Celebrating its 230th anniversary this year, Girard-Perregaux has selected three emblematic models and given them a métiers d’art makeover with spectacular Grand Feu enamel dials and, in the case of La Esmeralda Tourbillon, a host of other artisanal techniques. Dubai Watch Week will be the stage for the unveiling of these Eternity Editions, a name that alludes to the never-fading lustre and intensity of colour produced by Grand Feu enamel.
Although the brand’s origins stretch back to 1791 with Jean-François Bautte (below, left), the name Girard-Perregaux appeared in 1856 following the marriage of watchmaker Constant Girard (below, middle) and Marie Perregaux (below, right). One of the oldest Swiss watchmakers on the scene today, GP prospered during the quartz crisis by producing the world’s first quartz wristwatch vibrating at 32,768 Hz (standard frequency for quartz watches today) along with the launch of its luxury sports watch collection Laureato.
In the 1980s, GP emerged as a proponent of mechanical watches under the aegis of Luigi Macaluso. Since the late 1980s, Girard-Perregaux has been a part of the Sowind Group, which became a subsidiary of Kering in 2011. With its in-house manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, GP can design, develop and produce all the essential components of a timepiece.
La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition
In 1860, Constant Girard created a tourbillon chronometer distinguished by its three nickel silver bridges spanning the dial. Transcending their functionality, the three bridges became increasingly stylised and are now a hallmark of the brand, appearing in classical and contemporary models alike. The consecration of Girard-Perregaux came in 1889 when La Esmerald, a pocket watch with a tourbillon and three gold bridges, won a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition.
The model submitted to the exhibition measured 56mm across and was housed in an elaborately engraved pink gold case with a white Grand Feu enamel dial and a hinged dust cover engraved with three horses. After taking home the gold medal, the pocket watch was entrusted to a jewellery retailer with stores known as La Esmeralda in Paris and Mexico. Eventually called La Esmeralda, the pocket watch was sold to Porfirio Díaz, the Mexican general who served as president for seven terms and was ousted in 1911 during the Mexican Revolution. A descendant of Porfirio Díaz offered Girard-Perregaux the pocket watch in 1970, which now forms part of the Maison’s museum collection.
In light of the 230th anniversary of Girard-Perregaux, “A Secret” Eternity Edition of La Esmeralda Tourbillon will be released decorated with an array of artistic crafts. Measuring 43mm across with a height of 15.10mm, the watch is housed in a lavish, hand-engraved pink gold case with a secret hinged cover on the caseback. The bezel, caseband, lugs and buckle are all hand-engraved with a delicate leaf motif by GP’s in-house artisans in La Chaux-de-Fonds, who have also engraved the fluted caseback.
Spanning the dial horizontally, the iconic gold bridges of the watch pay tribute to the 1889 La Esmeralda. However, there is a surprising twist as the horses originally engraved on the caseback of the original pocket watch now appear on the dial at the right end of the barrel bridge and the left end of the tourbillon bridge. Crafted in rose gold and engraved by hand, the two horses are captured mid-gallop. Each bridge is beautifully finished by hand with concave bevelling and mirror polishing.
Guillochage is also featured on the background area of the dial. Using a manually operated rose-engine lathe, the artisan creates a series of rosette patterns before it is treated to a royal blue Grand Feu enamel finish.
Below the three bridges and in the centre of the dial, there is a slightly recessed figure-eight pattern framed in gold. The rhodium-plated barrel with scrolling decoration and golden engraved inscriptions at noon is followed by the centre wheel and the elegant tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock. Made using state-of-the-art technology, the 78-component lyre-shaped cage weighs just 0.3g. The dauphine-style hour and minute hands in pink gold are complemented by a blued steel hand on the tourbillon to indicate the small seconds.
The reverse side of the watch has a sunray guilloché decoration and blue Grand Feu enamel with three horses. The enamelling is not limited to the dial and caseback alone and extends to the outer sides of the case and the lugs. The pusher in the crown releases the secret cover on the caseback to reveal the in-house, self-winding GP09600-1506 movement. The mainplate is fitted with a motion-work bridge and marking plate, both made from pink gold with hand-polished angles to echo the shape of the Gold Bridges.
La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition will be available in seven different colours of enamel, each produced on request with a maximum of 18 pieces in each colour. The price is CHF 360,300.
Quick facts: 43mm x 15.10mm – 18k pink gold, hand-engraved and enamelled – blue Grand Feu enamel secret cover on caseback with guilloché and hand-engraved horses – dial with guilloché and blue Grand Feu enamel – three pink gold bridges with two engraved horses – pink gold dauphine hour and minute hands, blued seconds hand on tourbillon – in-house calibre GP09600-1506 automatic – 21,600vph – 323 components – 50h power reserve – tourbillon, hours, minutes, small seconds – hand-stitched alligator strap with pink gold triple-folding clasp – ref. 99274-52-000-BA6A – CHF 360,300
Laureato 42mm Eternity Edition
Presented in 1975, the Laureato was Girard-Perregaux’s proposal of a luxury sports watch with a fully integrated bracelet, a round dial with an octagonal bezel, a tonneau-shaped case and a quartz movement. Produced three years after the Royal Oak, but well before the Nautilus, the Laureato resurfaced in 2016 with limited editions followed by serial production models in 2017.
In line with the 230th-anniversary celebrations, the dial of the Laureato is first decorated with a hand-guilloché sunray motif before the complicated process of enamelling. The glossy Grand Feu enamel dial, in either vibrant green or blue, is also handcrafted at GP’s in-house facility at La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The steel case with a diameter of 42mm and a height of 10.68mm displays alternating satin-finished and polished surfaces to emphasise its architecture and is water-resistant to 100 metres. The applied indices and baton hands are rhodium-plated, and the background of the date window at 3 o’clock matches the colour of the dial.
The sapphire caseback reveals GP’s in-house automatic calibre GP01800, a 30mm movement with a pink gold rotor decorated with circular Côtes de Genève. Beating at 28,800vph, the movement delivers a power reserve of 54 hours.
Offered with blue or green enamel dials, the Laureato Eternity Edition is limited to 188 pieces in each colour. Both versions will be sold exclusively by Seddiqi during December 2021 and will then be available at authorised GP retailers and the brand’s e-commerce site. The retail price is CHF 13,460.
Quick facts: 42mm x 10.68mm – stainless steel, satin-finished and polished – sapphire crystal front and back – 100m water-resistant – blue or green Grand Feu enamel dial with sunray guilloché pattern – applied rhodium-plated indices – rhodium-plated baton hands – date window with matching background at 3 o’clock – in-house calibre GP01800-1401 – automatic – 28,800vph – 54h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds and date – integrated steel bracelet – ref. 81010-11-432011A blue dial – ref. 81010-11-433011A green dial – 188 pieces per colour – CHF 13,460
Cat’s Eye Eternity Edition
Girard-Perregaux introduced its Cat’s Eye model in 2004, a collection for women with distinctive oval-shaped cases. Appearing in jewellery models and even a tourbillon version with a gold bridge that won the High Mechanical Ladies’ Watch Prize at the 2016 edition of the GPHG, the Cat’s Eye Eternity Edition now comes with a blue Grand Feu enamel dial.
The stainless steel case of the Cat’s Eye measures a dainty 35.40mm across and has a slim height of 9.10mm. Thanks to the gentle arch of the lugs and the cambered sapphire crystal, the Cat’s Eye sits flush on the wrist.
Set with 62 brilliant-cut diamonds in the bezel, the Eternity Edition displays a guilloché sunray motif that is visible beneath the blue translucent enamel surface. Like the other two watches, the guillochage and the Grand Feu enamel are all executed in-house by expert artisans. Elegant leaf-shaped hour and minute hands indicate the time represented by decals, three applied hour markers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, and the GP logo at noon. With its background matching the colour of the dial, the date window at 3 o’clock is also oval-shaped.
A round sapphire window on the caseback reveals the in-house automatic calibre GP03300-1739 made at the company’s manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds. An openworked pink gold petal-shaped rotor reveals the finishings, including Côtes de Genève on the bridges, bevelled edges, blued screws, circular graining on the mainplate and engraved gilded text.
The Cat’s Eye Eternity Edition is limited to 88 pieces. It will be sold exclusively by Seddiqi in December 2021 and will then be available at all authorised GP retailers and the brand’s e-commerce site. The price is CHF 15,700.
Quick facts: 35.40 x 30.40 x 9.10mm – stainless steel, polished – bezel set with 62 brilliant-cut diamonds – sapphire crystal front and back – blue Grand Feu enamel dial with guilloché sunray motif – rhodium-plated leaf hands – oval date window at 3 o’clock – in-house automatic GP03300-1739 calibre – 28,000vph – 46h power reserve- hours, minutes, date – blue alligator strap with steel folding buckle – limited to 88 pieces – ref. 80484D11A432 – CHF 15,700
For more information, please visit girard-perregaux.com.