Hands-On With The Totally Bonkers Girard-Perregaux Classic Bridges

Hands-On With The Totally Bonkers Girard-Perregaux Classic Bridges

Based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Girard-Perregaux has been in existence since 1791 and serves as the very epitome of fine watchmaking. The new Classic Bridges collection illustrates its modern watchmaking expertise while preserving the classicism of the design for which it is historically renowned. Let’s go hands-on!

By Benjamin Teisseire

The Girard-Perregaux Three Gold Bridges helped to secure a place for the brand at the top of the Swiss fine watchmaking world when the celebrated Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges was awarded the coveted gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889. However, to maintain such a prestigious position requires continual inventiveness. That particular mission has been accomplished with the brand's latest collection.

Graphical architecture

At first glance, one is struck by the architecture of the piece, which commands a bold presence on the wrist. But this is no ordinary timepiece. Volumes and depths form counterpoints in what is a highly contemporary arrangement of watchmaking elements. The modern design reconciles a profusion of details with a certain aesthetic restraint that gives rise to a piece of unprecedented harmony. The symmetry of the piece throughout, top and bottom, right and left, is at first almost disruptive. Then, upon closer observation, we begin to understand the piece. It is revealed in all its glory. We start to decipher its secrets.

And only then do we realize the full extent of its natural beauty. The rose gold bridges, just two of them on this edition, are eye-catching. Their distinctive arrow-head silhouette is instantly recognizable. The first, centrally-placed bridge lends the watch its pleasing symmetry, holding the broad Dauphine-style hour and minute hands aloft as they sweep across the face of this architectural gem. Legibility is thus enhanced, which is no mean feat in an open-worked dial. The second bridge, positioned between 4:30 and 7:30, elegantly holds in place the balance spring visible at 6 o'clock. This lends an interesting geometry to the piece and brings the assertive face to life. The upper portion, partly skeletonized, gives its symmetry to the power barrel between 1 and 2 o'clock and the micro-rotor between 10 and 11 o'clock. The unique mirror-polishing creates a never-ending play of light, thereby staging a constant spectacle for admiring glances!

A profusion of details

Once the mind has unraveled the intricate architecture, the eye is greeted by a plethora of captivating features. The hour and minute hands alternate between polished and satin-finish accents and the fine Luminova-coated ridge makes for even greater legibility. The rose gold hour and the minute circle framing the central display is seemingly suspended in mid-air. Tiny black lacquer droplets count out the minutes, while the rose gold applique hour markers dominate the whole as if to accentuate the play of volumes. These, too, boast a luminescent coating to increase legibility.

The subtle interplay of volume and depth created by the curves of the watch case give a profile of great finesse and elegance, albeit contained within a thickness of 11.7mm. The curved lugs provide for exceptional wearer comfort, which is enhanced by the triple deployant buckle in rose gold. All the details one might expect from a piece of fine watchmaking may be observed in this model. And the superlative finishing only serves to confirm its flawless excellence.

Fine watchmaking finishing

Self-winding mechanical movement reference GP08600-0001, produced entirely in-house, presents a level of finishing rarely seen in a "simple" hours-minutes watch. Its refinements are open to view through the sapphire crystal back, but they positively shine forth in the dial. The brushed bottom plates provide a beautiful contrast to the polished angles, filling the watch face with character and setting off to even more significant advantage the famous Girard-Perregaux golden bridges, chamfered, rounded, and mirror-polished with satin-finished flanks. We are clearly in Fine watchmaking territory here with this subtle study in the delicate balance of harmony.

Forging a symbolic link between modernity and classicism, contemporary, and traditional watchmaking, Girard-Perregaux successfully reconciles two opposites. This renewed interpretation of the gold bridges model looks destined to become a new classic for the La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture. The Classic Bridges is available in rose gold in 40mm and 45mm iterations.

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