Born to Innovate
Founded by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey in 2004 on the simple premise that not everything in watchmaking had been invented already, Greubel Forsey has made its name as a watchmaker that continually seeks to push the envelope. Over 17 years later, GF stands as one of the best and most highly respected independent brands globally.
While brands all over the world regularly claim their inventions are revolutionary, innovative or just plain new, we often find that is only sales talk. In an industry filled with recycled designs, recycled mechanics and, at times, a lack of demand for fresh ideas from a community that is drunk in the echo chamber of social media, Greubel Forsey are a breath of fresh air. Trying something different and challenging the status quo is what makes this Indie tick.
Shaking the industry to its core
Built on the necessity to embrace their previous limits, we know that Greubel Forsey means it when they say they have created something that we haven't seen before. With that, when Greubel Forsey released their latest version of the GMT Earth in 2018, the industry perked its collective ears and paid attention to what they had created.
While the GMT has a hilariously modest name compared to what other watchmakers name their watches, it is without a doubt one of the most complicated watches the brand has ever made. Before I even tackle getting into the complications, just looking at the dial can be tiresome with its complexity level being enough to fry brains. Seriously, look at the dial and soak it in. This is peak 21st-century horology, and for good reason.
Functionality and Design
Starting with the simplest of functions, the GMT's overall dial layout begins with a sapphire dial at 2 o'clock indicating hours and minutes in local time with a small seconds subdial incorporated within it, with a power reserve indicator found just beside it. At 10 o'clock lies a red triangular hand that indicates a second timezone and is operated via a pusher at 10 o'clock on the case. This rounds off the more 'conventional' complications on this incredible timepiece.
Filling the bottom half of the GMT's display lies the artistry that makes this piece so unique, and where it gets its name. Starting with the 4 o'clock position, we have a 24-second inclined tourbillon. The tourbillon is inclined to ensure that the tourbillon is never in either extreme position: perfectly vertical or horizontal. Next, we have a 3D model of the Earth that we call home (not the watch itself, albeit that would pretty meta). This model Earth rotates in real-time and thus provides a view of the universal time around the globe, acting as a sort of world-timer.
While not too accurate, with the model Earth we can figure out the approximate time from anywhere within view by drawing a line through the region to the hour ring that encircles the globe. This ring also provides a quick day and night time visual through the use of its two-tone nature, much like a conventional two-tone GMT bezel.
Moving to the caseback, the complications continue with a 'real' worldtimer that provides a more accurate reading for 24 different cities across the globe. Differentiating cities that observe summertime by marking them silver and those that don't in black, we can read the times for the listed cities no matter the time of year — summer or winter — by reading off one of the two 24-hour rings. Sitting next to the worldtimer is an engraved sun, a signature for the Greubel Forsey GMTs.
Construction and Aesthetics
Finally dragging our gaze beyond the complexity of the mechanics that lie at the heart of this incredible piece of work, we can look at the beauty of the GMT's construction. Sitting within a 45.5mm white gold case, the GMT is not a conventionally shaped watch. Bulging at 7 o'clock to accommodate the globe sitting there, we begin to understand just how unique this timepiece is.
Featuring a bezel "engraved [with] inscriptions that encapsulate the key values of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey" as the brand says, the GMT does not allow your eyes to rest for even just a moment. Visual intrigue galore, out-of-this-world finishing and a hypnotic duo comprising a 24-second tourbillon and a rotating model Earth, the Greubel Forsey GMT seems to defy logic, yet there it lies.