Girard Perregaux has created the spectacular Néo Tourbillon
Girard-Perregaux has taken the risk to reconstruct the greatest treasure of its collection. The result is more than a remarkable interpretation - it is an ode to style and technique in their purest sense.
Everyone knows that exceptional timepieces do not go out of fashion and the Tourbillon with Three Bridges by Girard-Perregaux is one of them. Created around 1860, it was developed from a simple construction principle: one bridge for each of the main sections of the movement, i.e., the barrel spring, the center wheel and the tourbillon. The caliber’s esthetic balance derives from these three metallic bands, which were later cut into arrow shapes. The three bands together with four chronometry awards won between 1865 and 1911 established the watch’s reputation. For many years the manufacture only risked slight variations to the watch, some of which were quite successful.
However, the introduction of the Néo Tourbillon at Baselworld this year will signal a clean break. This piece is audacious and futuristic, yet faithful to the original without betraying it. The bridges have been turned into skeletonized arcs and the plate has been opened at the center to make way for the whole mechanism, and all this is visible under a domed sapphire crystal.
For some time now, shifting volumes around inside the case has evolved into a trend, thanks to modern designing software, Another trend has been the staging of mobile parts of the movement and dreaming up new ways of displaying time... However, technical achievements cannot replace the creative eye and the artistic feel that makes a product coherent, attractive and successful. Too often, engineers use a mathematical raster to the detriment of creating a strong and neat identity for the piece. However, the Néo Tourbillon has escaped that fate. Quite the contrary, its metamorphosis deserves our full attention as it expresses the essence and distinctive codes of the Tourbillon with Three Bridges so well, and it has nothing at all to do with the earlier versions and represents a fresh start.
Inclined rails for extra thickness
Powerful, sober and honed, the Néo Tourbillon conveys vigorous ideas. The first idea is the skeletonized and robotized bridges that maintain the watch’s mechanics. Web-like, they recall the suspension bridges or skyscrapers of the 19th century, with their structural beams and cast-iron rivets. Here the bridges are in titanium and have been manufactured in-house. The three bridges have been anchored along two inclined rails and join the back of the movement at the center to the elevated rims. This particularly deep corridor was a brilliant idea as it allowed to increase the depth of the watch without making the whole piece any thicker. This major reorganization left more space for the caliber’s organs, particularly the tourbillon. The omnipresent visible beating and gyrations create an animation that is greatly appreciated by clients. The 14.44-mm caliber of the Néo Tourbillon is a large version that is very – perhaps too – rare on the markets. Moreover, choosing titanium for the cage made the whole piece lighter: 0.25 grams for 80 components. The barrel spring and micro- rotor unit has also been transformed: they have been hitched back to back and therefore share the same diameter.
This new mechanism can be seen through a domed sapphire crystal that looks like a kind of capsule placed over the vertical edges of the case middle. It acts almost like a magnifying glass and allows us to see the inside of the watch completely, even from the sides. This hemisphere of sapphire is indeed something unique.
The Néo Tourbillon is a great piece in every sense, even in diameter. Indeed, with its 45-millimeter diameter, it classifies as a very large timepiece. The only drawback would be the case, which has not been given quite the same creative energy as the rest of the watch. Nevertheless, the Néo Tourbillon is the first of a new type of watch and therefore leaves room for improvements. In any case, put aside CHF 156,600 if you want to see it from your wrist.