At the Baselworld 2013 trade show, the Swiss watchmaker has re-introduced its Girard-Perregaux 1966 Tourbillon Gold Bridge (refs. 99535-52-131-BKBA & 99535-53-131-BK6A) collection. Not only dressy but also extremely classy with their understated exterior and carefully decorated dials, the watches have always been “signature” models for the brand. Judging by the 2013 collection’s specs, this one is more of a mild face-lift, rather than a full-fledged next-generation with a new movement and all.
If you keep a watchful eye on this Swiss-based Manufacture, you probably know that Girard-Perregaux tends to use different approaches when it comes to the exterior styling of their expensive “Haute Horlogerie” and, well, more “common” affordable collections.
Predictably, the former uses a more classic design language that changes from baroque to art deco from one sub-collection to another, while the latter (especially their outstanding 1966 Collection of vintage-styled dressy timepieces) sports a more organic design with clean dials and long, stick-shaped hour markers. Well, of course, that’s just a general rule with numerous variations available with all sorts of limited-edition models that the brand introduces from time to time.
This new 2013 Girard-Perregaux 1966 Tourbillon Gold Bridge, for example, now speaks the same “modern” design language as their less expensive wristwatches. Having the original Breguet-styled italicized Arabic numerals replaced with razor-sharp hour markers the watch now looks a lot cleaner and is actually easier to read for a person who’s used to analog time representation. The original blued hands were, too, swapped for polished gold (either white or rose, depending on the material of the case) although that didn’t make the watch more legible: on the contrary, you will now have to put more strain on your eyes trying to read time in certain lighting scenarios. Still, I don’t see it as a problem: for a dress watch superb readability is welcomed, but still is not something that should go in the way of making the exterior impeccable.
Some persons (including yours truly) may have an impression that, together, these design elements give the watch a less warm, more sterile appearance that may possibly appeal to that kind of deeply introverted men that tend to run the companies that surprise us with new electric vehicles, revolutionary software products, and ground-breaking methods of making electronics.
Ticking inside this cold beauty is the watchmaker’s own Girard-Perregaux caliber 09600-series automatic movement.
Judging by its specs (48 hours of power reserve, 31 jewels, and cadence of the balance wheel of delightfully archaic 21,600 vibrations per hour), this is the same GP 9610 engine that powered the original 1966 Tourbillon Gold Bridge that was released in 2011. The mechanisms are assembled and decorated by hand, so quality tends to be top-notch although you should realize that, being as fine mechanical device as it is, the movement needs to be properly taken care of on a regular basis by a qualified service person: it’s not a daily beater designed to, um, take regular beatings and still keep good time.
As before, the meticulously decorated movement features their signature “bassine” tourbillon bridge, which is done either in rose or white gold matching the material of the compact 40 mm body. While the bridge is not as lavishly decorated as similarly styled timekeepers made by A. Lange & Sohne, it still looks compelling in its serene elegance.
Not sure whether it is the current economic situation to blame or there is some other reason, but this version will be even more exclusive than the original. According to the Swiss watchmaking house, there will be only five pieces in white gold (ref. 99535-53-131-BK6A) and 25 watches in flashier rose gold cases (ref. 99535-52-131-BKBA).
Pricing is still to be announced, but it surely will be pretty far from being even remotely affordable.
Girard-Perregaux 1966 Tourbillon Gold Bridge specification
Price: $156,000 USD (MSRP, ref. 99535-52-131-BKBA)
Movement: Automatic, caliber GP 09600, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 31
Movement frequency: 21,600 vph
Power reserve: 48 hours
Movement decoration: Signature “bassine” tourbillon bridge in rose or white gold respectively, decorated by hand
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds/tourbillon
Case: Rose gold / White gold
Size: 40.00 mm
Hour markers: Rose gold / White gold
Hands: Match case
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black or brown leather strap with matching gold pin buckle
Back: Solid gold, engraved