The brand’s second sapphire-cased watch is heading to the US market as an exclusive 11-piece release
By Justin Mastine-Frost
You may well remember Greubel Forsey making a huge splash in 2016 with the launch of their Double Tourbillon 30-Degrees Technique Sapphire—the $1M+ sapphire-cased beauty that made all the news as much for its price as its complex casing. It seems Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey aren’t through with the challenging material, as a new transparent timepiece has just come to light in the form of a sapphire-cased Double Balancier.
Those wanting to get their hands on this new Greubel hotness will potentially run into some challenges, as the new piece is destined for the North American market only, and is planned as a limited run of only 11 watches in total. Considering the sapphire case takes over 900 hours of machining to produce (and the fact that Greubel Forsey’s annual production across the board is relatively small), this isn’t much of a surprise. There is a bit of good news, however, as the Double Balancier Sapphire is going to be a bit of a bargain when compared to its bigger brother. The new release is going to be priced at $695,000 once it starts landing in authorised retailers.
Choosing the Double Balancier as the next release to be fitted in a sapphire case was a smart move. The pair of exposed inclined balance wheels, as well as its associated gear train are a real feast for the eyes, and adding further viewing angles to the equation instantly amplifies the curb appeal of the new watch. Even in full metal casing, it’s hard not to get lost in the vast array of hand polished, brushed, and microblasted finishes found in the multi-tiered and architecturally constructed caliber. Add to that its partial dial in a stunning shade of blue, and you’re easily looking at another home run from the brand in terms of design execution.
While we’re pleased to see that this new release is more affordable than the aforementioned Double Tourbillon Sapphire that came before it, there’s some pretty hard maths to all this that we can’t ignore. We all know how delicate sapphire is to manufacture by now, the significant man hours that go into the process, the risks of the material breaking, and so on. That said, we also know that it is a process that has been refined, and is available for a wider range of industries than ever before. What’s more, we know it can be done somewhat affordably, thanks to recent creations from Bell & Ross and Hublot.
With that in mind, we’re having a difficult time stomaching the fact that a sapphire case effectively adds a premium of $345,000 to the Double Balancier when compared to its white gold sibling (the WG variant retails for $350,000). Now, we all know how this game is played, and that given the level of exclusivity of this release, as well as with Greubel Forsey watches in general, the scarcity and demand dictates the price as much if not more than its complex creation—the same goes for all things Richard Mille for that matter. We can’t say that we are totally impressed that this is the approach being taken, but in the same breath, we won’t be the least bit surprised when these 11 new watches all find new homes before the year is up.