In 2016, on the occasion of its 225th birthday, Girard-Perregaux replica watches sought to reassure and surprise the global watchmaking community, recalling the company’s legendary status in Swiss watchmaking, its long-standing pursuit of precision, and From the past through revival.
As we explained in a previous issue, Girard-Perregaux is starting over at the initiative of its dynamic CEO, Antonio Calce.
The historic company based in La Chaux-de-Fonds celebrates its 225th anniversary and uses the anniversary to showcase its rich heritage while laying the foundations for the future.
In a rapidly changing industry, Girard-Perregaux aims to reaffirm its status as the connoisseur’s choice, while re-gaining new audiences with a more transparent, accessible and focused positioning. The company has a nearly limitless catalog of innovations dating back hundreds of years (it holds more than 80 patents), the perfect foundation for a triumphant return.
Several highlights await us this jubilee; we’ve chosen to focus on four iconic creations. In 1889, Girard-Perregaux redesigned the legendary La Esmeralda three-bridge tourbillon watch that debuted at the Paris World Expo, becoming a powerful symbol of the pursuit of precision, which made Girard-Perregaux the most famous watch in the watchmaking world. One of the respected manufacturers.
The Place Girardet collection provides a key to the company’s 225-year history with the largest number of impressive pieces. The Laureato with its vintage and sporty look – right on trend, according to our observations at Baselworld – and which borrows the DNA of a model released in 1975. The Heritage 1957 is also retro, also limited to 225 pieces, inspired by a watch released in the late 1950s. Girard-Perregaux is also hoping to please its female customers with the new Cat’s Eye Majestic. This iconic model features a new vertical case, giving the watch a radically modern makeover.
225 YEARS OF WATCHMAKING CHALLENGES
Girard-Perregaux is one of the rare watchmakers that can legitimately claim the perhaps overused title of “manufacturing.” Today, the company has built a reputation for high-quality workmanship, and has all the in-house skills necessary to make a watch, from initial design to final finish. It was towards the end of the 18th century that Jean-François Bautte, a watchmaker-jeweller from Geneva, laid the foundations for the future company. He and his artisans produced watch boxes, automata, jewelry, and music boxes. Jean-François Bautte excels in so-called “alien watches” – models representing musical instruments, insects and even perfume diffusers! He was also one of the first watch manufacturers to design ultra-thin perfect replica watches. Although the company’s origins date back to 1791, it did not acquire its current name until 1856, when Constant Girard married Marie Perregaux.
The three bridges as the brand logo appeared in the middle of the 19th century. In 1867, at the World’s Fair in Paris, Constant Girard-Perregaux presented his first pocket watch with a tourbillon suspended from three bridges.
Twenty-two years later, back in the French capital, the concept culminated in the form of the tourbillon with three bridges in gold, later known as La Esmeralda.
In the late 1950s Girard-Perregaux pioneered the establishment of a dedicated research and development department, leading to the 1965 introduction of the Gyromatic HF, the first high-frequency movement, beating at 36,000 vph. A year later, the Neuchâtel Observatory of the company’s high-frequency chronograph won the Prix du Centenaire. The next decade was marked by the advent of quartz. However, Girard-Perregaux quickly realized the potential of this new technology to advance his quest for precision, and he launched into the mass production of quartz replica watches, whose frequency of 32.768 Hertz remains a universal standard today.
In 2008 Girard-Perregaux unveiled a revolutionary innovation: a constant escapement movement whose design was based on a silicon sheet thinner than a hair. The Constant Escapement L.M won the Aiguille d’Or at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
To share this rich heritage with the public, Girard-Perregaux is currently building a new museum in La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the historic building known as the “Château” at 129 Rue du Progrès. The architect Léon Boillot built it in 1908 according to the principles of “feudalism” and the “Swiss Renaissance”. And as Antonio Calce explains, «It will not have the traditional rows of showcases; it will be an immersive experience.”
THE EMERALD: A MASTERPIECE
More than a century old, this iconic tourbillon watch represents Girard-Perregaux’s obsessive pursuit of precision better than any other timepiece. The company naturally considered a reissue, releasing it in the summer to commemorate the company’s 225th anniversary. “La Esmeralda is a combination of technique and architecture. It is part of our strategy to reposition the brand as a historic Swiss manufacturer”, explains the CEO. Architecturally, the original clock was very much a part of its time, due to its structural similarities to many bridges, and even the Eiffel Tower, a visual reminder of Europe’s late-19th-century industrial flourishing.
What Constant Girard wanted was to bring together all the best watchmaking techniques of the time to produce a masterpiece. Fritz Kundert, the most eminent engraver of the time, adorns the case with his engravings. And the system of three bridges enhanced the presence of the architecture of the movement.
As early as 1860, Constant Girard had begun to “dramatise” the mechanical operation of his replica watches. And his design of the first tourbillon with three bridges was truly revolutionary in the way its components were arranged and choreographed. He gave an artistic dimension to the tourbillon, previously considered a purely technical mechanism. But that doesn’t detract from its improved accuracy – far from it.
The tourbillon with three gold bridges was patented in the United States in 1884, because at that time the Swiss cantons had not been able to agree on a joint federal patent!
Girard-Perregaux presented around 27 three-bridge tourbillons to the Neuchâtel Observatory between 1865 and 1911.
The culmination came in 1889, when a new model by Constant Girard – a pivoted locking tourbillon pocket watch with three gold bridges – won the gold medal in its category at the World’s Fair in Paris. Its name, “La Esmeralda,” came from the shop of Mexico City jeweler and watch dealer Hauser, Zivy & Cie. For several decades the watch belonged to Porfirio Díaz, the President of Mexico, and his heirs. In 1970, when then-CEO Jean-Edouard Friedrich got in touch with the descendants of General Diaz and was able to buy back the watch, circumstances inspired the revival of the emblem. The inspiration to return the Girard-Perregaux Museum.
The watch certainly deserves its place in the museum, as it contains the oldest movement still in production, and its general structure has remained unchanged since 1860.
The new model is true to the virtues of its illustrious predecessor, successfully combining aesthetic, technical and symbolic principles. In the middle, Girard-Perregaux’s three diamond-polished parallel bridges locked with two screws meant that the watchmaker had to align the barrel, central wheel and tourbillon cage. The three-piece design of the plate, the gold bridges and visible organs on the front, even the number of arms on the tourbillon cage, are a reminder that the number three and its multiples underlie the measurement of time. past, present and future.
The 44 mm 18K rose gold case houses the automatic mechanical tourbillon caliber with its three bridges, which spans the full width of the case. The refined lines of the tourbillon cage have the distinctive shape of a lyre developed by Constant Girard-Perregaux. “The tourbillon, craftsmanship and meticulous regulation are characteristics of the original watch in which its reincarnation participates, in addition to the movement and the bridges, “obviously”, Antonio Calce points out. “They are a purist’s dream”.
ONE YEAR, ONE CLOCK
Anniversary number 225 is shown on the same number of unique timepieces Luxury Fake Watches,
each with an individually designed dial (hour-marker pattern, minute track, barley or matted guilloché, satin and sandblasted ). All models in the Place Girardet collection feature a gold plate at 9 o’clock, engraved with a year between 1791 and 2016, and a quote in the center of the dial referring to an important event on that date.
The series covers the main milestones in the history of Girard-Perregaux since 1791, as well as key cultural, scientific and political events. The “face” of the collection’s models incorporates the manufacture’s iconic gold bridge at 6 o’clock,
which for the first time arcs over the oscillations of the Microvar variable inertia balance wheel. The dials alternate in a variety of colors, finishes, and decorations,
and the type and style of the indexes varies by historical period.
Now let’s move on to another pivotal year for Girard-Perregaux: 1975. That was the year the company launched the disruptive Laureato,
breaking all conventions of the time in terms of shape, materials and movement. Movie buffs may have already guessed that its name was inspired by the famous film,
Mike Nichols’ The Graduate (‘Il Laureato’ in Italian),
which captures the uncertainty of a time when traditional values were being challenged by a younger generation. It was also a time when steel became a dominant presence in replica watches,
giving them a sportier and more active profile. The design of this watch was a movement inspired by a time when marketing departments
had not yet taken their first steps in the world of watchmaking. That says everything.
The design was bold in a number of ways.
The Laureato featured a pioneering integrated bracelet, a polished octagonal bezel set in a satin-brushed case,
and harmoniously alternating shiny and matte (the Laureato was a perfect exposition of the nascent trend for two-tone replica watches). The audacity extended to the interior: at a time of overwhelming technical turbulence in the 1970s,
Girard-Perregaux poured its energy into developing a company-owned quartz caliber with an oscillation frequency of 32,768 Hz, accordingly
setting the standard. which is still applied today.
2016 marks the return to its original values. Two series limited to – we hope… – 225 units pay homage to the vintage steel watch,
one with a blue dial and the other in grey. The octagonal bezel is back, as is the subtle interplay of polished
and satin finishes on the gracefully integrated flexible bracelet. Its 41mm diameter marks a return to “reasonable standards” after allowing
itself a momentary foray into the “XXL” era, as company literature points out. The baton-shaped hands are taken from the original model and have been embellished with a touch of luminescent material,
while the dial is stamped with a Clou de Paris in a mini-checkerboard pattern, just like its 1975 predecessor. Date appears at 3 o’clock. This is a “post-vintage, new wave” watch (see our Vintagemania article).
A BENCHMARK FOR PRECISION
Reissues are undoubtedly one of the main trends this year. The Girard-Perregaux Heritage 1957 model is inspired by the aesthetic codes of the Gyromatic
(from “gyros” the Greek word for rotation and “automatic” in English) of the 1950s, accordingly
whose revolutionary movement simplified the winding mechanism of replica watches. automatic. It was the answer to a puzzle that had challenged the ingenuity of watchmakers since the 1930s:
how can you make an automatic watch accurate and reliable, while doing so with more energy efficiency?
Girard-Perregaux’s initial response, dating back to 1957, accordingly
was the design of an extremely compact “freewheel” clutch system to transmit power from a rotor in a simpler,
more efficient and more reliable way, opening the door to a reduction in size of automatic watches. The second innovation was the high frequency movement known as the Gyromatic HF. Since the mid-1960s the company began selling watches running at 36,000 vibrations per hour,
instead of the 18,000 to 21,600 of its predecessors,
which greatly improves the precision and reliability of the watches – a true obsession for the company. . The design is also elegant, sophisticated and timeless. The 225 reissued Heritage 1957 watches in steel, with their vintage good looks,
are a true reflection of the spirit of their ancestors.
CAT’S EYE MAJESTIC, VERTICALLY UNDISPUTABLE
And what about women? Girard-Perregaux replica, one of the first watchmakers to fit its women’s watches with a mechanical movement, is introducing a new Cat’s Eye, in the Majestic model, with its vertically oriented oval case. Since its creation in 2004, the Cat’s Eye collection has earned its place among
the most iconic ladies’ replica watches with its distinctive oval dial. In conclusion, Girard-Perregaux certainly is not resting on its laurels, or on its 225-year history. For its jubilee year, it is deploying a two-pronged strategy:
re-establishing its position as a pillar of Swiss watchmaking history and a pioneer in the pursuit of precision,
and laying the foundations for the company’s future through a unrivaled reinterpretation of its vintage heritage,
an approach currently riding a wave of popularity. His expert watchmakers need only delve into the company’s rich archives to unearth accordingly
forgotten legends and breathe new life into them. The new museum, which is preparing to reopen next year, will send a strong message to the public. Not to mention the return of Girard-Perregaux to the SIHH from 2017!