Greubel Forsey GMT Sport: Object Of Desire
If ever there was an unlikely concept, it would have to be the idea of Greubel Forsey – the masters of ultra-finished, mechanically inventive, and (at least in my view) imposingly dressy watches – coming out with a sporty watch.
And, yet, here it is; and the response has been wildly enthusiastic!
Not the watch we deserve, but the watch we need
In this context, though, the term “need” has a specific meaning: really, really want.
Because let’s face it: one of the most attractive elements of this watch – perhaps its greatest charm, in fact – is that it is absolutely, unapologetically, completely unnecessary in every way.
Yes, I understand that when Greubel Forsey first introduced the ADLC-coated titanium GMT in 2015 and Double Tourbillon 30° Technique shortly thereafter, both with rubber straps, some clients felt that this turned them into all-conditions sport watches, much to the alarm of Stephen Forsey and Robert Greubel.
The GMT Sport was created to provide a true go-anywhere watch for the brand’s clients (and, perhaps, to keep them from trashing their other GF pieces by exposing them to conditions for which they were not designed).
That said, however, how many times have you said to yourself while splashing in the surf off Ibiza, “I wonder what time it is in Fagatogo right now?” Heck, I had to look up Fagatogo (one of the cities listed on the time zone wheel on the reverse of the watch) to learn that it is, in fact, the downtown area of Pago Pago, American Samoa.
That I am now consumed with the desire to visit Samoa is beside the point, as is the matter that the use of Greubel Forsey’s trademark 24-second, 25-degree tourbillon as the regulating organ for what is billed as a rough-and-tumble watch is mildly insane.
All that I can say is that I was immediately captivated by this piece and judging from responses I’ve heard and seen in the collector community and online, I’m not alone.
Is there no troll low enough to bash this watch?
It seems these days as if it’s pretty much impossible to introduce a new watch without an army of largely anonymous keyboard warriors taking to social media to decry it as an “abomination” or worse.
Yet, even these self-appointed guardians of what I should feel about new offerings have been remarkably silent, and I’ve been pretty much entirely wrong in my initial suspicion that I would be the only one with odd enough tastes to love the GMT Sport.
Upon reflection, I can think of several reasons for this:
- It’s unmistakably a Greubel Forsey. The GMT theme is solidly established by now as one of the brand’s most popular motifs, and everything from the fonts to the shapes and colors of the indications to the relief-engraved brand values on the bezel make it clear that this is all GF, all the time.
- The changes in movement architecture are consistent with turning a dress watch into a sport model. For instance, in a sport piece legibility is at a premium, so the display of hours and minutes was changed from a subdial in the original GMT designs to a central-axis design that spans the entire front of the movement. That, of course, was non-trivial, as there was the little matter of the three-dimensional globe to deal with and the need to keep the watch thin enough to be wearable. The elegant solution incorporates a curved flying bridge with its own integrated gear train along with dramatically curved minute and hour hands to get the job done.
- It’s round – or oval – or both. As seen from above, the GMT Sport is an absolutely round 45 mm watch, which is a real positive for the folks out there who are not that fond of the asymmetric bulges on many of Greubel Forsey’s references (for the record, while I own a round-cased Invention Piece 1, I rather like the bulges on many of the brand’s cases). But it’s not just round: when you tilt the watch downward or to the side, it immediately takes on an ovoid appearance courtesy of the shaped bezel and radically curved crystal. This optical magic both holds the eye in a “how did they do that?” way and provides additional depth to the appearance of the watch, which in turn helps to make it wear smaller on the wrist than its actual diameter. The shaped 4 3mm case band is another great visual feature, keeping a fairly tall watch from appearing slab-sided.
- It’s wearable. The titanium case and clasp and rubber strap make a big watch wear like a small one, and the clasp design itself securely affixes the watch to the wrist so you never feel as if it’s wobbling around.
- It flows. The shape of the rubber strap connects seamlessly with the outer ribs and recessed inner section of the screwed-on lugs, and the domed crystal and bezel make for a more organic fit on the wrist.
- The technical and design innovations make sense for the wearer. That shaped crystal, for instance; unlike a much-ballyhooed curved crystal design from a major house in January 2019 whose primary purpose seems to have been to create unwanted reflections and visual distortion, the Greubel Forsey component seems to vanish visually allowing us to dive into the fascinating depth of the movement. On the reverse, the city indication dial covers the entire movement, and the 24-hour indications are engraved into the rear bezel for easy legibility in active settings.
- It’s a Greubel Forsey, so perhaps enough said!
- It’s even versatile. There will be a variety of strap colors available, and the crown has an integrated quick-change mechanism that allows it to be removed in a matter of seconds and swapped out for one with different-colored rubber inserts.
- It’s distinctive. While I’m not one to whine about “yet another blue-dialed steel sport watch” this piece clearly blazes its own trail.
- It was launched with both pride and modesty. No bombast, no thundering music, no chest-thumping; by the time I saw at Dubai Watch Week just prior to its launch, all 11 of the monochromatic examples with dark grey Earth had already been sold to collectors and the launch preview consisted of a friendly chat with Stephen Forsey while GF sales chief Sylvain van Muylders snapped photos of our surprised expressions. The one little concession to vanity is the prominent position of the brand value “Perfection” at 6 o-clock on the bezel; but at some level, that’s not bragging. It’s a fact.
Bottom line: the GMT Sport is coherent, from concept to design to technology to finishing, all the way through to the launch approach itself, and very much in keeping with the very best of what we’ve come to expect from Greubel Forsey.
If part of the satisfaction of collecting is lacking the means to afford certain pieces, I think that the GMT Sport will be providing me with a great deal of this sort of satisfaction for a very long time indeed!
Congratulations to those who will be taking delivery of these splendid watches over the coming months – I’ll certainly hope to have the chance to meet up with some of you and admire your wristwear. And both for you for and those who, like me, won’t be so fortunate, I’ll look forward to reading your impressions on this new watch in the comments section below.
Quick Facts Greubel Forsey GMT Sport
Case: 45 x 15.7 mm; titanium with interchangeable titanium and rubber crown with color-coded rubber capping; 100 m water resistance
Dial: three-dimensional variable geometry hour ring with luminescent hour and minute indices; GMT indicator with raised engraving; engraved and lacquered power reserve indicator; tourbillon rotation indicator in gold; rotating titanium globe with fixed day-and-night UTC indicator in synthetic sapphire, engraved and lacquered
Hands: polished steel curved hours and minutes with Super-LumiNova; red triangle for GMT; rotating disc and red triangle for seconds; power reserve hand in steel; aluminum 24-seconds indicator for tourbillon, double-tipped with black treatment
Movement: manual winding movement with 24-second, 25-degree inclined tourbillon; 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency; 72-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; second time zone, rotating globe with universal day and night, universal time (on reverse) of 24 time zones including summer and winter time, power reserve
Limitation: 11 pieces with monochromatic treatment and grey earth; 11 pieces with blue globe
Price: CHF 480,000
Production: shipments to commence in 2020