The 2011 Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 Tourbillon Three Golden Bridges offers a variation of the well-known GP Caliber 9600 installed into a compact, Art Deco-styled white gold case. Set to be officially revealed early next year at SIHH 2012, the watch is absolutely beautiful in its sober -even if somewhat monotonous- combination of polished white gold and rhodium-plated surfaces. With its bold styling, it may be one of the best choices for a gentleman searching for an elegant, classic-styled dress watch with a nice subtle twist to its exterior.
Although I personally can’t call myself the greatest fan of Girard-Perregaux’s famous Three Golden Bridges family, I must admit that the movements they use to power the timekeepers are by all means gorgeous.
Perhaps, the movements didn’t click to me when they were installed inside skeletonized timepieces in round cases: there were just too many details in a too confined space for the watch to be as sober as it was supposed to be.
The recently revealed Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 Tourbillon Three Golden Bridges, however, is a different story.
Sharing its general styling with the gorgeous Vintage 1945 XXL model revealed earlier this year and having its original silvered dial completely removed in order to proudly display a solid rhodium-treated baseplate of the movement, the new watch is a rare treat for an eye of a true connoisseur.
Even the hand-crafted and hand-decorated bridges that support the spring barrel, the drive train, and the tourbillon cage, look absolutely perfect when emphasized by the satin-finished surface of the dial.
While looking deceptively simple, the combination of three bridges is one of the most important features here, both in terms of engineering and exterior design. The three tiny elements take a whole week to manufacture starting from cutting one from a tiny slab of gold, then skeletonizing them and drilling all the technological holes, and, finally, painstakingly beveling them and polishing to mirror finish. It’s no wonder why Girard-Perregaux is so proud of the parts that it even mentions them in the name of the collection.
The watch is powered by their relatively new GP Caliber 9600C automatic movement with a micro-rotor design that is positioned somewhat unconventionally closer to the main plate, is invisible when looked at through the sapphire case back cover, and makes the watch look like it is actually animated by a hand-wound mechanism (we have already seen another iteration of the movement in the beautiful Boucheron Hera Tourbillon.)
Compared to the ‘normal’ version, the Cal. 9600C variation of the mechanism features a rectangular shape and is better suited to power square-shaped watches. Measuring less than 29 millimeters wide, just over 30 millimeters high and only 6.25 mm thick, the mechanism allowed the Swiss watchmaker to produce compact timekeepers, even when compared to most three-handers with self-winding calibers.
As you can see on these promotional pictures, the mechanism features a rather unusual, high-tech finish with its skeletonized bridges and plates decorated with nothing more than fine vertical lines that echo those on the dial. As laconic and sober as it is, the decor still looks refined and elegant. Also, it is refreshing after seeing hundreds and even thousands of timekeepers with those inevitable Geneva Stripes motif. The circular-graining decor on the base plate is a bit banal, but, well, at least it makes the open-worked mechanism a bit more entertaining to look at by giving it some extra visual depth and making the bridges look more contrast. As usual, all components are meticulously polished and beveled by hand.
As I have already noted, the case of this timepiece is small. I would even say that, with its dimensions of 36.10 mm x 35.25 mm, it is refreshingly small and, thanks to its curved profile, feels comfortable on a normal wrist.
The only problem with ergonomics that I see here is a relatively short winding/setting crown: it may be a bit difficult to use for men who have thick and stubby fingers and also prefer to trim their nails extra short. Otherwise, don’t see anything wrong with the timekeeper’s exterior.
Noblesse obliges, as they used to say, so the pair of sapphire crystals that protect the movement from dust and water is treated with a high-quality antiglare coating that makes admiring the inner workings of the Caliber 9600C even more entertaining. The convex shape of the front crystal makes the part more prone to occasional scratches, though.
As far as the strap is concerned, the hand-sewn alligator-skin strap with its folding clasp in white gold looks well-finished and, given the brand’s pedigree and attention to detail, I am sure that you won’t be disappointed with its quality.
Dial & Legibility
Like other members of the family, this new Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 Tourbillon Three Golden Bridges won’t set a world record in legibility: there is no chapter ring, no Superluminova, and there is generally nothing that would have helped you to read time in bad lighting. However, legibility here was sacrificed in favor of beauty and I must admit that the sacrifice is well justified: the dial is absolutely gorgeous in its traditionally ice-cold sort of way.
More than that, if you don’t plan to use the ultra-expensive wristwatch as a glorified egg-timer, its ability to tell time is absolutely adequate for the task: a person owning this piece will always be able to tell time with an accuracy of up to a couple of minutes and persons who can afford such an expensive toy rarely need to be deadly accurate when it comes to most sorts of occasions, whether it is a business meeting or a trip on a private jet.
Pricing & Availability
According to the Swiss watch Manufacture, the model will be limited to only 50 pieces. Although the price is yet to be officially announced, I would wager that the watch will probably cost some $200,000 or even more given the recommended pricing of currently available similarly styled members of the collection. Of course, when it comes to ultra-luxury timekeepers, like this one, judging them in terms of value for money is pointless: they are not about value at all.
Anyway, if you consider the quality of movement, level of finish, uniqueness of the complication, and, well, the sheer mass of 18-karat white gold that this watch is fashioned from, I would say that the price is more than justified.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 Tourbillon Three Golden Bridges specification
Movement: Automatic, GP Caliber 9600C, micro-rotor design, oscillating weight in platinum, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 31
Movement frequency: 21,600 vph
Movement decoration: Vertical guilloche, circular graining; engraved, polished, and beveled by hand
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds/tourbillon
Power reserve: 48 hours
Case: White gold, 18-karat
Dimensions: 36.10 mm x 35.25 mm
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black, hand-sewn alligator-skin strap with a folding clasp in white gold
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Sapphire, antireflective