1791-2011: The Girard-Perregaux Manufacture celebrates its 220th anniversary
The start of the 19th century was marked by a pivotal invention in the field of chronometry. An ingenious device was created to compensate for the rate errors caused by the Earth’s gravity when the watch was in a vertical position: the Tourbillon.
In the mid-19th century, this complication was refined by the watchmaker Constant Girard-Perregaux. Long years of research enabled him to bring a completely innovative concept to fruition: it ensured the movement was no longer simply a technical and functional component, but a design element in its own right. His masterwork, a Tourbillon movement, featured three parallel bridges under which the barrel, centre wheel and Tourbillon were aligned. Each component in his timepieces was designed to an exceptionally high standard of quality. In 1889, he received the ultimate accolade: Girard-Perregaux won a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition for his Tourbillon with three gold Bridges.
To mark the 220th anniversary of the Brand, Girard-Perregaux’s Haute Horlogerie collection will be enhanced by a model inspired by its history and this majestic complication: the Girard-Perregaux 1966 Tourbillon with gold Bridge, expressing the essence of watchmaking tradition, available in an edition of 50 individually numbered pieces.
Tribute to the Tourbillon pocket watches
Sober and elegant, the design of this timepiece evokes that of its illustrious predecessors. The ‘Breguet’ Arabic numerals painted on the silvered dial, as well as the blued steel leaf-shaped hands, are both clear references to a time when only pocket watches existed.
The clean lines of its 40-millimetre case disguise a sophisticated design and production process. Its curvature and lugs have been carefully fashioned to sit perfectly on the wrist. Designed in the Manufacture’s workshops, it has undergone meticulous finishing operations to reveal the full brilliance of the pink gold. The case-back, closed by 6 screws, is hand-engraved to evoke the domes of Girard-Perregaux’s tourbillons dating from the 19th century. Each piece bears its own individual number, also engraved by hand in keeping with the Brand’s tradition.
The case houses a Girard-Perregaux 9610 movement comprising 224 components, the refined decoration and architecture of which are also inspired by 19th century pocket tourbillons.
The tourbillon bridge of the new Girard-Perregaux 1966 Tourbillon has an unusual shape: known as ‘bassiné’, the two arms of the bridge are rounded off. The rounding off process consists of filing the ends of the arms to make them perfectly uniform, giving them a semi-cylindrical shape while retaining the demarcation of the centre and the heels. To finish the operation, the craftsmen use stones, buffs, boxwood and diamond pastes to smooth them to a perfectly rounded finish. The slightest imperfection can be immediately detected by the naked eye. This craftsmanship, which requires the highest level of dexterity and concentration, is a worthy heritage of the pocket Tourbillons manufactured by Constant Girard-Perregaux in the 19th century.
The delicate Tourbillon also demands extreme attention to detail: incredible dexterity is required to assemble its 72 components, all of which fit into a diameter of just one centimetre. It weighs 0.3 gram – about the same as a swan’s feather. Accompanying it is a self-winding system patented by the Manufacture: a small-diameter platinum oscillating weight is housed in the space below and around the barrel. This elegant design leaves the movement’s dimensions and architecture intact.
Limited and numbered edition of 50 pieces.
Movement – Girard-Perregaux 9610. Mechanical self-winding movement. Calibre – 28.60 mm. Height – 6.88 mm. Number of components – Complete movement 224 components, Tourbillon cage 72 components, 0.3 g. Frequency – 21,600 vibrations/hour (3 Hz). Jewels 31. Power reserve – minimum 48 hours.
Tourbillon – Bridge: Gold “bassiné” bridge, hand-polished (inspection under 10x magnifier), polished corners, satin-finished rims. One rotation per minute. Upper and lower cages bevelled and polished. Cage balanced with gold adjustment screws. Escapement bridges and pallet bridge bevelled and polished.
Functions – Tourbillon, hours, minutes, small seconds on the Tourbillon.
Case – Pink gold. Diameter – 40.00 mm. Height – 10.90 mm. Antireflective sapphire crystal. Case-back fastened with 6 screws. Water resistance – 30 metres (3 ATM). Crown – Gold with engraved GP logo.
Hands – Hour and minute, in blued steel.
Strap – Full grain black alligator.
Buckle – Pin, gold, with engraved GP logo.