Greubel Forsey has unveiled the Tourbillon Cardan as its 8th Fundamental Invention, showcasing the culmination of extensive innovation and craftsmanship in watchmaking. This revolutionary timepiece embodies a new era of chronometric precision through three fundamental pillars: a rapid rotating tourbillon, a revolving 30° inclined plane, and two constantly tilting rings. Unlike traditional tourbillons, the Tourbillon Cardan boasts a high-speed mechanism with a revolution of 16 seconds, and it incorporates a large balance wheel, optimized for high inertia and reduced sensitivity to shocks and variations.
In line with this ethos, the Tourbillon Cardan is a groundbreaking creation. At its heart, it is a reimagination of the tourbillon mechanism, conceived in the early 19th century by Abraham-Louis Breguet. Originally designed to counteract the errors introduced by gravitational forces in vertical orientations, the traditional tourbillon has been extensively reinvented by Greubel Forsey.
For starters, the rate at which the tourbillon of the 8th Fundamental Invention revolves is breathtakingly fast. Clocking in at just 16 seconds per revolution, it outpaces most other tourbillons by nearly four times. This brisk movement ensures superior averaging of positional errors, thus pushing the envelope in terms of performance.
Additionally, this whirlwind tourbillon incorporates a large balance wheel, a first for Greubel Forsey. This component boasts exceptional balance in its mass distribution, optimised oscillations, and an impressive diameter of 12.6 mm. Such a design makes it robust against shocks and other disturbances.
Another distinctive aspect of the Tourbillon Cardan is its angular inclination. Recognizing that the tourbillon’s original design was meant for pocket watches, Greubel Forsey reengineered it for today’s wristwatches. This led to the introduction of a 30° tilt, ensuring optimum performance for the varied orientations of a wristwatch in contemporary use.
The unique construction of the Tourbillon Cardan sees it guided by two mobile rings connected by two perpendicular axes. These rings undergo a controlled tilting motion, reminiscent of gimbals but with a crucial distinction: the inclination of the tourbillon remains fixed at 30°. From a power perspective, the Tourbillon Cardan boasts an impressive four barrels. This assembly, unique in the brand’s 20-year history, ensures 80 hours of precision timekeeping. This dedication to precision is such that post this period, while the watch might run, it might no longer be within the exacting standards set by Greubel Forsey.
Aesthetically, the Tourbillon Cardan introduces a fresh design language. With no fixed upper bridge, the role is undertaken by the two cardan rings, giving the tourbillon a distinctive “flying” appearance. This minimalistic approach lends an openness to the timepiece, revealing the intricate workings within.
Craftsmanship is another hallmark of Greubel Forsey, and the Tourbillon Cardan is no exception. The meticulous hand-finishing on some components takes up to three days. Unique finishes, designed specifically for this timepiece, showcase the brand’s commitment to detail. The frosted titanium upper bridge of the tourbillon cage, in particular, exemplifies this, requiring over 30 hours of finishing.
To ensure wearers can fully appreciate the tourbillon and cardan system, a high-domed sapphire crystal encases the assembly. This offers an unrestricted view of the 12.6 mm balance wheel and the rhythmic dance of the cardan rings. To maintain exclusivity, Greubel Forsey intends to produce the Tourbillon Cardan in very limited numbers: only 11 pieces annually, culminating in a total of 55 over the next half-decade.