Established since 1791, Swiss luxury watch manufacture Girard-Perregaux is celebrating its 225th anniversary in 2016, and to mark this memorable year, the brand has presented an exceptional pink-gold Esmeralda Tourbillon. The new iteration of the Esmeralda Tourbillon is inspired by the Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges pocket chronometer that won the gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889.
Since founding his Manufacture and the development of the first Tourbillon with Three Bridges in 1860, Constant Girard had been on the verge of watchmaking perfection. In designing a benchmark caliber featuring a unique layout, Constant Girard-Perregaux immediately distinguished himself by inventing the concept of dramatizing mechanics. Thanks to his ambitious staging of the components, he succeeded in giving the tourbillon an artistic dimension, which was previously considered to be a purely technical mechanism. In 1867, this almost minimalist layout won its first timekeeping award from the Neuchâtel Observatory and most likely enabled Girard-Perregaux, once the layout had been patented in 1884, to create the ethereal Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges complication, an utterly unique signature.
This watch structure, which was already considered visionary at the time of its creation, made it possible for the pocket watch that featured a tourbillon, pivoted detent and three gold bridges, which was presented at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889, to win the gold medal in its category. The magnificent case was engraved by renowned artist Fritz Kundert, who at the time was at the very pinnacle of his career. This piece, whose name “La Esmeralda” was derived from the name of the Paris and Mexico boutiques of Hauser, Zivy & Cie, the famous jeweler and watch merchant, was to become the property of General Porfirio Diaz, then President of Mexico.
With its exemplary finishes, this one-of-a-kind piece marked a watchmaking pinnacle in graphic balance and became a supreme benchmark for both its finishes and its attention to detail. In 1970, thanks to a lucky chain of events, the piece reentered the collection of the Manufacture Girard-Perregaux Museum. Transcendent and majestic with its inimitable and unequaled design, the Tourbillon with Three Bridges caliber has earned a place in watchmaking history as the oldest watch movement still in production, since its overall layout has remained unchanged since its introduction in 1860.
The stylistic minimalism of the Tourbillon with Three Bridges caliber has always been in harmony with the ideals of fine watchmaking. This consummate work of art, which presents a layout that respects the principles of the golden ratio, is assembled from start to finish by a master watchmaker, with its components finished and embellished by craftsmen who are experts in their art.
A truly successful blend of aesthetic, technical and symbolic principles, the mainplate features a barrel bridge, geartrain bridge and tourbillon bridge made from solid gold. Their double-headed arrow design is entirely hand-decorated and is inspired by the bridges of the historical Esmeralda. The surface of the arrows is mirror-polished, the edges are chamfered by hand and the flanks are drawn. To increase the visual contrast and to better catch the light, the arms of the bridges are delicately “rocked” – in other words, carefully rounded by hand using a burnisher. In this strict spatial layout, the three bridges are positioned parallel to one another, creating a pleasing visual effect.
In the middle of these bridges are the diamond-polished settings, which are held in place by two screws, meaning that the barrel, center wheel and tourbillon carriage must be in line with each other.
The tourbillon carriage, which is comprised of 80 components, is entirely hand-finished and requires extreme skill from the watchmaker assembling it. With its characteristic hand-polished lyre, the signature of the Manufacture, this perfectly balanced organ, which performs a simply captivating rotation once per minute, houses a balance wheel which oscillates at 21,600 vibrations per hour (3Hz) and benefits from a large moment of inertia.
This caliber measures 16 lignes (36.60 mm diameter) and is 8.41 mm thick, and requires two months of work to assemble its 310 components, including 27 jewels.
The three-part layout of the mainplate is apparent from the very first glance. All of these components – including the gold bridges with organs visible on the front face, and even the number of arms of the tourbillon carriage – convey an important message. It is a reminder that the number three and its multiples underlie the measurement of past, present and future time.
As the successor to the 27 Tourbillons with Three Bridges registered with the Neuchâtel Observatory by Girard-Perregaux from 1865 to 1911, the Esmeralda Tourbillon tells the story of a passion for aesthetics and accuracy.
Its 18-carat pink-gold case measuring 44 mm in diameter houses the Tourbillon with Three Bridges mechanical caliber with automatic winding. Known as reference GP09400, this large 16-ligne movement, developed and manufactured in-house, takes up the entire case-band and, especially in this instance, features a 14.3 mm diameter tourbillon carriage and a 10.5 mm diameter balance wheel.
In the same vein, the unidirectional automatic winding system developed by Girard-Perregaux breaks new ground by now calling on a rotor that is positioned concentrically under the barrel rather than on the outer edge. Thanks to this ingenious construction, the watchmakers were able increase the diameter of the barrel drum and therefore lengthen the spring to give the piece a power reserve of at least 60 hours, compared to 48 hours previously.
This tourbillon watch features a carriage boasting refined lines and the lyre shape of which adopts the form developed by Constant Girard-Perregaux. Traditional and contemporary, this marvelous timepiece inspired by one of the most iconic models in watchmaking history is worn on a black alligator strap, fastened to the wrist by a pink-gold triple folding clasp.
Model: Esmeralda Tourbillon
Material: pink gold
Diameter: 44.00 mm
Thickness: 14.55 mm
Crystal: anti-reflective sapphire
Hands: “Dauphine”-type hands
Water-resistance: 30 meters (3 atm)
Movement: Girard-Perregaux GP09400-0004 mechanical with automatic winding
Diameter: 36.60 mm (16’’’)
Height: 8.41 mm
Frequency: 21,600 vph – (3 Hz)
Power reserve: min. 60 hours
Number of components: 310
Tourbillon carriage housing 80 components, weight: 0.305 g
Tourbillon, hours, minutes, small second on the tourbillon
Strap in black hand-stitched alligator
Clasp: pink-gold triple folding clasp