Set to be revealed during the upcoming SIHH 2012, the new Girard-Perregaux 1966 Annual Calendar and Equation of Time (ref. 49538-52-231-BK6A) automatic watch gives you a fancy set of features in the same modern design language that fans of the Swiss-based watchmaker seem to love so dearly. Although a bit expensive, it is still a very nice choice for a true die-hard enthusiast.
It looks like the upcoming year will be a year of remakes. At least, the new wristwatch, which is going to be officially unveiled during SIHH 2012, is in fact a slightly redecorated version of the 2009 Girard-Perregaux 1966 Annual Calendar and Equation of Time that was presented two years ago at the same industry event.
Since the mechanism that powers this beautiful timekeeper is the same (as is the elegant 18-carat rose gold case,) I assume that the only difference between the two timekeepers is the color scheme: as you can see on the pictures, this time the dial is offered in a more contrasting anthracite black finish with a finely executed sunburst pattern.
It is, of course, a pure matter of personal tastes, but I have a feeling that this iteration of the watch -while clearly doing a better job when it comes to black and dark-grey suits- may be not as versatile as the one with a silvered dial that you can wear with virtually all type of formal attire.
Still, if you consider buying one of these, you probably already have an impressive collection of dress watches, so the apparent lack of versatility may not be an issue here. Otherwise, it is a great timekeeper for a person with good taste and deep pockets.
Dial & Legibility
It may surprise you a little, but this timekeeper is basically a slightly modified 1966 Annual Calendar model that had its moonphase dial replaced with an Equation of Time. Although the complication is not of the most usable kind, it is quite entertaining to look and also quite rare, especially in this price range.
On the other hand, the new indicator makes the dial a trifle more cluttered or, rather, more unbalanced: the Equation of Time indicator is rather large and is placed between 4 and 5 o’clock with its pointer’s axis standing on the very edge of the dial within the chapter ring. Perhaps, the problem could be solved if the hand was rotated 180 degrees clockwise with its -15 … + 15 sec. scale moved closer to the dial’s rim But that was, probably, physically impossible due to limitations of the complication module’s design.
Besides that minor annoyance, I have no gripes with the way the dial is designed.
The traditional leaf-shaped hands look very contrast over the anthracite background as do the stick-shaped hour-markers, as well as smaller pointers on the off-centered sub-dials. The arc-shaped “months” aperture is easily readable and the typeface that was chosen for the respective abbreviations seems to nicely match the overall styling of the dial.
I would also probably add that the timekeeper’s legibility is slightly impaired due to the lack of Superluminova, but that’s sort of common for the 1966 collection.
As usual, the dial is protected from dust and moisture with convex synthetic sapphire crystal that features a multilayered antireflective coating that seems to do good a good job even under a bright sun.
Case, Bezel & Strap
As I have already noted, the case is identical to the previous iteration of the watch. Crafted from 18-carat rose gold, it is quite thin at just 10.70 mm top to bottom. Measuring just 40 millimeters in diameter, it also sports relatively short lugs that are slightly curved, too. Together, these elements allow the watch to sit nicely on a normal wrist although trying one on your own hand would still be a good idea: we are all different, you know.
The setting crown is a bit too short for my taste and it also seems to sit to closely to the body. To some persons, it may make operating the watch feel a bit uncomfortable, especially if you prefer to trim you nails as short as it gets.
The relatively thin bezel, quite predictably, allows for larger than expected dial opening, while at the same time making the watch visually lighter: there is indeed a lot of air under the domed crystal.
As for the strap, it is a rather standard for the brand black Alligator leather strap that features a very comfortable self-deployant clasp crafted from the same rose gold alloy as the case itself. Soft and pleasant to touch, the strap seriously elevates the perceived quality of the timekeeper and deserves the highest praises of yours truly. The bad thing about the part is that changing it when it starts to wear out may be quite expensive.
Okay, here goes an embarrassing part. I wasn’t able to find any information about this Caliber GP033M0 mechanism besides the usual PR blabber full of superlatives and all sorts of praises.
However, comparing images of this movement with the good old Caliber GP03300, I am fairly certain that this particular mechanism is based on the older base movement. Featuring the same design of its visible side (with the only difference being the original oscillating weight replaced with one in 18-carat gold,) it probably got its fancy set of features with the help of a complication module designed specifically for this series.
The PG033M0 is a fairly new engine so only time can tell how reliable it will be in the longer run. Still, given Girard Perregaux’s flawless reputation when it comes to quality control and its overall impressive design experience, I would wager that you probably won’t face any serious problems with the movement.
Pricing & Availability
The watch will go on sale in the second half of year 2012 and, predictably, will bear a hefty price tag of $34,000 when it hits GP boutiques around the world. Although the Swiss brand probably adheres to the same “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” pricing strategy as some other ultra-luxury brands, I still think that from the point of view of “value for money” the price is definitely too high.
Yes, there was a lot of gold used to craft the case and, yes, the watch is so elegant that it almost hurts. However, first of all, this is not a limited edition and its value won’t start to grow any time soon. The second reason is the choice of movement: while reliable and practical, it is also just a (relatively) mass-produced mechanism with an add-on module that doesn’t help to make it more unique in any way.
Still, if you will be able to talk your local AD to a nice discount, this may be a very good choice.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 3.5/5
Girard-Perregaux 1966 Annual Calendar & Equation of Time (Anthracite Dial, ref. 49526-52-111-BK6A) automatic watch specification
Price: $34,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, GP033M0, Microvar variable inertia balance wheel with six adjustable screws and two inertia-blocks on its rim, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 44
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Movement decoration: Rhodium-plated, circular-grained mainplate with diamond-cut facets; Oscillating weight in pink gold with circular Cotes de Geneve motif
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, equation of time
Power reserve: 46 hours
Case material: 18-carat rose gold
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 40.00 mm
Case height: 10.70 mm
Lug width: No data
Hour markers: Rose gold
Hands: Leaf-shaped, rose gold
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black Alligator leather strap with self-deployant clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire