14:09:19

Tourbillon
With Three
Gold Bridges
was registered

Girard-Perregaux

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Westime Stories
Hand Holding a Watch

It is one thing for innovation to make its mark in the present. It is another for that innovation to stand the test of time. But it is a moment for the ages when that innovation evolves into an icon of its industry and perpetually re-establishes its reign atop the horological world for 135 years.

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On March 25th 1884, at 14:09:19, Constant Girard would file Girard-Perregaux’s patent for the “Tourbillon With Three Gold Bridges”. In doing so, the Swiss watchmaker gave birth to one of the most legendary journeys in horological history. The exquisite movement, featuring three gold arrow-shaped bridges, aligned in parallel on the face of the watch, broke the fourth wall of haute horology with stunning éclat. The very pillars of the internal mechanism were brought to the forefront, transposing the timepiece’s functional elements into the shining stars of its aesthetic beauty.

Five years later, the Tourbillon With Three Gold Bridges was honored with the prestigious gold medal at the 1889 Universal Exposition of Paris.

Throughout its 135 years, the Tourbillon With Three Gold Bridges has continuously found a way to remain as pertinent to its contemporary period as it was on the historic afternoon when it was patented. From its original form to its adorning of resplendent ladies’ wristwatches and to its numerous iterations varying from classical elegance to modern sophistication, the illustrious movement has become synonymous with Girard-Perregaux.

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Girard Gear

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Today, the Neo-Tourbillon With Three Bridges Skeleton astonishes with its complex and captivating architecture. Housed in a 45mm case, the titanium wristwatch is exquisitely openworked to reveal its stunning three-dimensional balance of weightlessness and bold structural character. The timepiece, endowed with an impressive 60-hour power reserve and driven by a 260-component caliber whose parts are equally parts minimalistic and intricately sophisticated, is so resolutely anchored in the 21st century that one might forget the nature of its heritage.

Side by side with the most modern of timepieces, it appears to be born from the avant-garde courage of this decade’s cutting-edge innovation. Yet side by side with its 1884 predecessor, it upholds the classical elegance and fundamental values of the brilliant invention of Constant Girard.

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At 14:09:19 on March 25th 1884, Girard-Perregaux did not merely file one of watchmaking’s most celebrated patents. It did not merely create an icon that would stand the test of time. It gave birth to a micro-mechanical and architectural foundation so special to its deep-seated core that 135 years later, the Tourbillon With Three Bridges garners as much awe in its most contemporary form as it did upon its introduction to the watchmaking world. Constantly reborn yet always connected to its treasured spirit and legacy.

Girard Watch

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For over 227 years, Girard-Perregaux has
been seeking horological perfection in
both technical and aesthetic terms.

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The second illustrious figure in the history of the brand was Constant Girard, who founded Girard & Compagnie in 1852, in his native Swiss town Chaux-de-Fonds. After marrying Marie Perregaux, who came from a well-known family of merchant watchmakers, the Manufacture Girard-Perregaux was established from the combination of their last two names, in 1856.

Constant Girard-Perregaux took an early interest in the tourbillon, a useful complication which had, at the time, fallen into oblivion. He researched extensively the structure of the movement and the shape of its components, and developed a timepiece equipped with a tourbillon regulator fitted on a caliber with three parallel bridges. It won him a first medal in 1867, at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, followed by a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1889. Ahead of his time, Girard-Perregaux introduced, in 1880, a wristwatch concept aimed at German naval officers and ordered by the German Kaiser, Wilhelm I.

It was also one of the first watchmaking companies to introduce Swiss timepieces beyond Europe. In 1865 Henri, one of his brothers-in-law, set sail for Argentina, opened an office in Buenos Aires, and spent the following 16 years promoting the brand and successfully establishing its presence throughout the American continent, along with his brother Jules. Constant’s third brother-in-law, François Perregaux, left for Singapore in 1859, with a mandate from the Swiss watch Federation to establish an export office there. In 1860, when he settled in Yokohama, he became the first Swiss merchant watchmaker to work in Japan, where he acted as official agent for Girard-Perregaux until 1877.

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After Constant Girard-Perregaux’s death in 1903, his son Constant Girard-Gallet succeeded him at the head of the Manufacture. In 1928, Otto Graef, a German watchmaker who had settled in La Chaux-de-Fonds and owned the watch brand MIMO (Manufacture Internationale de Montres en Or), which was soon to become a major player in the industry, acquired the share capital of Girard-Perregaux.

The ‘30s saw the sales of wristwatches, which Constant Girard-Perregaux had introduced 50 years earlier, overtake those of pocket watches for the first time.

In the ‘40s, the brand continued its expansion with the water-resistant Sea Hawk model, which was particularly popular in the Americas, and it created a rectangular Art Deco-inspired piece, which would be revived 50 years later and dubbed the “Vintage 1945”.

The ‘60s saw the introduction of the Gyromatic HF, and during the ‘70s the brand adapted to the quartz movement.

In 1992, entrepreneur and former racing car driver Luigi Macaluso took over the reins, and the following years were marked by the brand’s partnership and collaboration with Ferrari, while the third millennium saw the fascinating example of Multi-Axial Tourbillons, the development of women’s collections and, in 2012, the presentation of the Hawk Collection, which resumed Girard-Perregaux’s tradition in creating sporty watches.

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Girard Watches

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girard-perregaux watches
at Westime boutiques

Image credit: www.girard-perregaux.com