The dressy Girard-Perregaux 1966 (ref. 49527-52-131-BK6A) three-hander brings you the easily recognizable minimalistic styling of the 1966 Collection that is supposed to only be worn with formal attire. Sporting a traditional medium-sized body and featuring one of their highly reliable automatic movements with increased power reserve, the watch may become an instant win if the price is right. Compared to the previously available ref. 49525-52-131-BK6A model, the 1966 Automatic is not only 10 percent larger and thicker, but also offers eight more hours of guaranteed power reserve.
The movement in question is, of course, their time-proven GP4500 self-winding caliber. Manufactured solely in-house, the movement was first introduced around six years ago after four years of painstaking research and development.
At that time, when the trend for large and extra-large timekeepers was becoming clear (to say the least), the company needed a movement that wouldn’t look ridiculous in a large body (the watch is delivered in a slightly oversized -well, at least it is ‘oversized’ for a classic dress watch- 18-karat rose gold case that, thankfully, is just 10 millimeters thick so wearing one on a normal wrist would still be no problem at all.)
The increase in size (the GP4500 is 4.40 mm larger in diameter than their earlier GP3100 base caliber) also allowed introducing a larger mainspring barrel and more massive oscillating weight letting Girard-Perregaux kill three birds with, um, two stones: they significantly (by around 1/4th) increased the minimum power reserve of the mechanism while making automatic winding more efficient and also noticeably improving its isochronism because longer and stronger spring usually tends to produce more constant torque during the day (or rather the night if you prefer to take the watch off your wrist while going to sleep and the spring seizes to receive constant jolts of energy from movements of your hand.)
As you can see, the 1966 Automatic sports a highly recognizable exterior with its leaf-shaped hands, applied hour markers and the blued steel second hand with the signature counterweight. For an automatic time measuring device with its list of ‘complications’ limited to nothing more impressive than a simple calendar, the Caliber GP4500 is thin being less than four millimeters in height, so GP’s designers managed to keep the timepiece’s overall height within the 10 millimeter range, even despite the domed sapphire crystal that covers the opaline dial.
Together with its slightly oversized (for a dress watch) diameter of 41 millimeters, this refined model looks slender and well-proportioned.
The personalized setting crown, although small, doesn’t look especially hard to handle. At least, I have never heard any complaints regarding its ease of use even from people that happen to possess podgy fingers.
* UPDATE ON PRICE: Soon after this brief review was published, it was confirmed that the new wristwatch will go on sale wearing a price tag of $16,500 USD (of course, the MSRP may vary a great deal depending on where you happen to live.) While certainly impressive per se, the price actually looks more or less adequate to the combination of a mildly oversized 18-karat rose gold body and a high-grade in-house caliber. Besides, numerous online stores will probably offer some 25 or maybe even 30 percent discount over the base price although I, to be frank, am not sure whether it is actually wise to buy such an expensive timekeeper from a web-based store. After all, GP itself frowns upon the practice openly and may refuse you the factory warranty if the piece is bought from a gray(-ish) seller.
Girard-Perregaux 1966 (ref. 49527-52-131-BK6A) specification
Price: $16,500 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber GP4500, in-house, large barrel, 30 mm x 3.95 mm, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 28
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 54 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Case: Rose gold
Size: 41.00 mm
Case height: 10.00 mm
Hour markers: Rose gold
Hands: Rose gold
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with rose gold pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, domed, anti-reflective coating