There are the watches that we praise here, at Monochrome-Watches, for their technical solutions and their crazy R&D and there are the watches that we just admire for their pure beauty and their stupendous level of finish. Take for instance a Kari Voutilainen GMT. It’s nothing but technically classical and however, totally crazy on the finishing side. For Baselworld 2015, a renown manufacture called Girard-Perregaux came with something that is both technically complicated and that features superb classical Haute Horlogerie finishings, the Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges.
A minute repeater or a tourbillon alone is already synonym of haute horlogerie, complicated watches, beautiful hand-made finishings and horological pleasure. Few manufactures are able to achieve these complications themselves. This statement is even more true when it comes to mix both of them in a single watch. This is the point where we began to add the words ‘Grande Complication‘ to the discussion. Recently, Breguet came with such a watch, the Tradition Minute Repeater Tourbillon, but in its very personal interpretation and with surprising technical solutions. Girard-Perregaux is doing the same with its latest creation, the Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges, a timepiece that mixes both the traditional look of GP, with a very complicated movement, superb finishes and interesting technical solutions.
The Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges might only be a 2-hand watch, it has a lot more to show and to ‘sing‘. As said, it combines two of the most prestigious and complicated functions of watchmaking – one focused on the accuracy and the other that (nowadays) only has the interest to be pleasant to hear and superb to look at. The first one is of course the tourbillon, that is displayed at 6 o’clock. This special escapement comes here with 91 components for 0.49 g (imagine how complex is the assembly) and measures a large 13.6mm diameter. The balance wheel is a variable inertia one with pink gold setting screws and makes, classically, one rotation per minute. It is held into GP’s very thin lyre cage, of course finished by hand, with black polishing and chamfered angles. The whole tourbillon and its cage are attached to GP’s most iconic feature, an arrow-shaped gold bridge. This part only is a pure pleasure to look at – take a look at the polished surface and the beveled angles.
The central wheel, just under the axis of the hands, is also attached to one of these specific bridges, having 2 of them on the front of the watch… Wait, usually Girard-Perregaux featured 3 of these bridges on their watches – Take a look at the Neo-Tourbillon or the Bi-Axial Tourbillon. So where is the third one? For that, you’ll have to look at the very top of the dial, at 12, and at the hammers of the minute repeater mechanism. For this watch, Girard-Perregaux created a mechanism that is fully located on the dial side of the movement, while most of the watches with a repeater come with the striking train on one side and the gongs and hammers on the other side – like for example the Blancpain Carrousel Minute Repeater Le Brassus, with its gear train dedicated to the repeater on the dial side and the gongs and hammers on the movement side. With the Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges, everything – plus the tourbillon – is on the dial side, for both the pleasure of the eyes and a better transmission of the sound. The only part linked to the repeater to be on the movement side is the governor / flywheel – the bandmaster that indicates the tempo of the music. Why? Simply because this mechanism makes some parasite noises and being located on the movement side limits the interferences.
The choice to have all the elements of the repeater on the dial side is guided by two ideas. The first is purely linked to the pleasure of the eyes, in order to enable the observer to follow the triggering operations with his gaze, while at the same time also watching the hammers strike the gongs. The second reason is technical, as this location allows a clearer, louder sound of the repeater because it faces the wearer instead of touching his wrist and skin – that will absorb a part of the sound. This loud and clear sound is however not only due to this location, as the Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon comes with other technical solutions. The inside of the case has been specially crafted and finished so as to limit any acoustic interference that might arise. Same goes for the shape of the sapphire caseback which comes with the same curvature found in the majority of musical instruments equipped with a sounding-box, in order to increase the volume of the sound.
Another solution concerns the heels of the two gongs. Usually, in a traditional repeater timepiece, the heel of the gongs are only linked to the main plate, thus limiting the vibrations – and so the level of the sound. In the Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges, the heels of the two gongs are linked to both the main plate and the 18k pink gold case, so as the case itself becomes a resonator that amplifies the sound though these attaches. The result is – tested by us – a very rich sound that can be easily heard, even in a quite noisy meeting room of GP’s Baselworld booth.
The back of the Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges is also rather impressive. Even if the majority of the technical elements are located on the dial side, the back of the movement shows a spectacular finish and enough wheels, jewels, screws – as well as the governor / flywheel – to deserve to turn back the watch more often than required. It comes with the same finishing idea than the Girard-Perregaux Tri-Axial Tourbillon; meaning a silver frosted main plate with large gold wheels – and another arrow-shaped gold bridge behind the tourbillon. The finishing is magnificent, with large polished bevelled angles (by hand) on the bridges, polished screws heads, polished screw-slots and jewel-slots and straight graining on the steel parts.
The Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon comes in a 45mm 18k pink gold case, with a brushed bezel and polished surfaces on the lugs and case-bands. The minute repeater is classically actuated by a trigger on the left side of the watch. This is of course a huge, thick and heavy timepiece but the need of space for the complication and the musicality explains this size. However, the curved lugs and the integrated alligator strap help to balance this beauty on the wrist.
The movement – calibre GP09500-0002 – is, as said before, a pure feast for the watch lovers, with both a superb technicality exposed to the wearer and a very high level of finishing – something that GP is renown for. The polishings and the bevelled angles are empty of any defaults. The movement boasts approximately 58 hours of power reserve.
The Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges is a watch that will be a real pleasure for its futur owners. However, only a few of them will have the joy to hear its sound and to see the gears moving, as it is a limited edition of 10 pieces, priced each at 387.500 Euros.
Case in pink gold
- Diameter: 45,00 mm
- Crystal: anti-reflective sapphire
- Case-back: sapphire crystal, secured by 6 screws
- Water resistance: 30 meters (3 AT M)
- Integrated side bolt in the case at 9 o’clock for activation of the minute repeater
- Internal flange in pink gold with circular graining.
- Applied indexes in pink gold, polished
Girard-Perregaux GP09500-0002 movement
- Mechanical, manual winding
- Diameter: 32,00 mm (14’’’ ¼ )
- Thickness: 9,35 mm
- Frequency: 21.600 Vib/h – (3 Hz)
- Power reserve: minimum 58 hours
- Jewels: 37
- Number of components: 406
- Arrow-shaped Bridges and marking plates in pink gold
- Functions: Tourbillon and minute repeater, hour, minute
- All the components of the movement are manufactured by hand according to the criteria of the Haute Horlogerie.
- Tourbillon carriage: 91 components for 0.49 g
- Diameter: 13,60 mm
- Balance wheel: variable inertia with pink gold setting screws
- One rotation per minute
- Gong on two tones in steel 20AP (hours and quarters on the first tone, minutes and quarters on the second tone)
- Hammer inspired by the arrow-shaped Bridges of Girard-Perregaux, jewels above and under
- Speed regulator with gold inertia-blocks
- Hand-stitched black alligator strap
- Triple-Folding buckle in pink gold with safety lock
- Limited edition of 10 pieces.