Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

Greubel Forsey Made a Subtle Watch Whose Big News Is on the Back

A sapphire bubble on the watch's rear face houses a 24-second tourbillon

Avant-garde watchmakers Greubel Forsey don't make understated timepieces. It's just not their thing. At first glance, the Tourbillon 24-Secondes Vision appears to be a streamlined dress watch, but there's something lurking behind the clean facade. On the back of the symmetrical case is a lone tourbillon housed in a protruding sapphire bubble. It’s kind of crazy looking, with a Millennium Falcon-type asymmetry, and it's very Greubel Forsey.

The sapphire bubble surprisingly doesn't make the watch uncomfortable.
The sapphire bubble surprisingly doesn't make the watch uncomfortable.
Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

The real star of the the Tourbillon 24-Secondes Vision is this feature. Protruding from traditional frosted plates is a 2.375mm sapphire bubble that houses a 24-second tourbillon. In most watches, the tourbillon would be prominently displayed on the dial, either in an asymmetrical section of the case or set deep into the dial. My first thought on seeing this new implementation was that the bubble would make the watch uncomfortable at best, completely unwearable at worst. It turns out I was wrong: The placement of the tourbillon was chosen to have the bubble sit between the bones of your wrist so you barely feel it at all.

The tourbillon is housed in a sapphire bubble coming out of the caseback.
The tourbillon is housed in a sapphire bubble coming out of the caseback.
Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

Looking straight at the dial, you can barely tell there's a tourbillon lurking behind the bridge that spans the 9 o’clock dial cut-out. As you tilt your wrist, though, the bevels and polished edges catch the light and the tourbillon lights up. It's a cool optical trick that lets you enjoy the complication when you want, while wearing a watch that will look unassuming to most.

When it catches the light, the tourbillon really shines.
When it catches the light, the tourbillon really shines.

The dial is solid gold with a soft-grained silver finish. The indexes are not painted but engraved, and then filled with hard-fired enamel. The result is something that looks simple but is extremely hard to make—a hallmark of this brand. The slim hands are beautiful to look at, but the minutes hand is almost too skinny and can be a little hard to find at a glance. While you're probably not wearing the Tourbillon 24-Secondes Vision for practical reasons, it does help to be able to read the time.

From the front, the dial cut-out partially conceals the tourbillon behind.
From the front, the dial cut-out partially conceals the tourbillon behind.
Photographer: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

At 43.5 millimeters across and 13.65mm thick without the bubble, the Tourbillon 24-Secondes Vision is restrained, by Greubel Forsey standards. That doesn't make it a small watch, but the proportions are very balanced. Even on a small wrist, it wears well. Greubel Forsey's creations often fall into the "I love it in my hands but wouldn't want to wear it all day" category, but this is one I'd happily strap on regularly.

The Tourbillon 24-Secondes Vision is a limited edition of 22 numbered pieces in white gold. (Additional metals will probably be introduced.) Price is available only upon request. 

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