If there is a moment where one watchmaker receives the reward they live for, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve (GPHG) coronation of Greubel Forsey as the best complication watch of the year is probably 2012′s own moment. Not only do Greubel Forsey self-profess to be the masters of the complication with many a collector’s approval, but now they have the GPHG title for 2012 to lend further credibility for another year with the award-winning Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 2.
Stephen Forsey’s GPHG honest podium speech did more for his team’s public relations than any of the press fallout afterwards, speaking in forthright terms about just how many man hours and suffering go into each GF limited edition piece.
The Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 2 may not rank atop our absolute favourite Greubel Forsey inventions, but it certainly joins the company of in-house peers (the Greubel Forsey GMT and Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain that were both GPHG nominated) among our list of best watches for 2012.
Greubel Forsey: Mastering Suffering and Complication
When a collector navigates among the very top of the price ceiling in watchmaking, there is temptation to get lost in the fairytale of exclusivity and inaccess to the public. Certainly, Greubel Forsey remain (even as a stand-alone independent) well-practiced in keeping limited for every release and exercise a lot of what Jean-Claude Biver calls “keeping people frustrated” with wanting more.
But the Greubel Forsey partnership seems to do this, whether deliberately or by collateral process, through simple dedication and concentration to turning out the finest timepieces possible. They live the rest of the image management until later.
If you are basing a brand on invention (and lately artistry, as their collaboration with Willard Wigan will progress for 2013) there remains the process of living up to the words, and Greubel Forsey’s watches have happily done this up until today. The Invention Piece 2 is no exception.
Stephen Forsey spoke, on the GPHG podium, of his thanks to the IP2 design team for what he called allowing themselves to be dragged through over a year’s suffering, in order to bring the IP2 to completion and market. It’s the kind of application expected for a limited 22-piece collection, with the Invention Piece 2 released in 11 red gold and 11 platinum pieces.
Where does the mastery lie in the IP2? Just witness the Quadruple Tourbillon system part-exposed within the watch’s case. Specifically, the system is two double-tourbillons each featuring an inclined tourbillon with a spherical differential. The Quadruple Tourbillon actually ranks as Greubel Forsey’s second true innovation amongst complication designs and, from its first ever introduction at SIHH 2011 until this month, it has rightly been a long-road to GPHG recognition.
‘Horological Art’: A 2013 Direction Shift for Greubel Forsey?
Any IP2 owner will witness the testament to the efforts in constructing this Quadruple Tourbillon, as the rear case features a personal engraving from both Stephen Forsey and Robert Greubel chronicling its invention to market. Unlike the Tourbillon 24 Secondes range, these double inclined tourbillons actually rotate every minute like most manufactures do (something which is a rare occurrence for Greubel Forsey normally prefererring a 24 second rotation).
The main feature aside, the red or white gold options case is a 43.5mm diameter size on the wrist. It is hard to find anything in the IP2′s material that isn’t mirror-polished to immaculate finish and there are plenty of other smooth touches like bevelled screws to make sure an inch isn’t out of place. The whole setup does its best to live up to the pricing, but truly one does not collect a Greubel Forsey invention to have second thoughts, after witnessing what these pieces look like on the wrist.
When speaking to the press later, with a chance to take stock on the year, Forsey commented on the “recognition” Greubel Forsey had received for innovating the tourbillon to such a level, and emphasized the watchmaking house’s pursuit of “horological art”. With their third GPHG award ever in the bag and a collaboration with Willard Wigan over the Art Piece 1, that leaves more than enough clues for Greubel Forsey’s mindset headed into 2013.