I have long been a fan of watches with GMT complications. While I may not travel near as much as I used to, I still admire the practical nature of these watches. It’s particularly interesting to see this common complication realized in such an artistic fashion. While we’re quite used to seeing globes depicted on the dial, they rarely come close to matching the grandeur of this effort from Greubel Forsey. The brand has gone and added a literal rotating globe. But the truth is that the Greubel Forsay GMT Quadruple Tourbillon is not just a pretty face. Along with that lovely orb, this intriguing novelty presents some other rather impressive innovations.
It seems, on first glance, that the GMT Quadruple Tourbillon is packing two tourbillons, so what’s the “quadruple” part of the name all about? As it turns out, there are actually four tourbillons in this watch. Rather than trying to jam four in, separately, they have paired the tourbillons, one in another (anyone else picturing the Xzibit meme?). The inner cage is set at a 30° angle and rotates around once per minute. The outer cage is upright (or not angled) and does its rotation once every four minutes. This really calls to mind an image of a rather complex gyroscope, doesn’t it? Once they had that first pair sorted, they worked out a differential between the two pairs to average out the timing and keep things running as accurately as they can. It’s one heck of an undertaking and, quite unsurprisingly, requires a total of 805 parts.
That’s all fun and games, but GF isn’t just about the technical prowess. No, they had some architectural challenges to work out with the layout and look of the Greubel Forsey GMT Quadruple Tourbillon. The result is a multi-layered masterpiece.
The main time display — between 1 and 2 o’clock — is the highest level of the dial and also tucks away the 72-hour power reserve indicator. At the 4 o’clock position, on a lower level of the dial, we have the running seconds and second time zone display (adjustable via the clearly labeled pusher right there). Then, of course, you drop down into the wells that house the tourbillons and the rotating earth. Around that miniature globe, at the equator, you’ve got a fixed 24-hour ring that can, at least visually, give you a sense of the time around the globe, including day and night. As before, there’s also a window in the side of the case allowing you to see more of the globe.
Flip the Greubel Forsey GMT Quadruple Tourbillon over, and you won’t see the globe. Rather, you’ve got the UTC time indicated via means of a disc. And, for those concerned about what parts of the world observe Daylight Savings or Summer time, those are indicated, as well, in a lighter coloration. The regions not observing it are in a darker hue. Unfortunately, the watch can’t tell you exactly when each region springs forward or falls back, but its a useful reminder nonetheless (especially when scheduling launch posts with a Geneva embargo time)!
You can also see the underside of the twin-twin tourbillons and a perfect view of some rather lovely finishing. Despite the level of craftsmanship and design that’s gone into the main bridge, the movements steal the show. That didn’t stop Greubel Forsey from black-polishing the edge of the bridges and decorating the movement with hand-polished bevels.
For me, watches like the Greubel Forsey GMT Quadruple Tourbillon present the extreme end of what watchmakers are capable of. Is it totally unnecessary and over the top? Well, yes, it is. But this pushes things into the realm of art, driven via the vehicle of technical innovation. Form may have followed function here, but then the form transformed itself. And, as too much of a good thing is not very good at all, the Greubel Forsey GMT Quadruple Tourbillon is a limited edition. There are 66 examples planned to be made, with the first edition of 11 pieces being made of white gold, each with a uniquely numbered plate. This is a lovely watch, and this latest version cements its place in my own personal (albeit, unlikely) grail list. Should any of you pick one up, please do us all a favor and don’t leave this locked away. Wear it, use it, and sure, show it off to your watch-loving friends. This is a machine that is meant to be used and appreciated as the fine piece of art it is. Learn more at greubelforsey.com.