The glorious Girard-Perregaux Neo Tourbillon
Which, in your opinion, is the best way to celebrate 213 years from the advent of the greatest breakthrough in watchmaking? It is by celebrating it or, else, reinventing it. If on June 26th 1801 Abraham Louis Breguet revolutionized the world of fine watchmaking by patenting the tourbillon, Girard-Perregaux is among those manufactures who have adopted this technical achievement early on and contributed, through the centuries, to its technical and esthetical development.
The tourbillon at La Chaux de Fonds is synonymous with “Three Bridges”, it's 150 years old, it's Girard-Perregaux’s Holy Grail and is preparing to live its next 150 years while leaving (partially) tradition and jumping directly into the future. Its full name is Girard-Perregaux Neo Tourbillon with three Bridges which, in Girard-Perregaux’s language, means “Revolution”.
It is the avant-gardeist interpretation of its haute horlogerie collection which becomes part of a collection where design is all about preservation and a very particular customer's portfolio. It is the way to turn inside out the idea about the classic round case timepiece with tourbillion. The breakthrough is the pursuit of a three-dimensional design, a trend most brands are already following, Girard-Perregaux has just applied somewhere on its products. Place, for instance, a new Sea-Hawk alongside an old one.
The starting point to finally get to the Girard-Perregaux Neo Tourbillon is mainly the classic Three Gold Bridges in rose gold timepiece: the sapphire glass has become higher and wider and has been slightly curved to leave room for an expanded mechanical movement. The glass is so wide there is no longer room for a bezel. Girard-Perregaux has moved from an archetype, whose case and movement were separate, to a new one where they are all in one: the caliber seems to be pushing the rose gold case which is now 45mm (+4mm) wide and 14,45mm (+3,35mm) thick, inside out.
The caliber is now bigger since the three bridges have been revolutionized: their flat mirror polished surface has been replaced by a skeletonized (as are the hands) arch and is made in titanium, PVD treated. Each of the three ultra-light bridges is now secured by two tiny screws to the main plate which is ruthenium treated and sandblasted. Crown and lugs are bigger as well: the first one is thicker, and the lugs are longer and slightly more curved than ever before.
At six o’clock Girard-Perregaux placed a one-minute tourbillion made up of 80 components in titanium, as are the three bridges, a feat that ensures its weight at just 0,25 grams. Among its relevant features is the spiral which boasts a Phillips curved coil and the unmistakable lyre like tourbillion cage. This has been encased into the new GP09400 automatic 3Hz caliber that has a barrel drum bigger than the previous models to ensure, when fully wound, 72 hours of power reserve.
The Girard-Perregaux Neo Tourbillion is, in my opinion, not simply a reaffirmation or re-engineering of the tourbillion on three bridges but a clear and unmistakable statement of will on the part of this manufacturer from La Chaux de Fonds. With this watch Girard-Perregaux is exploring new avenues detaching itself from their traditional design in an attempt to appeal to a new segment of clients.
Priced at about Euro 135,000, it is certainly not in realm of affordability of many but the production run is limited and, if I had to choose, I would prefer it to the classical Three bridges design. It is a bold and original design and makes great use of hi-tech materials. Moreover, for those who have not had the pleasure to see this watch live, it would be nice if Girard-Perregaux made available an animation which would allow everyone to fully appreciate its tri-dimensional design. I would even go so far as suggesting to Girard-Perregaux to expand this design to their classical collections by producing a 1966 (Neo) collection.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Girard-Perregaux; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®