Greubel Forsey GMT Earth: More Than A Safe Bet, Your Call
Poker can be a tough game, especially when playing against great opponents who provide no clues as to what they may be holding.
The game of poker is much more about how you play than what you are dealt; the best can win with any hand while the worst can only win with luck and a nearly unbeatable hand. You see, poker is mostly about charisma, perception, and a great story.
Poker players don’t play cards; they play people. The cards are just a mechanism – a method – to discover what other players have while deceiving regarding their own hands. If the outcomes of the game were decided solely by statistics, there wouldn’t be much reason to play because it could be calculated beforehand exactly when and how much you would win. That’s no fun.
The reason poker is a blast is that it’s all about understanding an opponent and playing invisible tug of war.
Opponents vary, of course, and some may be the wildest characters you’ve ever seen – but they play methodically and with extreme care and purpose. These are the most troublesome opponents because with each hand they dazzle you while they slowly take control of the game. And you are left wondering how they got where they are.
These players should not be confused with the peacocks strutting about but with little substance underneath. After a while it becomes clear who the good players are; their paths to victory appears, in hindsight, almost guaranteed.
The same can be said about companies, and in particular watch brands (of course I was going there) as they all have different strategies they use to eventually “win” at their chosen games.
One of the greatest watch brands that has emerged since the turn of the millennium is Greubel Forsey, and each “hand” it plays is part of a larger strategy aimed at keeping it in control of the game it has chosen to play. One of the latest “hands” played is impressive: 2018’s GMT Earth.
It is an incredible piece that shows Greubel Forsey knows how to play the game.
Watch model update equals a call in poker
In poker, when another player bets and you want to stay in the hand you need to call. This means matching it, but not raising the bet as you know what you have might not be the killer hand you need.
In watchmaking, I see model or line updates as calling a bet: a brand making sure it stays in the game with a decently strong hand while waiting for the really big hand, the kind where you bet big or go all in.
For a watch company, model updates usually come in between the really big launches or the groundbreaking debuts, many times to stay active in the game while the big “hand” is in development.
If the model was very successful, as the original GMT was for Greubel Forsey, doing an update with some minor and/or major changes is a great way to keep interest strong by reminding everyone why you are playing (and as a way to provide time to finish the really big stuff).
The analogy falls apart a little as brands usually release a few models at a time, but I think you see where I’m going. The other main release this year was the first appearance of Greubel Forsey’s fifth invention, the Différentiel d’Égalité. This was a rather big debut, and it could be considered a big bet.
But it isn’t quite going all in; that is in my opinion reserved for projects like the ongoing Mechanical Nano or the recent Grand Sonnerie.
The new GMT Earth is a “call”: it is a solid bet based on the success of the previous versions. Even though it does go well beyond new colors and finishes as the architecture is changed fairly significantly, including a new location for the power reserve, a rear side to the miniature globe, and extensive changes to decoration, engraving, and material choices.
So let’s say it’s a call with intent to raise as it significantly raised the bar for the GMT complication and for the directions Greubel Forsey can go in the future. And that is a part of player strategy: making one decision based on how you intend to act later.
The details point to something greater
The GMT Earth is actually a great example of a model update that not only pushes forward possibilities for the brand, but also what should be expected when any brand does a model update. It isn’t a complete overhaul, but it is a sharp increase in the complexity of something already rather complex. The case details and material choices should point to this as does the not-insignificant departure from the look of the previous versions.
This is akin to a call late in a game when the minimum bet has already been dramatically increased. Given the history of Greubel Forsey and the amount of incredible pieces the brand has created over the years, the GMT Earth is no mere opening bet early in the night. At this point, each “hand” (timepiece) is much more important and the stakes are much higher. The level of quality, creativity, and uniqueness must be up to the combined level of the entire brand’s history.
The chances taken with the GMT Earth are experiments in capabilities and positioning, and they do a lot to help Greubel Forsey maintain its place among the upper echelon of independent brands.
And what chances has Greubel Forsey actually taken? It has doubled down on a style and direction to show that it means to win.
The new GMT Earth is technically a very similar watch to the original GMT pieces, but the execution clearly says differently.
It all begins for me with the case. The original GMT featured a more irregularly shaped but plainly decorated case. The case shape of the GMT Earth is a bit simpler than the original GMT case, with only one bulge compared to three.
That simplification is likely due to adjustments in the movement and as a way to keep the case from being visually overpowering (well, kind of) with the addition of the case band engravings featuring the extensive mission statement, an element previously seen on some other models.
Even with those changes, this GMT still has similarities with what has come before. The bezel, on the other hand, is a huge departure for the brand. The entire sapphire crystal now goes to the edge of the case instead of meeting a polished bezel.
This sapphire crystal extension allows the visual bezel underneath to become something different. The Greubel Forsey mission statement is now underneath the sapphire crystal as well, appearing etched directly into the rear of the sapphire crystal bezel. This visual change increases the impact more than any Greubel Forsey case has since the beginning. And, of course, that isn’t the end of the story.
The movement has been redesigned and the dial opened up with sapphire dial disks, a skeletonized style, and a relatively monochromatic color scheme. The finishing is, as should be expected, truly phenomenal and highlights the impressive craftsmanship of the brand. Since it is a new movement, some other details have changed like the position of the power reserve, a longer power reserve hand, a new tourbillon bridge, and adjustments to main plate shapes aside from all the aesthetic and material changes.
From the front of the watch it looks remarkably different even if it is fairly similar. On the rear of the movement, though, we find a nice little surprise.
The name GMT Earth comes from the fact that the little half-globe on the dial has been extended to the rear of the movement to include the “bottom” of the earth and the Antarctic continent. Thanks to this addition, nearly the entire globe can be viewed from some angle on the watch. Most of the southern hemisphere is visible from a side window on the case band, and only a small strip of the earth that passes through the plate and gear driving the globe is excluded.
This also means the rear of the case features a bubble sapphire crystal similar to the Tourbillon 24 Seconds Vision, which conveniently nestles into the space between your wrist bones (should you worry about it feeling uncomfortable). The base plate has also been partially skeletonized to add a bit more visual interest and show off the mechanisms underneath, leading to a delightful new style departure for the GMT Earth.
So after all of my poker references, how should we best describe the GMT Earth?
Is it a safe line extension (a call); a bold line variation (a raise); or is it a strategic move to prepare for what is next to come (let’s call that an aggressive double down bet)?
While my analogies might be weak, I think the GMT Earth is a very interesting (and visually stunning) risk at changing something already loved with new ideas that cause people to actually take a moment to reconsider the brand. Greubel Forsey is working on amazing things all the time, and making sure that its fans are comfortable with change is a smart move. It is also a fun exploration in style.
I know I am looking forward to seeing it again as well as for what comes next from the brand. One thing is for certain, the new GMT Earth is a watch to be reckoned with.
And now the breakdown!
- Wowza Factor * 9.97 The Greubel Forsey GMT was already a huge showstopper, but it takes it up a notch with the GMT Earth!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 101.1 » 991.452m/s2 The amount of force the GMT Earth has to keep you up lusting all night is truly significant!
- M.G.R. * 67.45 It’s Greubel Forsey, need I say more?!
- Added-Functionitis * Moderate The globe does double duty, and then the second time zone and power reserve make this a pretty affected timepiece. You’ll definitely need prescription-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the newly updated swelling!
- Ouch Outline * 11.4 Pulling an ab muscle after a hard workout! Sometimes a pulled muscle can really give you grief, but when that muscle is in your abdomen, oh man, what misery hath my decisions wrought!? But still, I would do it every day if it meant getting this watch on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * 24 hours! While watching that little globe go around all day you are secretly deciding if you want a beach ceremony or one in a meadow.
- Awesome Total * 669 Take the number of hours in the power reserve (72) and multiply by the depth rating in atmospheres (3), then add the number of components in the movement (453) to get a very fresh and fun awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.greubelforsey.com/en/collection/gmt/gmt-earth.
Quick Facts Greubel Forsey GMT Earth
Case: 45.5 x 16.18 mm, white gold
Movement: manual winding GMT Earth with 25-degree-inclined 24-second tourbillon
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds; power reserve, second time zone (GMT), 24-hour time zone rotating titanium globe, day/night indicator
Limitation: 33 pieces
Price: 610,000 Swiss francs
Also published on Medium.