Geneva Watch Days: Hands-On With Girard-Perregaux’s New Onyx Dialed Infinity Collection
The Vintage 1945, 1966, Cosmos, and Laureato Infinity Editions, bring minimalist élan to haute horology.
Working from home has affected how we dress. On the one hand, sales of simple, athleisure-inspired clothing have skyrocketed but at the same time, there’s a growing demand for luxury. Like cashmere joggers as opposed to cotton sweatpants, curated bookshelves for those Zoom call backgrounds, and fine jewelry for everyday wear. It’s all about the execution of the details.
In the words of the famously chic designer, Coco Chanel, who said, "Elegance is refusal.” And while Chanel was no slouch when it came to accessorizing, she always erred in favor of timeless styles made from luxurious materials and pieces that worked in any situation.
With its new cross-category Infinity collection, Girard-Perregaux highlights its watchmaking savoir-faire by stripping away the bling.
The Infinity collection consists of eight new pieces with a similar dial design philosophy but interpreted across four existing Girard-Perregaux categories – 1945, 1966, Cosmos, and Laureato.
The Vintage 1945 Infinity Edition and the 1966 Infinity Editions are homages to 20th-century sophistication. What ties these tributes to two very distinctive decades is the onyx-colored watch faces. “Onyx is the new black,” said Girard-Perregaux’s CEO, Patrick Pruniaux. “The Vintage 1945 Infinity Edition and both the 1966 Infinity Editions in 40mm and 30mm capture the beauty of the past but are refined for today and beyond, courtesy of timeless aesthetics and mechanical virtue.”
Both models also eschew frippery, as Pruniaux explained, “These watches shun complexity; instead, they encompass pure lines and graceful proportions. All three models impart time lucidly and exhibit a becoming simplicity.”
These timepieces reinterpret the design codes of their respective eras but still address the sensibilities of our modern times. The Vintage 1945 Infinity is housed in a steel case measuring 36.10 x 35.25mm, while the 1966 Infinity is available in a 30mm case for ladies, and a 40mm version for men.
These understated silhouettes allow Girard-Perregaux’s team to showcase their watchmaking skills.
According to Clémence Dubois, Girard-Perregaux’s Chief Product Marketing Officer, “Delicately shaping the black onyx dials into their respective rectangular and round shapes require an inordinate amount of skill. It involves no less than 15 meticulous operations spread over many months within our manufacture.”
The original rectangular shape of the Girard-Perregaux 1945 distilled the essence of the late Art Deco era. The new Vintage 1945 Infinity Edition also features the signatures of that age, curving around the wrist ergonomically with stylish dauphine-type hour and minute hands and pink gold indices. And the crown and bracelet are seamlessly integrated into the case with elegant gadroons positioned above and below the dial.
The in-house manufacture movement employs a patented ‘grande date’ display, which uses two separate discs spaced just 0.1mm apart. This mechanism is made up of 282 components and proclaims the date in a highly legible form.
The 1966 Infinity Edition evokes the swag of the Sixties with its ultra-thin case, round dial, leaf-shaped hands, and pink gold indices. To complete the mid-century aesthetic, it comes with a matching leather strap. For present-day enthusiasts, a display caseback lets you admire the self-winding movement and accompanying pink gold oscillating weight.
Finally, the 30mm steel case of the 1966 Infinity Edition for ladies is set with 60 diamonds, totaling 0.55 carats.
Bet On Black
If the 1945 and 1966 Infinity Editions speak to the beauty and functionality of Girard-Perregaux’s past, the Cosmos and Laureto Infinity models have a more futuristic feeling. Once again, the theme that unites all of these timepieces is the onyx.
“The Cosmos Infinity Edition is a journey through the stars that makes the invisible visible,” said Pruniaux. And indeed, the Cosmos Infinity Edition is an extremely complicated timepiece, featuring a lyre-shaped tourbillon cage that is held in position by Girard-Perregaux’s signature Neo Bridge. There is also a terrestrial globe positioned at 3 o’clock to indicate day or night and a celestial globe displaying the constellations of the Zodiac at 9 o’clock.
Both globes are formed of polished onyx and are hand-decorated using micro-painting, which can be personalized on request.
The watchmaker’s art is celebrated by the calibrations of each globe. The passage of terrestrial time is based on the Earth’s orbital motion, and the solar day is a full rotation of the Earth on its axis every 24 hours. The solar day is shown on the 3 o'clock day/night indicator globe. Celestial time, aka sidereal time, is used by astronomers to find celestial objects in the sky. And because Earth orbits the Sun, the average solar day is four minutes longer than a sidereal day. Thus, the Zodiac globe at 9 o’clock shows the celestial vault scrolling past the Earth in just 23 hours and 56 minutes. While the difference is barely perceptible to the human eye, it is a demonstration of Girard Perregaux’s meticulous eye for precision.
To make the Cosmos Infinity Edition even more engaging, the Neo Bridge is made of space-age Grade 5 titanium alloy and treated with black PVD, is sandblasted, and hand-beveled. The bridge, presented at the base of the mainplate, also offers clear views of the tourbillon cage, balance, and escapement in motion.
The layout of the Cosmos Infinity Edition is very rational, with all the complications symmetrically laid out. And the use of hand-polished black onyx for the dial and globes symbolizes the depth of the universe and its infinite mystery. To keep the display clean, an innovative, pocket watch-inspired winding and setting system is located on the reverse of the timepiece. The setting system features three engravings, all filled with luminescent ceramic, to indicate the function of each bélière, or bow.
The same ideals of ‘Haute Horlogerie’ have been applied to the insides of the Cosmos Infinity Edition. Its Calibre GP09320-1440 incorporates the same hand-beveling as the titanium Neo Bridge, and the mainplate is black PVD-treated and further embellished with circular-graining.
The display caseback features a flat sapphire crystal, but the front has a sapphire crystal box to allow for a three-dimensional view of the dial.
As Pruniaux aptly stated, “The Cosmos Infinity is a celestial feat that ties together all the novelties we’re launching at the Geneva Watch Days.”
Last but not least of Girard-Perregaux’s Infinity Editions is the new Laureato Infinity Edition. This timepiece also celebrates an exclusive distribution agreement with WEMPE across Germany as well as the retailer’s New York and London flagship stores for a limited period.
In 1975, Girard-Perregaux was one of the first brands to embrace sporty elegance with the Laureato – a chic timepiece with an octagonal bezel, stainless steel case, and bracelet.
The Laureato is an extremely versatile watch. Originally, its mix of straight lines and curves, in addition to its blend of polished and satin-brushed surfaces, meant that it could move effortlessly between office hours and after hours.
Now, its versatility means the Laureato can easily adapt to our changing times. Available in 38mm and 42mm stainless steel options, the Laureato Infinity Edition has been elevated with a handcrafted black onyx dial.
The silver-toned, baton-shaped hour and minute hands pick up on the steel motif, while its luxury is emphasized by a pink gold central second hand, applied indices, and Girard-Perregaux logo. For additional grandeur, the bezel of the Laureato 38mm is adorned with 56 brilliant-cut diamonds totaling 0.90 carats.
Both versions of the Laureato Infinity Edition feature an in-house self-winding movement, enhanced with traditional finishing and a pink gold oscillating weight.
“We have entrusted WEMPE with this latest version of our iconic watch, the Laureato,” said Pruniaux. “Both of our companies have long histories and share common values which explains why we chose this Infinity model as a metaphor for a partnership we hope will last long into the future.”
Infinity And Beyond
The Vintage 1945 Infinity model is limited to just 88 pieces, while both the 30mm and 40mm versions of the 1966 Infinity are limited to 188 pieces each.
All three models will be available worldwide in authorized Girard-Perregaux retailers from September 2020. During September 2020, the 1966 Infinity Edition 40mm will be sold exclusively on MrPorter.com.
The Cosmos Infinity Edition will also be available worldwide from selected authorized Girard-Perregaux retailers in September 2020.
WEMPE will be the exclusive distributor for both the 38mm and 42mm versions of the Laureato Infinity model for a limited period of two months in select points of sale across Germany as well as its flagship stores in New York and London, beginning in September 2020. Subsequently, both models will be available worldwide in authorized Girard-Perregaux retailers.
(Images provided by Girard-Perregaux, Watchonista photography by Pierre Vogel)