The Swiss watchmaker has just announced its new Girard-Perregaux 1966 Blue Chronograph (ref. 49539-53-451-BK6A) automatic wristwatch that features a winning combination of polished white gold case and deep blue, sunray brushed dial. Although some potential customers may be slightly disappointed by the relatively low pedigree of the in-house mechanism that powers is, as well as with its impressive recommended street price (especially if you are interested in a version on a bracelet,) we here at WorldWatchReview.com still think that this is one of the most elegant “modern classics” timekeepers that a person can get.
When you have such an impressive experience of building luxury timekeeper, with literally dozens of living classics under your belt, it’s extremely difficult (although possible) to make a watch that would make a true aficionado go like ‘meh’ while window-shopping a brand new collection. Since Girard-Perregaux clearly isn’t eager to sabotage its success, they keep churning out beautiful timekeepers on an annual basis.
Well, this ‘new’ model is not really new since it’s just a redecorated version of an earlier timepiece. Yet, it didn’t fail to attract our attention.
Sporting a very clean, full of air and open space, dial, the watch makes a very good initial impression, which is further supported by its elegant, medium-sized white gold case that also seems to be quite ergonomic. Yes, the watch is not without its (very minor flaws,) but even when you take a really close look, you still can’t but feel absolutely overwhelmed by its well-developed beauty. Some may find the gadget’s attractiveness thoroughly calculated and hence sort of ‘insincere’, but that’s absolutely okay with your truly: it is no more ‘calculated’ than a hypercar that spends half of its developing cycle in an aerodynamic tube and on a test track as all of its problem areas are adjusted in order to give you the best possible experience.
Powered by the same in-house Caliber GP030C0 automatic column-wheel chronograph movement that animated the original 1966 Chronograph revealed back in 2009, the watch predictably features the same functionality. Besides hours, minutes and small seconds, there is also a 30-minute chronograph with central second hand that can also work as a rudimentary speedometer thanks to a tachymetric scale printed on the dial (more on that below.)
As you have probably already guessed, the movement is in fact based on their well-known Caliber GP03300 workhorse mechanism with an extra chronograph module slapped onto it to increase the timekeeper’s functionality.
Although the design somewhat diminishes the gadget’s overall perceived value (when you are talking about a timekeeper that costs like a fully-loaded C-Class, you somehow expect all of its components to be exclusive, including a natural-born chronograph caliber instead of a glorified three-hander,) it still must be noted that the caliber is great in terms of build quality and ability to keep good time. Another good point about the choice of movement is that there are more service persons that are qualified to work with this popular mechanism, which is not always the case with more rare calibers.
As usual for the Swiss-based brand, the movement is nicely (although definitely not lavishly) decorated with its bridges featuring Geneva stripes and beveled edges, while the screw heads are mirror polished and the base plate is featuring perlage pattern.
Perhaps, the only thing that may disappoint you a little is a relatively low (at least, by today’s standards) power reserve of just 36 hours.
Case, Bezel & Strap
If memory serves well, Girard-Perregaux has first presented its 1966 Collection of “modern vintage” dressy timekeepers more than five years ago during SIHH 2006 “Swiss Watchmakers Only” trade show. It was before the supersizing trend in luxury watchmaking turned into worldwide epidemics so the members of the family were deliciously compact and fitting just about any sort of formal suit as long as you sorted the colors right.
This new 1966 Blue Chronograph is a tad larger than you classic dress watch that is supposed to be around 38 millimeters, but the size is still manageable. Measuring just 40 millimeters in diameter and just a hair over 12 millimeters thick, the watch can still be considered a nice choice if you plan to wear it with business attire. Some may find the elegantly shaped lugs a little too long for their taste, but, from the point of view of mere ergonomics, the length of the horns may become a problem only if you happen to have particularly narrow wrists.
If ergonomics is important to you, you may be pleased by the fact that the pair of chronograph push-pieces that are traditionally placed at 2 and 4 o’clock seems to be easy to use in any circumstances. Perhaps, the only problem that is see here is the equally small winding crown that seems to be “squeezed” between the pushers and, in some instances (especially if you fingers are relatively thick), may require you to put your hands at an unnatural angle while operating the timekeeper.
According to the Swiss manufacturer, the watch is going to be sold on black alligator leather strap with white gold ardillon buckle. As usual for Girard-Perregaux, the strap is deliberately unremarkable in its finish with no visible stitching and with very common scale pattern, but, firstly, the quality is absolutely superb and, secondly, the strap doesn’t detract from the beauty of the watch itself. Also, it’s never a problem to change the strap for a one matching your own tastes.
As always, there is also a version of the timekeeper that comes with a solid 18-carat white gold bracelet, but, if you are interested in my humble opinion, the bracelet is totally overkill in this particular instance and will probably detract from the timekeeper’s humble beauty rather than add to it.
Dial & Legibility
Yes, the new version of the gorgeous chronograph from GP’s iconic 1966 Collection may sport the same list of functions, but the ref. 49539-53-451-BK6A also features a new, even more elegant combination of colors and textures.
With the noble metal combined with an ice-cold deep blue sunray brushed dial, the 2011 Girard-Perregaux 1966 Blue Chronograph looks like it was made of deeply frozen time itself.
Besides a pair of sub-dials (a small seconds display at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph totalizer at 3 o’clock) that feature a nicely executed “snail” pattern and are further decorated with tiny chapter rings of their own that are brilliantly matched by hair-thin pointers (these seem to be rhodium-plated like larger elements of the dial proper), the outer part of the timekeeper’s face also features an elegantly styled -albeit a tad busy- tachymeter scale and a pair of applied Arabic numerals at 6 and 12 o’clock that are matched by similarly shaped stick-style hour markers.
Made of polished white gold, the oversized numerals, the eight indices, as well as all five hands look especially contrast (yet, absolutely organic) on the blue dial.
Perhaps, the only thing that lacks here is a luminous compound (even tiny dots of strategically placed Superluminova would have probably solved the problem of poor nighttime legibility,) but one may also argue that this, first and foremost, a “sportified” dress watch that is primarily supposed to look, not provide good readability at times when it is supposed to be placed safely into an automatic winder or a hand-crafted storage cabinet.
Pricing & Availability
The watch was presented three months ago at SIHH 2011 and, predictably, is available right now throughout GP’s numerous boutiques and specialized stores around the world. However, the price of this beautiful gadget will likely make you shudder since the Swiss watchmaker asks impressive CHF 29,700 for a version on a black alligator leather strap and almost CHF 52,000 for the wristwatch on an 18-carat white gold bracelet.
Well, that’s the price that has to be paid for owning one of these objects crafted from the frozen time itself.
Girard-Perregaux 1966 Blue Chronograph automatic watch specification
Price: CHF 29,700 (MSRP, version on a black alligator leather strap) / CHF 51,850 (MSRP, version on an 18-carat white gold bracelet)
Movement: Automatic, GP030C0, 28,800 vph, 38 jewels, 338 components, column wheel chronograph, Swiss Made
Movement decoration: Decorated by hand with Geneva stripes, beveled edges, polished screw-heads
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph
Power reserve: 36 hours
Case material: White gold
Bezel material: White gold
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 40.00 mm
Lug width: No data
Case height: No data
Dial: Blue, sunray brushed
Numerals: Arabic, applied, white gold
Hands: Leaf-shaped, white gold, polished
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with white gold ardillon buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire