A week ago, we covered the fabulous La Esmeralda Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges, a homage to the unique parallel bridge architecture that has become a hallmark of Girard-Perregaux. Today we will be looking at a contemporary take on the theme, in the Neo Bridges “Earth to Sky” edition with its 45mm titanium case, semi-skeletonised dial and two horizontal bridges. The Neo Bridges is a technical-looking hours and minutes model inspired by the earlier Neo Tourbillon with Three Bridges Skeleton watch. Although it is not equipped with a tourbillon and only has two bridges, the balance wheel occupies a prominent position on the dial and is held in place by a classic GP arrow-shaped bridge.
Constant Girard and his wife Marie Perregaux founded this watchmaking company in 1856 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, although its roots stretch back to 1791. It was here that Constant Girard studied and developed different escapements with a particular emphasis on tourbillons. Where he really made a name for himself, however, was in architecture of his watches distinguished by three horizontal bridges.
Constant Girard presented his pocket watch with three arrow-shaped bridges at the 1867 Paris Universal Exhibition, registered them for a patent in the US in 1884, and in 1889 won a gold medal at the same Parisian exhibition. Over the years, the three bridges have turned up in different guises: sometimes steeped in classicism like this GP Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges of 2015 or radically contemporary interpretations like this Neo Tourbillon in a DLC Titanium case and even on board the GPHG prize-winning Constant Escapement.
The 2019 Neo Bridges “Earth to Sky” belongs to GP’s Bridges family, a collection populated with everything from minute repeaters and tourbillons to planetarium tri-axial tourbillons and simpler hour and minutes models. The common denominator across all the models is the presence of the famous bridges. The large 45mm x 12.18mm titanium case of the Neo Bridges “Earth to Sky” edition is extremely lightweight in hand, despite the respectable proportions. Its matte black DLC coating with polished details and smooth satin finishes on the sides and lugs gives it a technical, contemporary feel. The multiple layers of black DLC – a deposition of carbon and diamond particles – on the titanium not only create a modern texture and colour but also protect the surface from corrosion.
The same black PVD treatment is used to coat the bridges on the dial and contrasts with the blue PVD coating on the barrel cover and micro-rotor. The fact that the micro-rotor and barrel are aligned compound the tight symmetry of the dial. With its openworked dial, various components of the movement can be seen: the gear train under the skeletonised hands; the blue barrel cover at 2 o’clock; the micro-rotor at 10’clock; and in pride of place, the balance wheel. Located at 6 o’clock, the aperture for the balance wheel is large (10.15mm) and its oscillations are as mesmerising as those of a tourbillon.
This constant animation on the dial provided by the rotor, gear train and balance wheel inject life into this high-tech interpretation. What is particularly pleasing is the way the bridge over the balance wheel curves up to meet your gaze. There is a real sense of 3D architecture with the suspended hours track, the raised bridges all the way down to the skeletonised hands (thankfully in a silver colour to stand out against the dark background with a touch of lume at their tips) that float above the scenery. The dial is protected by a box-type glare-proofed sapphire crystal, specially developed for this model and which required ten times more material than usual.
GP’s very own manufacture automatic movement (GP08400-0002) powers this watch for stretches of at least 54 hours. The particularity of this movement is the placement of the micro-rotor at 10 o’clock. The view from the caseback is also contemporary with large bridges covering practically the entirety of the movement. Decorated with thick Geneva stripes there is another smaller arrow-shaped bridge traversing the micro-rotor along with a view of the reverse side of the barrel and the bright pink ruby jewels.
The Neo Bridges “Earth to Sky” edition comes with an equally contemporary rubber-patterned black alligator strap with a blue lining and blue stitching and is secured by a triple titanium folding clasp. The retail price is CHF 26,900.
For more information, please visit girard-perregaux.com.