Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision Enamel: Clean, Classic With A Twist
In 1851 the Crystal Palace Exhibition, also known as the Great Exhibition, was the first example of what would become known as the World’s Fair. It was also a turning point in the world of design, when artists and craftsmen rejected current trends and pivoted toward something entirely different.
Nearing the end of the Gothic Revival period and firmly entrenched in the Victorian era, the Crystal Palace Exhibition shined a spotlight on the extent to which art, architecture, and goods were overwhelmingly ornate, decorative, and, in many cases, visually superfluous. Design was ornamental for the sake of embellishment, and designers realized this had to stop.
Coinciding with the rise in industrialized processes that could create repeatedly formed wares, the exhibition made it very clear that everyday goods were becoming overly complex and extremely elaborate. It seemed as if flourishes multiplied exponentially, at times rendering functional objects or images less useful or even completely unusable.
This led architects, designers, and artists to simplify, creating different movements that inched (or leapt) away from ornate details in favor of clean structures and function-driven design.
The Arts and Crafts movement was a direct result of reactions and criticism from the Great Exhibition, not the least of which came from some of the exhibition’s organizers themselves. The movement argued that ornamentation simply for the sake of ornamentation should be avoided, and there should be “fitness in the ornament to the thing ornamented.”
Design largely shifted away from the ornamental extremes of Gothic Revival and Victorianism, yet those ideas never fully disappeared. But, as the next eras of design dawned, new examples inspired subsequent generations of designers and craftspeople, and clean, purposeful design took the lead all the way up to today.
Looking at watch brands – especially bold avant-garde brands – the pattern seems to go in the opposite direction: the first watches many debut with have a tough time comparing to models launched five or ten years later. Often designs start simple and become more intricate, complex, or just plain wild over time.
But every once in a while you find a brand that began pretty darn wild, and it takes a decade for them to make something truly clean and (relatively) simple.
Enter Greubel Forsey
Greubel Forsey doesn’t do things like other brands, so why should it have started simple and build from there?
In 2015, eleven years after the brand made its debut, Greubel Forsey launched the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision with the most reserved appearance for a wristwatch the brand had ever done.
The watch went on to do well, spurring three more versions including the newest addition to the family, the Tourbillon 24 Seconds Vision Enamel, an even more classic take on the already classic watch.
Aside from the large window for the 24-second tourbillon, the dials for the Vision are clean with three different layers: an outer chapter ring and a center inset add some small depth along with an applied logo. The Arabic numerals and markers are usually enamel, etched into the dial and filled. The previous platinum version features applied markers – as do three out of four variations – increasing the visual depth for those just a bit more.
But the new Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision Enamel ditches a lot of that detail for flatness and cleanliness. Most of the dial is on the same level, minus a small inset subdial for seconds. The chapter ring and center inset are gone, and for good reason: enamel. The entire dial is oven-fired enamel, and like the originals all of the numerals and markers are in enamel that has been etched and filled.
These numerals and markers are much thinner, though, harking back to classic pocket watches or vintage wristwatches and keeping the dial from feeling overly crowded.
The two numerals are Roman instead of Arabic, and since the minute marker chapter ring is no longer a separate layer there is no visual circle or break to the dial near the edge, making the entire watch feel more expansive. The enamel lends a softness to the dial that wasn’t quite there before and makes it wear so much more prominently, even though it is a much less busy design.
Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision Enamel: 100% Greubel Forsey
Despite its myriad distinctions, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision Enamel is still full of all of the Greubel Forsey “DNA” we have come to love: the mechanics are shining, highlighted for all to see with impeccable finishing. The dial window of the inclined tourbillon and beautifully polished bridge is almost out of place next to the vintage style of the dial, the strong contrast ensuring both elements stand out.
The tourbillon bridges must be seen as they truly highlight Greubel Forsey’s commitment to top-notch finishing. The rear domed bridge takes multiple months of finishing effort to maintain shape and symmetry among the surfaces.
One of the more unique aspects of the Vision series is the bulging crystal on the rear instead of on the front. Another way to keep it visually simple on the face, the bulge on the rear fits between the wrist bones, keeping it comfortable, while it also allows the vertical space needed for the mechanism and doesn’t complicate the face.
It also makes the rear of the watch just that much more special when you take it off to gaze at it (of course you’ll do that).
The rest of the rear isn’t incredibly busy, mainly focusing on a large cutout (showing some gearing and the tourbillon) and the power reserve indication. This small indicator hand keeps track of the 72 hours of mainspring power, very incognito since the front is reserved for clean design.
The movement finishing is ridiculously good as you would expect from Greubel Forsey, but it stands out a little more when there aren’t a lot of complex surfaces, edges, or components.
Overall, the entire watch doesn’t feel out of place for a Greubel Forsey, but it does show an evolution of sorts from wild style to classic appeal.
Sometimes with design, you need to explore extremes to see where boundaries are or understand why certain decisions remain critical. But the rest of the time, variations like these from the “normal” watches and invention pieces keep mental pathways flexible and open to new things.
The process of trying new things has the potential to shift the way to see other things as well, turning a design evolution into a product revolution.
The Tourbillon 24 Seconds Vision Enamel is another masterpiece by the talented people at Greubel Forsey, but more importantly it is an exercise in creation using the same tools in different ways.
The results indicate that Greubel Forsey is never just messing around, but making history. One watch at a time.
So while we wait for history, how about that breakdown?
- Wowza Factor * 9.2 Anything Greubel Forsey will make you go wow, and this enamel version of the Vision is no exception!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 88.2 » 864.946m/s2 The subtle enamel across the dial lulls you into its charm all night long!
- M.G.R. * 68.8 Greubel Forsey movement with 24-second inclined tourbillon, tough to beat!
- Added-Functionitis * Mild A power reserve is always useful in a manual-wind movement, so you have that going for you. Still, you’ll need at least children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the historically inspired swelling!
- Ouch Outline * 9.2 Getting caught in a bramble bush while hiking! Some bushes look soft and end up prickly, some look prickly but are like velvet. You don’t know until it’s too late. Still, I’ll take that risk any day if it means getting a Tourbillon 24 Seconds Vision Enamel on the wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Flip it over! For me, all it takes is a view of a Greubel Forsey movement and it’s all over. Call a priest and book the chapel!
- Awesome Total * 903 Multiply the number of parts in the movement (293) by the water resistance in atmospheres (3), then add the incline degrees of the tourbillon (24) and you end up with a simply awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.greubelforsey.com.
Quick Facts Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision Enamel
Case: 43.5 x 13.65 mm, red gold
Movement: manual winding Caliber GF01R, 21,600 vph/3 Hz, 24-second tourbillon included at a 25-degree angle, two serially operating fast-rotating spring barrels
Functions: hours, minutes; seconds, power reserve indication
Price: 290,000 Swiss francs
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Also published on Medium.