The original Girard-Perregaux “La Esmeralda” pocket watch with a tourbillon, pivoted detent and three gold bridges was unveiled at the Universal Exhibition, in Paris, in 1889, where it would go on to win a gold medal. Constant Girard, the founder of this Swiss brand, filed and was granted a U.S. patent in 1884, before revealing it to the world. Now it has returned to help celebrate Girard-Perregaux 225th Anniversary, at Baselworld 2016.
These watches were so notorious for winning awards that in 1901 the Paris Exposition stopped accepting the Girard-Perregaux 3 Golden Bridge because they were deemed unfair competition. Later on these timepieces would begin disappearing from circulation with the advent and proliferation of the wristwatch. But, in 1982 a special occasion required to produce 20 of these historical pocket-watches bringing them back into production and since pocket-watches nowadays are out, a wrist version was a much desired piece for horologists in the know of things.
The skeletonized dial has a tourbillon in the midst of a three arrow-head gold bridged configuration. Positioning the components in this manner, not only attributed the timepiece with functionality, but bestowed a quite artistic and unique design to it. These attributes have definitely assisted in making this the oldest movement still in production, with an unmodified layout since 1860.
The 44mm round case is made of 18k pink gold with a standard crown. But, the majority of detail on this timepiece occurs in its interior. There is a main-plate holding a barrel bridge, gear-train bridge and tourbillon bridge all made from solid gold. While the hand decorated double-headed arrow design is their direct and consistent homage to the historical “La Esmeralda” pocket watch. These arrows are polished and their edges are chamfered by hand with drawn flanks.
The 18k pink gold dauphine hands point out the time, although there aren’t any numerals. Instead one has to rely on the tips of the arrows for some reference in deciphering the time of day. Legibility may not be this watches strong point, but it is definitely exquisite eye candy. The tourbillon carriage is made up of 80 components and completely hand-finished. Manufacturing this timepiece requires approximately two weeks for its components and about a month to produce a single movement. Quite a laborious series of tasks, but no doubt that such dedication produces an impressive result.
Developing a unidirectional automatic winding system broke new ground for horology and brought prestige to Girard-Perregaux. Positioning a rotor concentrically under the barrel instead of the outer edge was an insightful decision. And by doing so, the watchmakers were able to increase the diameter of the barrel drum and lengthen the spring, upgrading the previous 48 hour power reserve on this timepiece to 60 hours.
Video courtesy of: Girard-Perregaux
Girard Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon
This “Girard Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon” (Ref#: 99275-52-000-BA6E) is powered by a self-winding mechanical movement, caliber GP09400, with 27 jewels, 310 components and 21,600 vph. Power reserve on this timepiece can last up to 60 hours and water-resistance can reach up to 30 meters (98 feet). Mounted to this watch is a black hand-stitched alligator strap with a pink-gold triple folding clasp.