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Sapphire Sophomore: Greubel Forsey unveils a North America-Only Double Balancier Sapphire

May 30, 2018

BY Justin Mastine-Frost

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As a follow-up to the epic $1m+ Double Tourbillon 30-Degrees Technique Sapphire, the brand has launched an 11-piece sapphire cased Double Balancier for the American market.

On the list of watches that got all the media attention upon launch, Greubel Forsey’s first sapphire cased watch, the Double Tourbillon 30-Degrees Technique Sapphire landed in the history books pretty quickly after its unveiling in 2016. The first sapphire-cased watch from the masterful duo of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey was one of the most talked about creations from the brand to ever come about until they followed it up with their astounding Grande Sonnerie in 2017, and though other more mainstream brands (Hublot and Bell & Ross, among others) have been playing with sapphire casework, the Technique Sapphire remains at front of mind for any watch enthusiast when the words sapphire case are uttered.

The newly unveiled Double Balancier Sapphire is exclusively for North America

The newly unveiled Double Balancier Sapphire is exclusively for North America

As of this past week, a second sapphire-cased Greubel Forsey timepiece is heading to market in the form of a new Double Balancier model. Though less complex than its predecessor, the brand chose an ideal caliber to showcase in sapphire casework, as its gives its wearer a much less obstructed view of the exposed and inclined double balance wheels and associated geartrain of the movement. Aside from the material itself there are a few other things making this new release of particular interest. First and foremost, this will be a North American market release that will only be available through select Greubel Forsey retailers in the U.S. Second, it will be limited to only 11 pieces, making it particularly difficult to acquire (though the earlier Technique Sapphire was limited to only 8 pieces worldwide). Finally, the price of entry is a fair bit lower than that of the first sapphire cased watch from Greubel. Unlike its predecessor that cracked the $1M barrier when it hit the market, the Double Balancier Sapphire is offered at $695,000.

Greubel Forsey is one of the world's most exciting and innovative watchmakers

Greubel Forsey is one of the world’s most exciting and innovative watchmakers

Now I know what you’re saying. Yes, $695,000 is still a very steep price of entry, not to mention a whopping $345,000 more expensive than the white gold variant of the same watch (more on that later). The thing with Greubel Forsey is you’re still looking at some of the best and most innovative watchmaking on the planet from a duo that have racked up a stack of awards for their haute horlogerie creations in their less than 10 years in business. Their execution and finishing is absolutely astounding, and if you look at the secondary market on these pieces, they generally tend to fare quite well. That said, when it comes to the premium for its sapphire case, I will say that they’re definitely banking on desirability due to scarcity more than they are actual manufacturing costs on this one. Sapphire is very difficult to work with, and according to Greubel Forsey, this case takes roughly 900 hours of machining to complete, but still. If you look at the price jump between sapphire and gold cases in the Hublot Big Bang and Spirit of Big Bang lines, you’re talking about thousands or at most tens of thousands of dollars, not six figures. Richard Mille on the other hand will also pull an absurd premium for his sapphire cased models, but much like Greubel Forsey, he is also relying on the overall demand for his watches. Agree with it or not, odds are these 11 watches will find a new home relatively quickly.

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