The gorgeous Series 99810 family of ultra-luxury watches with sophisticated bi-axial tourbillon complication has been around here for some time already. However, a couple of days ago the renowned Swiss manufacturer has presented yet another, super-limited edition of the timekeeper. Called Girard-Perregaux DLC Titanium Bi-Axial Tourbillon, the new hand-wound watch features a nice combination of matt-black, lightweight titanium body and decorative elements on the dial that are crafted from 18-carat white gold. However, partly due to its impressive size, the timepiece will probably become a purely collector’s item, since I can hardly imagine anyone wearing such a (very expensive) ‘Royale with Cheese’ of a watch on a daily basis.
Although, at 34 millimeters, the Caliber GPE0201 movement’s fitting diameter is more or less acceptable (well, it is actually even smaller than that of the archaic Unitas 6497 hand-wound caliber that is still often installed in vintage-styled timekeepers,) the mechanism is still quite thick, mainly thanks to its bi-axial tourbillon escapement mechanism that, unlike most commercially available tourbillon escapement systems, rotates not in one, but in two planes.
Featuring two concentric cages that comprise 113 components, but tip the scale at just 0.8 grams, the escapement mechanism does its job better than a ‘normal’ tourbillon, but also requires a great deal of vertical space, so the Swiss watchmakers simply HAD to equip the new DLC Titanium Bi-Axial Tourbillon with a chunky, yet proportional case that measures 45 millimeters in diameter and more than 18 millimeters in height in order to give the movement the internal volume that it needs.
Luckily, the use of lightweight titanium alloy for the case, bezel and the screw-down case-back makes the timekeeper more wearable without putting too much burden on its owner. Since titanium, as feather-light as it is, is also prone to scratches, which is absolutely unacceptable in a timekeeper of this level, the metal was treated with glossy black DLC coating thus becoming virtually scratch-proof and even more beautiful than I would probably have looked in its more ‘natural’ state.
As usual for their latest tourbillon watches, the new wristwatch from Girard-Perregaux features the easily recognizable set of two horizontal open-worked and hand-decorated bridges with the third, lower one holding the diamond-polished hour and minute hands, while the other keeping in place the two co-axial spring barrels that provide the watch with a pretty much impressive power reserve of 72 hours.
What I really like about this model (and, probably, about the rest of their “Golden Bridges” series) is the movement’s very inconspicuous finish. Although featuring nothing fancier than a simple concentric guilloche pattern on the baseplate that also serves as the timekeeper’s dial, as well as sandblasted surfaces that are visible through the sapphire crystals on the back, the movement looks such a degree of refinement that you will rarely see even on much more elaborated timekeepers.
Quite predictably, the new Girard-Perregaux DLC Titanium Bi-Axial Tourbillon will be sold only as an ultra-limited edition model with a total production run limited to humble eight pieces. I don’t even want to imagine how expensive it will be.
Girard-Perregaux DLC Titanium Bi-Axial Tourbillon Limited Edition hand-wound watch specification
Price: TBD, very expensive
Movement: Manual, GPE0201, 34 mm in diameter, 2 co-axial spring barrels, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 28
Movement frequency: 21,600 vph
Power reserve: 72 hours
Movement decoration: Circular guilloche, sand-blasting and bevelling
Functions: Hours, minutes, bi-axial tourbillon
Case material: Titanium, black DLC
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 45.00 mm
Case height: 18.50 mm
Lug width: No data
Hour markers: None
Hands: 18-carat white gold
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with folding buckle
Case back: Sapphire