At the upcoming Cabinet de Curiosites annual luxury event in London, the Swiss watch manufacturer will introduce the new version of its World Wide Time Control (ww.tc). Called Girard-Perregaux ww.tc Cabinet de Curiosites Thomas Erber (Ref. 49820-32-788SFK6A,) the timekeeper will stun you with a new color scheme that looks like it was inspired by the 2007 Portal video game. Although events of this kind are often dominated by one-offs, the redesigned watch will be limited to whole five individually numbered pieces.
First of all, as long as impressions are concerned, I must admit that I always welcome a well-established brand when it tries to discover new approaches to design: even if gold alloys and other ‘common’ materials never fail to look great, at some point they become a tad tiresome. While brands like Hublot often over-do it with their too extravagant choice of materials and too in-your-face exterior, ancient watchmaking houses like GP often do a lot better job at staying relevant by carefully mixing time-proven design with modern materials and bleeding edge tech.
While sporting the same basic functionality as the older members of their ww.tc family, the new limited edition watch now comes in a somewhat peculiar (to say the least) color scheme: its milky white, almost plasticy ceramic body is nicely accented with a smoked sapphire crystal.
Further equipped with black rubber strap, as well as with black rubberized chronograph push-pieces and a pair of setting crowns, the device looks more like a modern electronic gadget, rather than a high-end manufacture-made mechanical wrist watch that costs like a small European hatchback. And you know what? I really like this post-modernist approach to making an ultra-luxury timekeeper. After all, gold and platinum are so XX century!
Case, Bezel & Strap
Although the ceramic case seems to be more complex than the version in stainless steel (the white ceramic body is equipped with an inner titanium container that holds the precious movement,) the Swiss engineers managed to keep the timepiece’s dimension practically intact: the Girard-Perregaux ww.tc Cabinet de Curiosites Thomas Erber (Ref. 49820-32-788SFK6A) still measures 43 millimeters in diameter and is just 13.54 mm thick.
The ultra-thin fixed ceramic bezel allows for larger dial opening and adequately compensate the deliberate wideness of the rotating “city ring”. It also seems to be offering good protection for the sapphire crystal although it still doesn’t turn the watch into a daily “beater”: as scratch-resistance as it is, the ceramic case is still fragile enough to be prone to dents and perhaps even cracks if you don’t wear it with necessary care.
As for the strap, it is soft to touch and feels quite comfortable although exchanging it into a perforated one may be a good idea if you plan to wear the watch during summer heatwaves.
Dial & Legibility
The dial here is basically the same as on other timekeepers of the series with the bright red “LONDON” inscription being the only exception.
Besides telling time in your current time zone, the watch also displays the same information for your home town. Although the data is presented in a 24-hour format, there is also a day/night indication on the GMT disk.
If you haven’t noticed already, the watch lacks the traditional second hour hand, which is usually employed to indicate time in another city. Instead, the ww.tc has the aforementioned 24-hour disk slowly rotating in such a way so that the main (and only) hour hand tells you time in both zones.
Although the concept clearly requires some getting used to, it is certainly very comfortable and ergonomic. Also, it is unusual and quite entertaining.
The three sub-dials on its white dial are reserved for a small seconds indicator at 3 hours, as well as a pair of chronograph totalizers: a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock and a 30-minute display at 9 o’clock.
As far as legibility is concerned, the dial of this piece looks exceptionally busy with all these elements rushing onto you in a screaming crowd in order to tell you their own story.
Even within the niche of “world chronographs,” the watch clearly won’t earn the highest prize in the “legibility/readability” department, yet, I must admit that it is still more or less usable although I won’t be able to give it more than three, well, maybe three and a half stars out of five. The aforementioned ‘smoked’ sapphire crystal clearly doesn’t help by reducing the dial’s overall contrast ratio in twilight although there is still enough of Superluminova on the hands for the watch to be read in total darkness.
According to the Swiss watchmaker, the ceramic ww.tc is equipped with their own Caliber GP03387 self-winding movement. Being a variation of the earlier Caliber GP033C0 that, among other wristwatches, powers the gorgeous Girard-Perregaux ww.tc World Wide Time Control Chronograph for Green Auction (Piece Unique) that was revealed this March, the movement offers superb reliability, but, regretfully, offers very Spartan (at least, for a brand of such high pedigree as Girard-Perregaux) exterior finish with nothing more than the usual circular and diagonal Geneva stripes, blued screws and all the usual stuff.
On the other hand, the finish may actually be deliberately simplified in order to better match the overall high-tech look and feel of the watch itself.
Pricing & Availability
As I have already noted, the timekeeper’s total production run will be limited at just five numbered pieces. The watch will be presented in London on 16th November, 2011 and you have less than six days to make impressive £17,900 available in cash to pay for this beauty. Although it is impossible to predict how collectable it will become in the future, I would say that the price is still very good if you take into account the gadget’s extreme exclusivity, which is nicely combined with good in-house movement and a remarkable choice of materials used for this beautiful device.
As for the general availability, I have heard that the piece will be available only through select Girard-Perregaux boutiques in certain countries and there is a good chance that all five pieces will be reserved during the aforementioned Cabinet de Curiosites even in London and the proverbial clock is ticking.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Girard-Perregaux ww.tc Cabinet de Curiosites Thomas Erber (Ref. 49820-32-788SFK6A) specification
Price: £17,900 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber GP03387, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 63
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Movement decoration: Crafted, assembled and decorated by hand
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, second time zone (GMT,) chronograph
Power reserve: 46 hours
Case material: Titanium and ceramic
Bezel material: Ceramic
Crown material: Black rubber
Size: 43.00 mm
Case height: 13.54 mm
Hour markers: Citi disk
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black rubber strap with folding clasp in black DLC-coated titanium
Crystal: Smoked sapphire
Back: Smoked sapphire