We frequently need to go back into the aBlogtoWatch photography archives to discover stories and timepieces we haven’t had an opportunity to cover yet. It is actually amazing the number of timepieces we see, take pictures of, and then don’t have a chance to cover each year. Looking through some images I took of rare Greubel Forsey watches, I instantly remembered a moment with Stephen Forsey that caused my heart to miss a beat when he decided it was a good idea to take a “Unique Edition” Quadruple Tourbillon watch and bang it on the table a few times in front of me.
Why did Stephen Forsey do that to this over-half-a-million-dollar watch that would require a pretty penny’s worth of repair if it got damaged? He was trying to demonstrate to me that when people buy a timepiece for this much money, they should expect a degree of durability as well as decoration and complexity. Love or hate Greubel Forsey watches, you can’t deny that their work is mechanically sound. There is little better testament to (at least latent) durability than slamming a watch case down on a table a few times. Yes, the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret watch did just fine, but now, many months later, the experience still stuck with me. It was original and unexpected, I will say that, for sure.
Several years ago when Greubel Forsey originally introduced the Quadruple Tourbillon Secret (hands-on in platinum here), it was viewed as a sort of tongue-in-cheek commentary on the overly conspicuous display of tourbillons that Greubel Forsey themselves actually helped promote. Among luxury buyers, the tourbillon isn’t so much a grail as it can be for serious watch movement nerds, but rather an indication of price, and thus, status for the wearer. In other words, in the right circles, even those who don’t know watches too well are still trained to know that “tourbillon = expensive.”
Greubel Forsey’s own reaction to the increased proliferation of the tourbillon mechanism was to create timepieces with tourbillons that no one else could (or would) make. The Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon, for instance, has a movement that contains two tourbillons, that each contain smaller tourbillons. Thus, the model can claim having four tourbillons – each of them actually a bit unique in the scheme of tourbillons – which is something other tourbillon watch makers aren’t likely to offer.
Currently, there aren’t any other timepieces from the brand with more tourbillons than the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon with its caliber GF03 movement. So, what was the best way to play with this concept? Hide the tourbillons, of course. In fact, the only major difference between the standard Quadruple Tourbillon and the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret is just the dial (there are some other minor detail differences as well). The two places on the dial which once had open views to the double tourbillon assemblies is now closed and the dial looks a bit more traditional.
Why the brand refers to these Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret watches as part of a “Unique Edition” is a bit confusing to me because each of the two versions were produced as a limited edition of eight pieces. “Unique” tends to imply that there is just one of something, so you can understand my confusion. Regardless, these are still extremely rare watches which will only appeal to a niche group of watch collectors. I doubt the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret watches are anyone’s first timepieces from the brand.
At 43.5mm wide and 16.11mm thick, the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret isn’t a petite watch, but it is very wearable – as are most Greubel Forsey timepieces, to be honest. Being a fan of black and gold, I really like the matching black dial with the 18k red gold case and applied dial elements. Proper finishing also makes sure everything is nice and legible.
Even if you don’t visually see the four tourbillons through the dial of the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret watch, there is still “helpful” text on the face to remind you what is going on in the movement. In addition to “Quadruple Tourbillon” being printed on the dial, you get a few more hints to explain what you are seeing. This is actually important for those who happen to wish to use the watch, since at least some of the indicators are anything but standard.