Greubel Forsey replica produces the Holy Grail watch. We say so. repeatedly. We’ll say it again. Greubel Forsey produces the Holy Grail watch. We were very excited when they announced an entry-level watch in stainless steel. We want to see, touch, feel, experience, hear Stephen Forsey (Robert Greubel speaks very little English, and we barely speak French). As we imagine, so will our dear readers. So here it is. Our full hands-on review of the Greubel Forsey Signature 1.
The background of this watch is quite interesting. With this Signature 1, Greubel Forsey embarked on the next phase of their development. The Signature collection will of course carry the GF branding, but will also carry the watchmaker’s name. In Signature 1, this is Didier JG Cretin.
Diedier is a watchmaker who has been working at Greubel Forsey since 2006. Before that, he worked for Philippe Dufour for a period of time between 2004-2006 and at Audemars Piguet (2000-2004) and Breguet (1989-2000). Impeccable pedigree.
For this project, he was basically free to make a watch he envisioned as part of the Greubel Forsey universe. He was able to take advantage of the available resources. Interesting concept.
Signature 1 will be limited to 66 pieces. Of these, 11 are platinum, 11 are red gold and 11 are platinum. Eleven is the regular size of a Greubel Forsey watch. Read this article to find out why 11. But the Signature will also be available in stainless steel. A first for Greubel Forsey. A series of 33 pieces will be made of steel. Eleven of these will feature a special blue dial designed for the US market. And just like the rest of the souscription basis. This is an old system where a customer orders a watch, pays a deposit, which the watchmaker will use to finance the manufacture. It was common in the days of Abraham Louis Breguet.
Case, Dial and Hands
Let’s start with a case. This is a fairly classic Greubel Forsey case. The case is three-piece, with a grained middle case and lugs, a polished bezel and an engraved rear bezel with relief engraving. The middle finish of the case is quite interesting as it is a straight grain finish but the edges are beveled and polished.Discount watches
The dial is also interesting. It’s the usual open-structure dial with a huge aperture that shows movement from the fourth wheel. The hour and minute dial is like a medallion on the movement dial. A maillechort half-ring is bolted to the black matte movement and decorated with Côtes de Genève.
The dial itself is gold, with small details like polished sides, and a small cutout to see the entire balance wheel. A seemingly unsupported small sub-dial emerges from the fourth wheel with a direct auxiliary seconds hand.
The hour and minute hands are in the style of a spear and are made of blued steel with hand inclination.
The most proud of the watch face is the huge balance wheel. The balance bridge is traditional in style and, like many tourbillons, is at an angle to the dial layout. The balance itself is not tilted, but is quite large and made in-house. The balance wheel is of variable inertia with 6 gold averaging time screws with a diameter of 12.60 mm.
The main focus of the watch, in fact any Greubel Forsey luxury must be the movement. The GFS1 adorning the Signature 1 is no exception. The attention and focus on sports is evident. Finishing techniques incorporate traditional techniques such as ornate angles and Côtes de Genève, but also less common techniques such as frosted, speckled.
Of note is the huge bridge that houses the mainspring barrel. This is huge. The movement is otherwise traditional. The time display is only for hours, minutes and small seconds. And there are no other complications.
This watch bears the Greubel Forsey logo, and from this comes the expectation that the finishing is top-notch. Signature 1 does not disappoint. Not only are traditional finishing details executed to the extreme, Didier has also opted for a different finish to each component in the movement (and case). Demonstrate what Greubel Forsey can accomplish. If it weren’t for Didier’s attention to detail and restraint in the design, this could end up being a useless tidying riot. Arguably, the Signature 1 earns a place in the Hall of Fame of the best finished watches of all time.
When we came to our conclusion, we found the Greubel Forsey Signature 1 to be an example of excellence. The design carries traditional GF DNA (Didier is GF’s DNA Product Director, after all). With this, advantages. The design is balanced and pleasing to the eye. It has the volume to showcase finishing and detail. Tidying up is great. And the attention to detail is outstanding. But with that comes the downside. The design can be seen as loud because it shows everyone its guts. Although small for Greubel Forsey with a diameter of 41.1 mm, this watch is still not small.
For comparison, we can borrow a simple watch from the Dufour Simplicity. Only time. But very classic in size and design. Very Valee de Joux finishing style, perhaps the reference standard for finishing.
And its corollary: Seiko Credor Eichi. The Seiko is equally classic in proportions. And finish at a very similar level to Dufour, in fact Philippe Dufour himself served as a consultant for Shiojiri Japan. But it’s a mixed sport. Interesting in itself, but not really a classical movement.
Another comparison might be the Voutilainen Vingt-8. The Voutilainen has a detent escapement and a classic Breguet-inspired aesthetic (though Kari has and can customize special dials, some in fancy and loud colors.)
All of them are a lot cheaper than the Signature 1, and none of them are made with a stainless steel case. On the gold side, the comparative price gap with GF is even wider. Smith is handcrafted by the master himself and has his name on the dial. It’s worth some premium. Manufacturing is a George Daniels tradition. So Smith is probably closer to the Greubel Forsey Naissance d’une Montre project than Signature 1.
In conclusion, Greubel Forsey Signature 1 is self-contained. Its unique aesthetic, interesting conceptualization. In the field of spectacular finishing, the aforementioned competitions provide it with good yields. And always at a much cheaper price. Which to choose? As always, you have to make up your mind. At this level, you can’t do anything wrong. As such, one might think of the Signature 1 as a well-designed, well-made chronograph watch at a premium price. Or as the cheapest Greubel Forsey ever. Take you to pick.
Greubel Forsey Signature 1 Unique Edition Technical Specifications
Platinum, 5N Red Gold,
Platinum and Steel
Manual winding Calibre GFS1 movement
Three-hand (hour, minute and small seconds) timepiece with Didier JG Cretin GREUBEL FORSEY BALANCE SYSTEM
• Diameter: 34.40 mm
• Thickness: 7.40mm
number of parts
• Complete movement: 190 parts
• Escapement: 61 parts
number of jewels
• twenty one
• Olive dome set in a gold sleeve
• 54 hours
• Barrel with fixed mainspring, reins
Winding system, slide and click
• Black polished click to incorporate
• Snailed click wheel and ratchet, polished
and bevel ratchet
• Internal variable inertia with 6 gold averaging time
Screw (12.60mm diameter)
• 18’000 vibrations/hour
• Phillips end curve
• Geneva Studs
• Nickel silver, matte and speckled,
with straight grained sides,
Polished Bevels and Countersinks, Polished Large Bevels,
Black PVD treatment
• Nickel Silver, Côtes de Genève, Frosted and Spotted,
Straight side, polished bevel
and counterbore, large polished bevel,
• Round grained steel barrel bridges, hand-polished
Chamfers and Counterbores
• Gold plate with personal number engraved
• Ruled steel escapement platform,
Hand-polished chamfers and counterbores
• Polished steel columns
• Black polished steel balance bridge,
Hand polished bevels and countersinks
• Involute circular profile
• Hours and minutes
• Small seconds
• 18k Gold, 950 Platinum or Steel,
With convex synthetic sapphire crystal
• Synthetic sapphire crystal transparent case back
• Raised engraving “Signature 1”
and “Greubel Forsey”
• Gold security screws
• Polished and straight grained bezel
• Polished and straight grained case
• Hand-engraved My Number
(Available in 18k Gold and Platinum 950 Versions)
• Diameter: 41.40 mm
• Thickness: 11.70 mm
Case water resistance
• Waterproof 3 atm – 30 m – 100 ft
(Standard NIHS 92-20/SN ISO 22810:2010) table
• 18k gold, 950 platinum or stainless steel
, engraved and black lacquered GF logo
• 18k gold and stainless steel versions: silver gold,
GREUBEL FORSEY, black hour and minute hands,
• Platinum 950: black anthracite gold dial,
GREUBEL FORSEY, white hour and minute hands,
• Silver-gold small seconds, set with diamonds
• 18k gold and stainless steel versions:
Polished blued steel hour and minute hands, hand polished
• Platinum 950 version:
Polished gold hour and minute hands, hand-polished countersunk
• Small seconds in polished blued steel,
Hand Polished Countersink
Strap and Buckle
• Hand-stitched, alligator and leather
• 18k Gold, Platinum 950 or Steel Pin Buckle,
Hand-engraved Greubel Forsey logo
(Available in 18k Gold and Platinum 950 Versions)