Whenever Greubel Forsey creates a new watch, the timepiece unveiled to the public is never just a new dial variation of an existing model. However, some novelties represent greater innovations than others, and as its latest new release of 2023, Greubel Forsey has announced what it calls its 8th Fundamental Invention: the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan. Although Greubel Forsey has created a new heavy-hitter watch that will be available for sale to the public, the bigger story here is the technology behind the movement, which represents a new approach to the tourbillon complication. Featuring an ultra-fast rotation combined with a 30-degree inclined plane and two constantly tilting mounting rings, the new Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan promises optimal chronometric precision, while simultaneously creating a highly dynamic and striking presentation of one of horology’s most prestigious complications. As for the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan watch itself, the new Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan features a fairly simple round-shaped case that is made from hand-finished titanium, and it is furnished with a signed winding crown at 3 o’clock and sapphire crystals fitted to both the dial side of the watch and its screw-on display caseback. The middle case measures 45.5mm in diameter, while the bezel is slightly wider at 46mm, and although the case itself measures 13.81mm thick, the total height of the watch comes in at 18.15mm once you factor in the heavily domed sapphire crystal that covers the mechanical structures that reside on the dial-side of its display. Water resistance for the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan is 30 meters to protect against incidental contact, and the lugs are completed by a black hand-sewn strap with a signed titanium folding clasp that is made from what is simply referred to as a “non-animal material” within the official press materials for the watch. Realistically speaking, the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan is really just a watch intended to showcase a truly impressive 389-component movement, which sits fully visible through both sides of the case. Additionally, just like nearly all of Greubel Forsey’s creations, the movement components play an integral role in the overall aesthetic of the watch, and the large Cardan Tourbillon occupies just as much real estate on the dial of this new model as the elevated and open-worked structure that is dedicated to displaying the time. As far as what you are actually looking at when viewing the dial of the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan, the time appears on the upper right-hand side of the display, the running seconds are presented on the sub-dial below it at the 4 o’clock location, and the power reserve indicator is placed directly next to the hours and minutes on the upper left-hand side of the display. Lastly, rounding out the dial is the watch’s namesake Cardan Tourbillon, which prominently occupies the rest of the space and even cuts into the elevated ring that contains the hour markers and minute track. So, what exactly is a Cardan Tourbillon? In short, it is Greubel Forsey’s new approach to the tourbillon that is intended to maximize the complication’s potential for chronometric precision. It combines three core technologies consisting of a high-speed tourbillon, a 30-degree incline, and a pair of tilting mounting rings. Naturally, the tourbillon serves as the heart of this mechanism, although rather than rotating once every minute like the standard version of this complication, the tourbillon inside the new Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan makes one complete rotation in just 16 seconds, which represents the fastest-moving tourbillon that the brand has put forward yet. By moving through more positions in less time, the tourbillon can work more effectively to average out positional variation. However, Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan also mounts the tourbillon at a 30-degree angle, which optimizes it for the specific positions experienced by a wristwatch, versus the traditional parallel mounting method that was originally conceived for clocks and pocket watches. The final technology that Greubel Forsey incorporates to create its Tourbillon Cardan are a pair of mobile mounting rings, which are connected by two 90-degree axes that tilt backward and forwards every 48 seconds. The tilt of the rings is controlled (+30 degrees to -30 degrees) in order to work in conjunction with the fixed 30-degree incline of the tourbillon, and the end goal here is to create a better ratio of angular velocity to chronometric performance. The movement itself runs at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz), and thanks to the use of four co-axial mounted mainspring barrels, the manually-wound movement inside the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan is able to offer a chronometric power reserve of 80 hours. Additionally, it’s worth noting that this 80-hour figure pertains only to the chronometric reserve of the watch, and while accuracy will likely start to diminish after this point, the actual total duration of autonomy does exceed this already rather generous value.
Just as you would expect from a Greubel Forsey watch, everything on the Tourbillon Cardan is expertly hand-finished, and some components require up to three days alone to complete. A titanium mainplate is combined with bridges crafted from frosted nickel silver, while the titanium tourbillon cage is finished with straight-grained flanks, polished bevels, and a barrel-polished arch, with more than 30 hours of work going into just the finishing of this single component. The multi-level dial is crafted from gold with open-worked pillars to create a highly architectural aesthetic, while the registers for the running seconds display and power reserve indicator are also crafted from gold before being engraved and lacquered to provide them with their final appearance. The lower plate is frosted by hand, the mounting rings for the tourbillon are matte-finished with polished bevels and brushed flanks, and every single surface of the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon Cardan has been carefully decorated to create a striking timepiece that showcases a multitude of different textures and finishing techniques.