The tricky part is the case-band or middle segment, which has been machined but then painstakingly hand-finished to create those uniquely shaped lugs that I went on about recently.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Truth be told, the sapphire case suppliers – because make no mistake, almost all brands have to rely on specialized suppliers to have these cases made for their specifications – did have plenty to work with here: the Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire is a whopping 49.95 millimeters wide and a more acceptable 17.15 millimeters thick. The Double Tourbillon movement with its 393 parts, 4- and 1-minute rotation times and 12.15-millimeter thickness remained structurally unmodified from previous DT Technique pieces – so it is only the case that got substantially larger when compared to previous iterations.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

On the wrist, the 49.95-millimeter Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire delivers no surprises: it’s too large for a wrist like mine that mother nature designed for <44-millimeter-wide timepieces. It is objectively large and flashy, and while I guess you could describe more than a few of Greubel Forsey’s previous creations with those adjectives, this Sapphire edition really takes things to the next level.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

When going hands-on with this new piece, I had the chance to chat a bit with Stephen Forsey about the importance of not stepping over that fine line that stands between pushing the boundaries of what’s technically possible, and what is morally (ahem!) acceptable today in the luxury watch industry. The thing with this particular package from GF right here is that on the inside it is quite clearly still a one-hundred-percent original, blue-blooded Greubel Forsey creation. Let’s not forget that it was the Double Tourbillon caliber that they managed to tweak to such staggering chronometric performance that they won the International Chronometry Competition with it a few years ago, scoring an unprecedented 915 points out of the 1,000 maximum, with a stable and indeed meticulously tested timekeeping accuracy of far below 1 second per day.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The decidedly three-dimensional structure of the movement is as impressive as ever. Upon first look, you may take it for a skeletonized movement but it really isn’t that. Sure, some bridges and cocks have been skeletonized, but there are entire plates and bridges completely missing from the movement, leaving vast open spaces and a lot of perceivable depth right in the center of the dial. Designed from the ground up to be like this, it takes a little while to be able to appreciate how this is different to a movement that has been designed to be of a more ordinary construction, and just hollowed out wherever possible.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

This final color scheme that they went for on the bridges and other components works brilliantly when it comes to highlighting the sapphire case that really pops and stands out from the rest of the prominent aesthetic elements of the Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire. Most of the larger, flat surfaces have been “frost-finished” by hand to create a textured, bumpy-looking surface, only for these to be then beveled on the edges and finally to be coated to a rich black color. You can spot this rarely used (because it genuinely is a pain in the neck – and hand, and whatever else – to do) traditional finishing technique under the modern, stealthy black coating – so this mixture of modern and historical extends from the case all the way into the movement.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The end result is equally mixed: it is not that clean looking, restrained, but overwhelming quality that we have seen in some other Greubel Forsey pieces, but rather something that just jumps right out, begs for attention and a closer look. The quality of the finishing on the movement and indeed the case is still some of the absolute very best imaginable, but the overall styling makes this more of a showstopper piece than anything else.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Dreamt up by Steven Rostovsky, North American distributor of Greubel Forsey, the Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique Sapphire is priced at around US$1,100,000 and will be available in a limited run of just 8 numbered pieces, only available in North America. greubelforsey.com

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  • MEddie90

    Huge, impractical, insanely priced yet somehow mesmerizing. The finishing on GF pieces is truly insane and the technical aspects are impressive indeed so it makes some sense to show them off in a sapphire cased version, although I do find the look a touch tacky for my tastes.

  • ??????

    Is it only me – it reminds me of semi-transparent plastic LEGO?

    • G Street

      We were asked some time ago about what we want to see less of on ABTW and I wish I had remembered to say sapphire cased watches. It’s a trend amongst high end manufacturers that I really can’t appreciate.
      That said I’m sure they couldn’t care less about my cheap assed opinion! I could probably stretch to the Lego…..

      • David Bredan

        Hey there, thanks for your comment here in and in that thread as well. If we stopped writing about everything any one person has mentioned, we would only be writing about 3 brands and maybe two types of watches 😉 There is an amazingly beautiful movement to be seen here, so if you can look one bit further than the case, you’ll see one of the finest “high watchmaking” movements in production today… and that *is* worth writing up.

        • G Street

          Ariel posed the question and i referenced it.
          I’m well aware that it wasn’t an actual referendum, David.

    • egznyc

      I see what you mean. Of course, those Legos are far more reasonable on the wallet. This also reminds me a little of Wonder Woman’s invisible plane.

  • BrJean

    What toppings are available for a sapphire sandwich?

  • Bonus “commitment to a concept” points if you rock one of these whilst wearing that watch:

    • iamcalledryan

      The crystal suit provides unbridled views of the balance cock.

      • egznyc

        OMG – you went there!

        The crystal suit – reminds me of a certain emperor … or a Doors song.

    • Bill W

      Porno Luke Skywalker??

  • Marius

    The main reason for using a sapphire case is to allow the owner to see more of the movement/mechanism inside. So, looking at this watch and comparing it with the non-transparent version, what exactly is the visual “benefit?” The front and back are identical with the standard reference. The only difference is the lateral view, which contains only those rather wierd and creepy sentences such as (translated from French): “We, the watchmakers have given life to this exceptional timepiece. This watch is a subtle combination between creative spirit and technical know-how, between exclusive know-how and…” Reminds me a bit of Frankenstein.

    • MEddie90

      It lets more light into the watch which is an advantage though I pretty much agree. The movement is very open to begin with so changing the case to sapphire doesn’t open up any new views or insights into its workings. It does add to the price tag though which is what GF were probably after.

      • Marius

        À propos light. I recently read an article arguing that movements constantly exposed to light, such as tourbillons, for example, have a tendency to dry up faster and require servicing more often.

        • iamcalledryan

          I would be interested in reading that article as it would surprise me if modern lubricant was significantly effected by everyday light exposure regardless of the case and movement architecture.

          But if it really is a problem, have no fear:

        • Kuroji

          Dry is lie. However, sapphire has higher UV transmittance than plastic or mineral glass, so exposing to UV source may break down lubricants more quickly.

    • TrevorXM

      There is no benefit to this watch in any way that I can see. It’s a 50mm clear plastic hockey puck on your wrist with some pretty colours spinning around — for $1.1 million bucks.

    • Kuroji
  • The plastic watch look isn’t going away anytime soon, is it?

  • TrevorXM

    Now that is one great big stupid cartoon watch! A million bucks! AHAHAHA!

  • iamcalledryan

    Father forgive me, for although it has been just three days since my last confession I must share with you that I very seriously covet my neighbor’s Greubel Forsey.

    I prefer the WG but I would love to see this in the flesh and to view the movement through a loupe, bathed in glorious light. Frankly they could make these things with cork cases and I would still swoon over that movement.

    • spiceballs

      Do you mean 10 shots – which is the minimum I would need before even considering this?

  • Have to agree with everything said below, the sapphire thing is technologically very impressive but I think it takes away from the aesthetic of the watch. With a watch so beautifully finished it makes it feel cheaper than the gold equivalents

    -Amateur horologist

  • cluedog12

    It would be an honour to hold this exceptional timepiece in my hands, running my fingers over the perfectly machined sapphire case.

    If I was to drop it, would I become Greubel Forsey’s indentured servant?

  • Raymond Wilkie

    This is just ridiculous.

  • Bill W

    Wasting time reading about a watch that only loses a second a day=irony. I can’t stand this brand=rhyming.

    • Marius

      Allow me to tell you another ironic aspect. This $1,1 Million watch looses 1 sec./day. The new $10,000 Rolex Datejust looses 2 sec./day. If that’s not the epitome of irony I don’t know what is.

      • TrevorXM

        Well, that Rolex +/- 2 seconds a day is a guaranteed maximum worst case scenario. Most all the anecdotal accounts I’ve read so far place it at about two or three seconds off a week under real world wear or even sitting on a watch winder. Even my almost-new Oris Aquis has been keeping time within a second a day for the past two weeks after I turned a regulating screw (Oris sets them up to run a few seconds fast out of the factory). And it cost me $850 on Watch Recon. If I were insane enough to spend a million dollars plus on a plasticky hockey puck like this, I would expect guaranteed quartz accuracy out of a mechanical. At least 1 second a week. I should have to only adjust the time once a year at that price tag. Otherwise they should shut the hell up about their accuracy.

      • Kuroji

        Maybe they could do better without so many tourbillion in there.

      • Bert Kanne

        It looks like the latest Rolex’s could be called bargains, considering their accuracy. Is an all sapphire Rolex in the works?

      • srs144

        Irony is that both watches you cited are insanely overpriced for what they are. TrevorXM below nails it.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    ..

  • Marius

    What I particularly like about this $1,1 Million watch is that it has a RUBBER BAND. So, given that this $1,1 Million watch has a rubber band and a very scratch-resistant sapphire case, would it be safe to say that this is the ultimate diver?

    • iamcalledryan

      Material cost and build differential on the strap as a percentage of price is likely somewhere south of 0.03% of the price of this watch and is likely going to have a similar materiality in the buying decision. Given that you like to compare divers to dress watches I would absolutely suggest that you wear this and do some snorkeling.

      • Marius

        You are absolutely right, but the question is this: does Greubel&Forsey provide an extra leather strap?

        • iamcalledryan

          There’s a sapphire one in there somewhere – you can’t see it? Only true believers can…

          • Raymond Wilkie

            I can, and it’s hideous.

          • iamcalledryan

            Double poo-poo to you, at a 30 degree angle.

          • egznyc

            The emperor’s watch has no (regular) case.

          • iamcalledryan

            Only fools think it’s plastic.

          • egznyc

            I don’t think it’s plastic. But I can be quite foolish nonetheless. In any event, I will hold off until a manufacturer decides to case its product in transparent aluminum.

        • Timestandsstill

          From the text of the review:
          “Speaking of the strap, the DT Technique Sapphire will come with the pictured black rubber strap, a transparent rubber strap, and what I think it will probably look the best on, a black crocodile leather strap.”

    • Kuroji

      Is it ugliest million dollar watch ever? I am not thinking of any other.

      • srs144

        Uhhh, you clearly haven’t seen the Mille Airbus jet watch. About 10x worse

        • Kuroji

          I just look this up. Case design is better, dial is amazing ugly. Nobody pay $1M for this. That is joke price.

        • Kuroji

          I try to find out if anyone pay money for this thing, but all I see is advertising. I think they are giveaways from ACJ and nobody pay anything. Whatever CHF RM sells to ACJ is real price.

  • Berndt Norten

    8.8 million bucks for this production run. These guys are brilliant. Even if they recover just 25% of their costs they are laughing. I love some of their watches but this just reeks of a cash grab.

  • 200 Fathoms

    How do you get around the fundamental problem that it looks like plastic?

    • David Bredan

      On images it is extremely difficult to create a visible difference to plastic – but when you hold it in your hand there is absolutely no question whatsoever that it isn’t plastic. I’m sure you can tell apart a Plexiglas front from a sapphire – and the difference is exponentially easier to spot when the entire watch is made from that material.

  • cg

    It needs a night light.

  • laup nomis

    Some advances of technology are performance driven and make improvements. Some are aesthetic. And some seem to be ‘just because we can’, no reason needed. The whole sapphire case adds a little extra view of the movement, but there the have been sapphire sided watches.
    It is attractive enough in it’s way, but far to big for me and the price, well…
    As an aside, some watches seem less about horological interest, and more about letting all and sundry know you’re loaded. Not saying that I’m not jealous, because I couldn’t afford this in a million years.

    • egznyc

      You could afford this in a million years … and simply by saving a dollar a year!

  • Kuroji

    Use of expensive synthetic sapphire is officially overdone. In all the photographs this looks like acrylic. And so so giant. No finesse.

  • Bill W

    I guess the ante has been upped. And now we have to wait for Hublot to make cases out of unicorn horn.

  • Sevenmack

    The skeletonization is bold and modern. Clean yet exciting. But the sapphire case? Just looks like a Swatch you can buy from any of its stores. For all the money Gruebel Forsey charges for its watches, you would think it would hire some folks who can make a sapphire case that looks like an ice sculpture.

    • egznyc

      Like an ice sculpture, one can watch a million dollars melt away as a result of purchasing this watch.

  • wallydog2

    This is the kind of watch more for the display cabinet/bank vault than for the wrist. Ho hum (says the poor country church mouse).

  • Bladeknight

    Greubel Forse’s movements are simply amazing, very attractive looking. But I really dont like the hands: hour and minute. I wish they accepts custom made, so I can order my own Greubel Forse watch.

  • Shinytoys

    at 44mm, that sure looks huge on your wrist David. Are the measurements correct?

    • egznyc

      It is closer to – and practically – 50 mm. That’s why it looks so enormous.

      • Shinytoys

        that’s what it looks like. It’s a wrist full

      • Shinytoys

        Thanks for the info 🙂

        • egznyc

          You’re quite welcome, sir. I only knew this because I saw it in the article. Speaking of case size, did you notice that the recently reviewed Tudor Black Bay is 41mm, but the bronze version they released earlier in 2016 is 43mm? Both quite nice, IMO, but I have NO IDEA why the bronze version is 2mm wider.

          • Shinytoys

            it’s interesting that you mention that, because I thought I was seeing things, or it was the way the two pieces presented themselves in the photograph. Kudos for bringing the info forward as well, now I don’t have to see my eye doctor 🙂

  • Shinytoys

    Crystal is a bear to photograph in the first place, especially when it comes to watch’s. The piece is really slick, but to get rid of that plastic like looking body, I had to see the photos on a much better quality hi-def monitor. It looks soooooo much better. Excellent photos of a not so compliant subject. Nice work DB.

  • WatchHulk

    Hulk find sapphire case technically impressive but cheap looking! Hulk SMASH!!

    • peter_byford

      Agreed. A million dollar watch that looks more like an affordable Swatch ! I’d look to an Omega Hour Vision to see how this concept should be executed……..if it’s good enough for George Clooney, it’s good enough for me lol !…….doubt George would be seen dead wearing this, even though he could afford it.

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