Girard-Perregaux Free Bridge Meteorite

Cosmic Wonder: Girard-Perregaux Unveils the Free Bridge Meteorite

Join us as we explore the newest addition to the iconic Bridges collection, featuring extraterrestrial material and a captivating dial-side balance wheel.

By Henri Lee

To watch enthusiasts, little is more captivating than looking at the dial of your watch and witnessing the beating of its mechanical heart. Luckily, the iconic Bridges collection from Girard-Perregaux has been pioneering this micro-mechanical marvel since the 1860s.

And while many of this collection’s models showcase tourbillons, some recent offerings feature the oscillating balance wheel near the 6 o’clock position, offering the wearer a mesmerizing look at a hallmark of traditional watchmaking.

Now Girard-Perregaux unveils a new addition to the Bridges collection, the Free Bridge Meteorite. The use of meteorite, a material exclusive to high-end timepieces, instantly elevates the allure of this novelty and only adds to its delightfully avant-garde design.

In fact, this whimsical creation is a prime candidate for those seeking a timepiece off the beaten path, so let’s take a look at it.

A Brief History

Established in 1791, Girard-Perregaux is one of the oldest fine watchmaking manufactures still thriving today. Situated in La Chaux-de-Fonds, often hailed as the “watchmaking capital of Switzerland,” Girard-Perregaux operates as part of the Sowind Group SA under the leadership of CEO Mr. Patrick Pruniaux.

Followed by the Laureato collection with 28 models, the Bridges collection has 44 models, making it Girard-Perregaux’s largest family of watches. However, while the Laureato design dates back to 1975, the legendary Bridges line traces its origins back to Girard-Perregaux’s pocket watches crafted around the 1860s, featuring three bridges on the dial.

Presently, the collection boasts 35 tourbillons, many showcasing the iconic three arrow-shaped bridges. Prices for these timepieces live in the six-digit range. So, to make these watches more accessible, the watchmakers at Girard-Perregaux created the Neo Bridges and Free Bridge models.

These sub-families replace the tourbillon typically scene on the dial of Three Bridges models with the balance wheel Plus, the design of the only bridge visible on the dial was updated from the Three Bridges’ traditional arrow shape to a more contemporary wrench-shaped design.

The initial two Free Bridge models, launched in 2020, garnered favorable reviews. Today, the introduction of the third and latest model, the Free Bridge Meteorite, enriches the storied collection with a fantastic new material.

A Design with Symmetry, Depth, and Motion

The Free Bridge features a movement from the same family as the Laureato Skeleton, the Calibre GP01800. However, it is inverted on the Free Bridges, looking as if it was flipped 180 degrees so that the bridge for the balance is at 6 o’clock.

Yet, despite its contemporary appearance, the Free Bridge’s single neo-bridge, visible at 6 o’clock, distinctly echoes the DNA of the historical three-bridge design, evident in its layout and the design’s overall symmetry. And while not fully skeletonized, wearers can peer into the depths of the movement, observing components such as the gear train, escape wheel, and mainspring.

The dauphine-styled hour and minute hands are skeletonized and rhodium-plated with luminescent material, while the suspended hour indices, coated with luminescence, reinforce the three-dimensional styling. Moreover, the rotating balance wheel at the center captivates the eye, offering an engaging spectacle and making a second hand redundant. Plus, the prominent placement of purple jewels adds a touch of sparkle to the dial.

The Making of Meteorite Plates

Due to their naturally occurring flow lines and the allure of an out-of-this-world material, meteorite dials are highly coveted among watch collectors. And for the Free Bridge Meteorite, Girard-Perregaux used pieces from the Gibeon meteorite discovered in Namibia (which is especially prized by collectors and jewelers for the beauty of its Widmanstätten pattern).

The process of creating the final plates is quite challenging. It begins by cutting the meteorite into slices, which are then machined into the desired shapes and pierced to accommodate screws. The plates then undergo a treatment process to accentuate their texture and patterns.

Finally, the plates are rhodium-plated to add a protective layer. The end results are beautiful meteorite plates that make each watch a unique piece.

Caliber GP01800-2085 Enhanced with Silicium

The Free Bridge Meteorite is powered by the brand’s own Calibre GP01800-2085, the latest iteration based on the GP01800 movement. A self-winding 4 Hz movement consisting of 185 components, including 23 jewels, with a power reserve of 54 hours, the main change is the use of silicium for the escape wheel, pallet lever, and the arms of the balance wheel.

The benefits of silicium are numerous, including a reduced sensitivity to magnetism and shocks that result in more accurate timekeeping. Furthermore, with less friction from the silicon materials, the GP01800-2085 is more durable than movements without this material.

Finally, the GP01800-2085 was modified to ensure a symmetrical look, with the mainspring at 12 o’clock and the balance wheel at 6 o’clock.

An Exceptional Offering for Discerning Collectors

While the spinning balance wheel supported by the iconic Neo Bridge stands as the main attraction of all Free Bridge models, the two meteorite plates cradling the hour and minute hands undoubtedly contribute to the Free Bridge Meteorite’s specific allure.

Priced at $25,700, this novelty targets watch collectors and enthusiasts seeking to own a distinctive timepiece with avant-garde design at a relatively accessible price point. For further details on the new Free Bridge Meteorite, visit the Girard-Perregaux website.

(Images © Girard-Perregaux)

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