Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport: Twice As Nice

Whenever a new artist breaks out onto the scene, the aftermath often goes one of two ways. Either they have a parabolic arc from obscurity to superstardom and back to obscurity, or they find the groove and continue producing at a very high level to sustain their popularity. This may have very little to do with the individual artist: you have probably heard the term “one-hit-wonder.”

A one-hit-wonder is usually a derogatory term used to describe what happens when an artist makes a work of art that captures the public’s imagination, something straight out of the zeitgeist, but fails to repeat it with their other work. It isn’t that they aren’t producing fantastic art, but often that the style or artistic choices simply do not resonate with such a wide audience as the piece that made them popular.

The taste of the masses is fickle and ever-changing, and past success is no indication of future performance.

But often, an artist will either have an existing back catalogue of work that people discover is equally as engaging, or they continue to create new works in the same vein of what catapulted them to fame and fortune. These “overnight successes” are no such thing, it is always the result of years of hard work, dedication, and practice honing their skills, but the sudden rise from obscurity can sometimes make it appear like they just lucked into their position.

And while luck always plays a role in capturing the public eye, once you have captured it then it can persist partly thanks to a pattern of commitment to your craft.

In the watch world it is no different as many emerging watchmakers will hit the scene with their unique idea, or their mastery of some set of skills, and the industry will sit up and pay attention. Sometimes these first works are a foundation to build upon and the watchmaker will become a mainstay in the industry and shepherd in a new generation of watchmaking.

It appears that Theo Auffret is one of the emerging watchmakers that not only wowed with his debut, but had enough passion and commitment to build on his momentum with new watches and new collaborations.

Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport

Auffret’s latest independent project is the Tourbillon Grand Sport, a thematic follow-up to his debut souscription piece, the Tourbillon à Paris. The two pieces use the same core foundation, but they are definitively different concepts.

Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport

A classically designed tourbillon caliber at heart, the Tourbillon Grand Sport takes the basic mechanical layout of the Tourbillon à Paris and drops the regulator design in favor of a central hour and minute display.

Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport power. reserve indicator

In place of the hour sub dial in the bottom right of the dial we find a power reserve indicator (technically an instant torque indicator), a crucial feature on any manually wound watch.

The entirety of the movement is finished in a much more modern style, moving away from the ultra-traditional aesthetic that Auffret birthed in his debut piece.

Many of the shapes for components look very similar, such as the classic marine chronometer style mainspring and tourbillon bridge. The design of the tourbillon is effectively the same, and the handmade screws retain the same style as well. But where the Tourbillon à Paris was essentially an open-dialed movement showcasing handcraftsmanship, the Tourbillon Grand Sport drives towards a sportier aesthetic, taking a page right out of the Greubel Forsey style manual.

Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport

The architecture of the movement is indeed similar to Auffret’s debut piece but in this context, it feels clearly inspired by something akin to the Greubel Forsey Double Balancier Convexe with his own personal twist. The movement is technically no longer a fully open dial concept but has a translucent dial which sounds no different, but in practice adds a ton of character to the watch.

Instead of a set of drilled and screwed pieces of German silver demarcating the minutes and seconds, a sapphire dial sports pad printing for both the minutes and seconds and applied hour indices in a similar style as the Tourbillon à Paris, though once again they are updated to feel more modern with white infill down the center of the channel.

Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport

On the Tourbillon à Paris, the hour and minute hands had a square pinion mount which put the aesthetic solidly in the 18th century, but that is gone on the Tourbillon Grand Sport in favor of a simple round mount, with the addition of blued shafts meeting drop-shaped tips with white centers. These are all around an evolution of the spade-tipped hands on the Tourbillon à Paris and help complete the homage to Greubel Forsey design when combined with the movement architecture, the style of the instant torque indicator, and the case design as a whole.

Putting the Sport in Grand Sport

The movement is housed in a modern, sport style case with integrated strap (no bracelet for the time being), seen in the prototype in bushed steel but in production will be sturdy and light titanium. Titanium is also used for the second hand mounted to the tourbillon and the torque indicator hand. If a future version saw the inclusion of a titanium link bracelet, then this would be the perfect melding of classic and modern in a sport watch.

Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport concave caseband

Looking towards the case profile and bolder crown, these details take the ultra-classic style of the Tourbillon à Paris and demonstrate that Auffret won’t be held back by a single idea and is developing a personal style.

Back of the Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport

Checking out the rear of the Tourbillon Grand Sport showcases some differences between the previous caliber’s design while demonstrating that they share the same foundation. The layout is different but only so much as was necessary to facilitate the new gear train.

Otherwise, the basics are carried through from Auffret’s debut piece. But once again the caliber is juxtaposed against the sporty titanium case and instead of feeling like an “Ode to horology” it gives off the vibe of a watch designed to be appreciated in today’s market. We all know that sport-themed high horology pieces are still extremely popular so it puts the Tourbillon Grand Sport against some solid company and in a very competitive market.

Smart decisions

I would argue that it appears Theo Auffret is learning about the market very quickly, enough to understand where his potential audience of collectors resides and how he can create the best product that fits his personality and that of the brand he is building. Auffret’s recent collaborations with others in the industry might indicate that his brand benefits from sharing ideas and preferences among his peers, allowing the Tourbillon Grand Sport to be part of a movement to build the next generation of independent watchmakers.

Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport was short listed in the Tourbillon category of the 2022 GPHG

I’ve seen coverage of just that from the likes of WatchesTV, and the thematic jump from the Tourbillon à Paris to the current model demonstrates a clear path leading forward for the young brand. The aesthetic shift from the original case to this new model shows strong consideration of what makes a lasting case design.

It may not be the most stand out case I’ve ever seen, but the smooth and subtle curves of the case profile, the dished indent in the sides leading to the crown, and the balanced proportions of the bezel and lug length are a masterclass in designing a core product that is distinguishable as your own.

Seeing this new design has me rather excited, not because I will be able to own one of the extremely limited 4 pieces of this next Montre de Souscription program, but because it is rock solid evidence of something that is likely to grow beyond this second watch. Unlike a one-hit-wonder, Auffret appears poised to begin building a core brand identity that can become a mainstay in the industry just like Romain Gauthier, Kari Voutilainen, or Philippe Dufour. As one might have noticed, those three watchmakers represent very different paths forward.

Auffret could take many different routes in his career as an independent, but regardless of which direction I know we are sure to see a bevy of new ideas in the upcoming years, Auffret is already about to launch an affordable space-themed watch in collaboration with Guillaume Laidet of Vulcain and Nivada Grenchen (that I am eagerly awaiting), and his coverage and visibility does not seem to be fading. In fact, we may be entering a renaissance of independent watchmaking that is facilitated by broad exposure on social media, and Auffret is leaning into it.

Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport

The Tourbillon Grand Sport is an awesome chapter in the story of Theo Auffret as a brand and indicates that there is much more to come. With Watches and Wonders just around the corner, we are about to see a flurry of new watches from every corner of the industry, and I would not be surprised if Theo Auffret makes an appearance in one form or another, buoyed by the Tourbillon Grand Sport and it’s incredible horological impact.

But take a moment to simply appreciate the Tourbillon Grand Sport and I’ll try to break it down!

  • Wowza Factor *9.45 The Tourbillon Grand Sport takes everything that made the Tourbillon à Paris amazing and adds everything it needed to take it into the fast-paced world of ultra luxury sport watches!
  • Late Night Lust Appeal * 94.5 » 926.728m/s2 Just exploring the miniature metropolis that is this movement is enough to keep you up until your alarm goes off in the morning!
  • M.G.R. * 67.1 A classically styled yet modern tourbillon caliber that channels the essence of Greubel Forsey all from a small independent watchmaker younger than 30 has geek written all over it!
  • Added-Functionitis * Mild The addition of a torque indication (closely akin to a power reserve) is a perfect addition to this manually wound watch. But you won’t need more than children’s strength the Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the horological accessory!
  • Ouch Outline * 10.8 A ripped hangnail! We all know we should wait to get cuticle scissors or  fingernail clippers to remove a hangnail, but many will try to remove it by hand and proceed to mangle our poor fingertips. Yet for a chance to get this piece I would gladly attempt it on every finger if the Tourbillon Grand Sport was on my wrist!
  • Mermaid Moment * Look at those updates and that case! Evolving from a debut piece in a way that shows incredible promise can be such an attractive trait that you find yourself considering popping the question!
  • Awesome Total * 724 Start with the beat per hour (21,600) and divide by the water resistance in meters (30), then add the number of pieces being made (4) for an emergingly awesome total!

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Quick Facts Theo Auffret Tourbillon Grand Sport
Case: 41 x 13 mm, titanium
Movement: manually wound TGS caliber, 50-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph/3Hz with one minute tourbillon
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, torque reserve indicator
Limitation: Subscription series of 4 pieces
Price: €128,000

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1 reply
  1. cluedog12
    cluedog12 says:

    Both of Theo Auffret’s releases have impressed. The Tourbillon a Paris is actually very much to my taste, wish I had the funds to sign up. The Tourbillon Grand Sport is an impressive second release, bringing his vision in line with today’s taste for sporty haute horlogerie. Is Jean-Baptiste Viot still making watches? I remember reading that Theo apprenticed with him.


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