Innovative movement design is more or less required for entry in today’s haute horlogerie field, but few brands do it as extravagantly as Greubel Forsey. While many of its most famous endeavors are ornate complication models, sometimes the brand’s most dramatic releases are the simplest. That certainly encompasses Greubel Forsey’s latest announcement, which elevates the simple three-hand sports watch concept to a horological spectacle with a handful of unique touches. The Greubel Forsey Balancier S combines a unique shape with a stunning new balance design for a futuristic result.
The 43mm titanium case shape of the Greubel Forsey Balancier S made its debut in last year’s GMT Sport. From directly above, this integrated strap form seems remarkably simple, but changing the visual angle slightly reveals the true nature of this design. The entire case is arched, creating a single unbroken curve from one end of the bezel to the other that changes the geometry of the bezel and case sides immensely from one end of the case to the other. These case sides feature a deep trapezoidal cutout, exposing a black rubberized mid-case that adds a punch of visual and tactile texture. While the bezel shape is undeniably striking with its flowing sculptural form, the etched track around the outside including words like “perfection” and “savoir-faire” feels pointless at best and terribly self-indulgent at worst. An hours or minutes scale could have been an equally good showcase for Greubel Forsey’s engraving work, while also providing some useful function. Even more impressive than the bezel shape, however, is the sapphire crystal that conforms to it, with an amazing complex curve. The caseback features its own sapphire display window, as well, while maintaining the sports watch requirement of 100 meters of water resistance.
While the case of the Balancier S expresses its shape with flowing curves, the dial replies with sharp, abrupt angles. Outside of the minutes track, which conforms to the oval arch of the case, the rest of the real estate under the crystal is dominated by the grainy silver-tone main dial, which takes a pie-pan approach around 12 o’clock. On the 6 o’clock side, however, this more traditional angle is interrupted by a sheer plane showcasing one of the watch’s signature features. The exposed balance at 6 o’clock is undoubtedly the centerpiece of this semi-skeleton design, with a complex array of unique solutions to allow it to sit at a 30-degree angle to the rest of the movement. The result elevates an elemental escapement to a showcase for Greubel Forsey’s expertise. Alongside this distinctive touch sits a small, gauge-like small seconds subdial. The main handset is a pair of red-tipped skeleton arrows, supported on top of an engraved titanium bridge showcasing much of the gear train. It’s a clean, modernist solution that sidesteps much of the visual clutter usually associated with skeleton designs. This is further accented by the twin coaxial barrel assembly at 11 o’clock, making a full rotation in a little over three hours and adding another display of the brand’s fine engraving work. Lastly, the clean and sporty power-reserve indicator helps to balance the overall visual weight.
While the in-house hand-wound movement inside the Greubel Forsey Balancier S may carry fewer complications than some of its stablemates, it keeps the innovative horological spirit of the brand alive with a handful of patent-pending advancements. Beyond the visual spectacle, the angled balance wheel that gives the Balancier S its name also works to counteract the minute errors caused by the pull of gravity in a stable position. While the dial side makes visual highlights of the escapement and gear train, the decoration through the caseback is remarkably geometric and modernist. The nearly full bridges spanning the entirety of the movement are rendered in frosted titanium with mirror polished bevels. Thanks to the coaxial twin mainspring barrels, the Balancier S offers a full 72 hours of power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate.
Greubel Forsey pairs the Balancier S with a flowing integrated strap in black rubber. The integration with the unorthodox case is impressive, particularly with the recessed channel along the sides continuing directly into the titanium case side cutouts. On the inner side, this strap is textured with the same assortment of words as the bezel, and a matching titanium deployant clasp completes the look. It’s a sporty, futuristic design that complements the overall package well.
While Greubel Forsey may not be the first haute horlogerie brand to come to mind when discussing dedicated sports watches, the Balancier S is a cutting edge, dramatic effort that serves to highlight the marque’s strengths. The Greubel Forsey Balancier S is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of 195,000 CHF. For more information, visit the brand’s website.