Originally the “Chamber of Wonders” debuted in 2015, with its first exemplification of miniature creations, through the artistic tradition known as “cabinets of curiosities”. This tradition was made popular during the Renaissance and know Girard-Perregaux has 3 new additions to share with all horology enthusiasts.
Video courtesy of: Girard-Perregaux
A talent such as using a small canvas for recreating painstakingly detailed paintings requires a: steady hand, fine eyesight and the talent. Swiss watchmaking has named these practices “artistic crafts”, due to the work and aesthetically motivated labor required.
These meticulous skills require much patience from the artisans applying them. And thanks to Girard-Perregaux they’ve gotten another chance to put their talents to work.
The main motif these 3 new pieces in the “Girard-Perregaux 1966 pink gold collection” are evoking is the celebration of Earth seen from space, or space seen from Earth. These themes offer a great occasion to get highly creative and meticulous in the fine rendering of celestial scenarios. Conjuring up visions that famous figures in history perceived as ‘truths’ and that faithfully represent the extent of knowledge available at those points in time.
The round 40mm case seen here is inspired by the “Girard-Perregaux 1966” although that was made of steel, while these models are all crafted out of 18k pink gold. Not much else can be observed from the case. Its main purpose is to serve as a canvas for the true artwork exhibited on its dial. Of course the inner workings of the mechanical movement, can also be deemed as art. But, this collections main selling point is undoubtedly its laborious craftsmanship.
As we observe the 3 distinct dials available for these timepieces, we notice such seldom applied expertise as: marquetry in semi-precious stones and mother-of-pearl; miniature painting; and gilding. Drawing out scenes from the Ptolemaic interpretation with the Earth at the center of the universe; all the way to the Copernican interpretation placing the sun at the center; and finally the scientific-artistic approach symbolized by the Renaissance.
“GP’s Center of the Universe Earth” (aventurine, lapis, mother-of-pearl and hand-painting) was inspired by the spherical geometry that drew up the grid of latitudes and longitudes for the treatise of geography and the maps that aided Christopher Columbus and other explorers sailing endeavors.
The design on this dial was accomplished via a stone marquetry technique and the talent of miniature painters. Resulting in a depth achieved by applying cut stone into thin disks, which are then polished and set like a jewel. By positioning materials in this manner, it’s possible to mix lapis lazuli or aventurine reflecting off warm white tones and other colors. This collage ends up forming seas and bits of land, which undergo an application of gold powder, to further color the surface and unify the full composition that reveals a land and its outlines.
“GP’s Center of the Universe Sun” (grey jade, cornelian, orange aventurine and pale orange jasper and hand-painting) unlike geocentricism this dial represents heliocentricism, establishing the Sun as a fixed point in the universe that Earth and other planets revolve around. A theory brought to reality by the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), back in 1543.
The design on this dial was executed with aventurine and gray jade, which was combined with alternating shades of dark and pale orange jasper. Once again the expertise of miniature painters was a must for obtaining such exemplary results, with polished stones patiently placed in a mosaic composition.
“GP’s Celestial Globe” (sapphire crystal dome and hand-painting) marks the contribution of Vincenzo Coronelli (1650-1718) as a cartographer, cosmographer and producer of globes. World history benefited by his curiosity, when he produced two giant globes as a homage to the Sun King, for Louis XV, in Paris. One of them was terrestrial, while the other was celestial. In them he depicted 72 constellations which adopted the forms of animals and mythological figures.
The design on this dial can be seen as an ode to the color blue and its various shades. The domed sapphire was painted by hand and its engraved grooves are filled with gold powder, highlighting the expertise of these Girard-Perregaux artisans. Just like the other two timepieces in this “Chamber of Wonders” collection; this watch also brings back to the forefront artistic techniques that have been passed down for generations and are still kept alive thanks to these luxury goods.
None of these dials feature any sort of numerals or index markers (except maybe the grid visible on the “Center of the Universe” model). Time is pointed out via 18k pink gold leaf-shaped hands and from there on telling time requires some common sense, made possible today, much ado to these fundamental evolutions in humankinds thought process, represented in these very timepieces.
Girard-Perregaux Chamber of Wonders
These “Girard-Perregaux Chamber of Wonders” are powered by a self-winding mechanical movement, caliber GP03300-0060, with 26 jewels, 205 components and 28,800 vph. Power reserve on these timepieces can last up to 46 hours and are water-resistant up to 30m (98 feet). Mounted to these watches is a black alligator strap, with an 18k pink gold pin buckle. Each of these models is a limited edition of only 18 produced pieces.