Only three of the six hands on the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret’s dial are there to indicate the time (at least traditionally). You also have a power reserve indicator hand as well as hands for the two external tourbillons which each make a single rotation every four minutes (240 seconds). Inside the outer four-minute tourbillons are two smaller one-minute tourbillons which are inclined at a 30 degree angle and rotate each 60 seconds. According to Greubel Forsey, the seconds indicator hand on the dial displays the mean 60 seconds as determined from the performance of the two tourbillon structures.

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To a large degree, that is the whole point of even intellectually having more than one tourbillon in a movement. The idea is to average out their performance (one double tourbillon is poised to run slower than ideal, and the other to run faster than ideal – averaging them out gets close to the desired 0 deviation), hoping for maximum performance. While Greubel Forsey does produce among the most accurate tourbillon-based mechanical movements out there, in some ways, promoting accuracy in a mechanical movement is futile when electronic timekeeping will always beat even the most perfect of mechanical movements, no matter what. Then again, this is all about passion and engineering… even if we want to imagine that in some contexts, these items are still relied upon as instruments.

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This particular version of the 18k red gold Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret was a prototype, so there might be some changes between it and the final pieces, but for the most part, this is the final model. Turn the watch over and the “secret” vanishes to reveal the beautifully made Greubel Forsey caliber GF03j manually wound mechanical movement which is were most of the value of this item lays. The “j” applies to the movements which exist within the Secret version of the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon timepieces and they are produced from 509 parts, with 260 of those parts in the tourbillons alone.

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The balance wheels operate at 3Hz (21,600bph) each, and the movement has a power reserve of 50 hours (not bad, given that the movement needs to power four tourbillons). Movement finishing is obviously as stunning as you’d hope for when it comes to a timepiece at this price. This includes everything from the copious amounts of polishing each little movement component gets, as well as the clever textures and surface finishing you see on the various parts of the movement. There is an enormous amount of pleasure for movement lovers in carefully inspecting all angles of this and other Greubel Forsey movements – movements that, as Mr. Forsey so kindly illustrated to me, are designed to be durable as well as decorative.

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People have sometimes accused Greubel Forsey watches of lacking elegance. If you measure that by a tendency to promote traditional design elements such as pure symmetry, then no, Greubel Forsey watches are not elegant. Instead, I look at the concept as a function of refinement and being true to one’s own values and design elements. Clearly, Greubel Forsey timepieces are not trying to look like anyone else’s products. The watches strive to be legible while also serving as frames for the internal work which is what Greubel Forsey really wants its buyers to appreciate. While these are no doubt extremely luxurious items, the only thing timepieces such as the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret (as well as the non-Secret version) are trying to promote is the ultimate exclusivity and beauty of the brand’s technique – not their ability to indiscriminately show-off wealth.

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So, if it is good enough for Stephen Forsey, is it good enough for you? That all depends on whether or not you like his particular values as a watchmaker which during that meeting came across as being very straight-forward and confident, but not pretentious. I have to say that, in general, some of the most talented watchmakers out there like Stephen Forsey and Robert Greubel utterly lack unpleasant pretension that many associate as being part of the world of super expensive “ultra luxury” watches. Though, don’t worry, a lot of that lost pretension comes out during the actual sales process in the retail environment.


Given the inherent theme of the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret, it is hard not to like it, even though if buyers with enough cash to enjoy this particular wrist statement are rare. Can you blame someone for wanting to show off even a little bit when buying something so expensive? With that said, in the right circles, a timepiece like the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon Secret says just the right thing about the wearer which is why rare timepieces such as these even exist. In addition to this 18k red gold version is also the platinum version I previously wrote about and, again, each is limited to just eight pieces, and the price is $815,000.

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