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December 7, 2022

A rare sports watch in carbon from the renowned watchmaking pair

Since its debut in 2004, Greubel Forsey has been praised for its innovative tourbillon and high horology timepieces. While impressive in their technical complexity, these early watches lacked the casual practicality now in high demand even from high horology brands; most were water resistant to 30 meters and solely produced in precious metals. In 2019, the watchmaking duo released their first "sports" watch, the GMT Sport in titanium. While this model was a big departure from the company's previous watches, it still featured heavy-hitting complications. Introduced in 2020, the titanium Balancier S was perhaps the first pure sports watch, boasting 100 meters of water resistance and a durable, lightweight case. Soon after, the brand released an even sportier timepiece: the extraordinarily rare Balancier S Carbon.

At a glance, the most striking feature of the Balancier S Carbon is its convex case. Head-on, the case appears round. Its true ovoid shape reveals itself when viewed from the side, where the convex crystal and wrist-conforming curvature come into view. The casebands are a colorful rubber, matching the rubber ridges of the crown and strap. The strap transitions seamlessly into the case, in part due to the integration of the titanium lugs. These lugs are finished in a satin brushing and a matte texture. Measuring 45 millimeters in diameter, the case is crafted from two of the lightest materials in watchmaking: carbon and titanium. Consequently, the Balancier S Carbon only weighs 115 grams despite its size.

Equally if not more appealing is the movement. For a brand renowned for its uniquely executed high complications, the movement of the Balancier S Carbon is relatively simple. However, this superficial simplicity is deceiving; the watch, much like the brand, shines in its flawless execution. A look through the sapphire crystal caseback reveals three plates covering most of the gear train. The plates are presented in a gray, grained finish and include exquisitely polished and beveled silver borders. On the top right is an engraved plate indicating the watch’s edition out of 11. Both the plates and bridges are made of titanium to keep the overall weight to a minimum.

The Balancier S Carbon's movement does not so much feature a complication in the purest sense of the word. After all, the dial only displays the time and power reserve. Yet, the movement is composed of an impressive 308 components. This high figure is, in part, the result of the unconventional placement of movement components on the dial. 

When viewing the timepiece, the wearer is immediately greeted by a sizable, 12.6-millimeter variable-inertia balance wheel at seven o'clock. Positioned on a 30° incline, the wheel is cleverly suspended by an arched bridge. The six gold inertial screws are positioned in cut-outs to minimize air resistance. The escape wheel, which interacts with the oscillating balance wheel via the pallet fork, is also visible. The barrel, the component housing the mainspring which stores the watch's generous 72-hour power reserve, is covered by a disk bearing the Greubel Forsey brand name at the top left. A bridge originating from the four o'clock position holds the gears of the "motion works" which turn the skeletonized, arrow-shaped hands. These hands, as well as the hour and minute markers which surround the dial on an elevated ring, are luminescent for optimal legibility.

Owing to this viewable complexity, the Balancier S Carbon does not so much possess a dial as it does a functional, mechanical display. The small-seconds sub-dial, which matches the blue of the casebands and strap, sits next to the exposed escapement. The angled area on which both components sit is finished with a sleek, matte effect. Considered touches of color mark other parts of the dial; the hour index at twelve o'clock is red, matching the red indicating a nearly empty power reserve. The dial itself is made of the same, textured black carbon as the bezel. These thoughtful elements converge to form a visually appealing, avant-garde image.

For a brand dedicated to the preservation of traditional watchmaking crafts, the Balancier S Carbon is characterized by a very modern approach to horology in both its comprising materials and the methods used to finish the case and movement. While refreshingly sporty, the watch retains the exceptional workmanship that keeps Greubel Forsey in high demand.

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