girard perregaux - Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Titanium Bridges
Luc Virginius / Chronopassion
girard perregaux - Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Titanium Bridges

Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Titanium Bridges

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A new approach to the minute repeater

Deeply attached to its origins and to watchmaking traditions since 1791, Girard-Perregaux regularly shows in its watch creations to what extent innovation can contribute to the dynamism of the watch industry. By giving a totally new dimension to the mechanical structure of the striking mechanism, the Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Titanium Bridges watch underlines the Swiss Manufacture's constant determination to advance technically while respecting the aesthetic conventions and time-honored expertise that are so close to its heart.       

The mechanical structure of this Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Titanium Bridges offers an original opportunity to simultaneously observe on the dial side both the components of the striking-mechanism and the hammers that produce its sound by striking the wires of the gongs. In a major innovation, this positioning of the components facilitates optimum sound transmission when the watch is on the wearer's wrist. This underlines a desire not only to create a mechanism that is as attractive as it is efficient, but also to place it clearly on display for the enjoyment of one and all.  

Girard-Perregaux took the ambitious decision of asking its teams of watchmakers and engineers to create a brand new type of caliber with a totally original mechanical structure that makes the invisible visible. Underlying this approach is an implicit desire to perpetuate the Firm's expertise and watchmaking tradition, embodied by the Tourbillon with Titanium Bridges also found in this model.  This emblem of the Girard-Perregaux brand, the design of which was patented in 1884, is today perceived as the aesthetic, technical and even symbolic essence of one of the most venerable Swiss watch manufactures still in existence.   

Innovation through tradition

How to produce a strong, clear sound from a wristwatch equipped with a minute repeater mechanism only too often continues to be a stumbling-block for many watchmakers.  Scores, if not hundreds, of different solutions have been proposed in order to perceptibly improve the volume of sound produced by these timepieces, the principle of which first emerged at the turn of the 17th century.  However, Girard-Perregaux purposely chose not to implement any of the previously existing solutions.  None of these succeeds in both beguiling the ear by diffusing a powerful melody and delighting the eye by giving the wearer the opportunity to observe the components of the striking-mechanism during the course of their movements.

With its desire to infuse a spirit of creativity into the notoriously tradition-bound world of watch complications, the Girard-Perregaux Manufacture proposes a classic watch that displays on its front side not only a Tourbillon with Titanium Bridges, but also, still on the same side, the majority of the components that enable the minute repeater complication to produce a strong, clear sound, even when in position on the wrist. To achieve such a result, the watchmakers were obliged to re-design not only the entire manual caliber, but also its method of construction and operation. 

 

Giving sound the quality it deserves

The approach adopted here, which is as complex as it is original, perceptibly improves acoustic performance while offering observers the opportunity to appreciate the subtle mechanism of the minute repeater complication not only with their ears but also with their eyes. It should be noted that this is set in motion by sliding a bolt traditionally placed at 8 o'clock on the left-hand side of the case-band.  Sliding this trigger-piece rewinds the spring contained in the minute repeater barrel.  Once the maximum limit has been attained, this minute repeater winding mechanism releases the "on-off" control - an organ designed to prevent the striking-mechanism from starting if the winding of the trigger is not fully completed, thus preventing an incorrect acoustic indication of the time. The enhanced structure that allows the components of the striking-mechanism to be seen through the opening cut into the dial and the astute positioning of the hammers and gongs on the same side, enables the observer to follow the triggering operations with his gaze, while at the same time also watching the hammers strike the gongs. It will be seen that, of all the minute repeater components, the only one that remains both invisible to the eye and almost undetectable by the ear is the complex organ known as the flywheel. Designed to regulate the hammers' striking speed, it operates on the case-back side so as to limit any sound emissions, however feeble they may be, and thus guarantees this watchmaking musical instrument's acoustic qualities.

In these enhanced conditions, the delicate components of the striking-mechanism, each given their own traditional finishing, wind up and then release the hammers so as to strike with absolute consistency first the hours (in a low tone), then the quarter-hours (in a combination of high and low tones), and finally the minutes (in a high tone).     

The decision to position the two gongs facing the inner side of the hour circle crafted in Titanioum, and to also place here the hammers (the shape of which is inspired by the Gold Bridges first patented in 1884), goes beyond mere aesthetic considerations.  This positioning enables the acoustic wave, duly regulated at a carefully calibrated frequency, to reverberate harmoniously and not, as is only too often the case, to be confined by the excessive proximity of surfaces such as the skin, well known as possessing a density that easily absorbs sound waves.   In addition to this, the relationship between the size of the case and that of the caliber has been carefully studied so as to offer the best possible volumetric arrangement, as in the case of musical string instruments. Even better, the inside of the case has been specially crafted and finished so as to limit any acoustic interference that might arise.  And since there is no room for false notes in a Half musical instrument, half kinetic sculpture

It is the highly unusual structure of the striking-mechanism, together with the adoption of a number of subtle technical solutions for this complication that has allowed the Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Titanium Bridges to perform so exceptionally well.   Thus, in order to enhance the transmission of the sound wave between the heels of the two gongs, the link between the main plate and the Titanium case-band has been stiffened. This is not all, however. To increase the speed of the hammers and consequently their striking impact, they are each mounted on a pair of jewels acting as ball-bearings so as to reduce friction.  The design of this structure has such a harmonious visual impact that it may seem simple.

However things that look easy are in fact often exceedingly complex to achieve. No fewer than 270 hours of painstaking labour by a master watchmaker are required to assemble and adjust this magnificent mechanism. This work is made all the more arduous by the fact that the method of production of the minute repeater complication, with its hammers placed on the same plane as the racks used to wind them up prior to striking, makes it necessary to adjust the hammers outside the movement using a special tool simulating their future position.  Nevertheless the final result is there for all to see, and these small components made from black polished tempered steel and beveled to highlight their original design inspired by the watch's three titanium bridges, produce thanks to their high degree of inertia a clear, powerful note at each strike. 

A mechanical structure inspired by the Girard-Perregaux tradition 

 

To house this exceptional mechanism, Girard-Perregaux has chosen a round case with a domed case-band prolonged by the slender lugs that are characteristic of models in the Haute Horlogerie collections.  Its gently inclined bezel allows for a wide opening out over the movement and facilitates the captivating spectacle of the minute repeater mechanism, of the hammers, gongs and Tourbillon. The emblematic arrow-shaped Titanium Girard-Perregaux Bridges and marking-plates identify the pedigree of this mechanism, with its irreproachable finishes, crafted in accordance with the long traditions of the Manufacture. The caliber is also revealed on the case-back side with a third Titanium Bridge and the Girard-Perregaux logo engraved on the main plate.

 

Technical specifications

Technical Specifications

 

Case in Titanium

Diameter: 45,00 mm 

Crystal: anti-reflective sapphire

Case-back: sapphire crystal, secured by 6 screws

Water resistance: 30 meters (3 ATM)

Integrated side bolt in the case at 9 o’clock for activation of the minute repeater

Internal flange in Titanium with circular graining. Applied indexes in pink gold, polished

 

Girard-Perregaux GP09500-0002 movement

Mechanical, manual winding

Diameter: 32,00 mm (14’’’ ¼ )

Thickness: 9,35 mm 

Frequency: 21.600 Vib/h - (3 Hz)

Power reserve: minimum 58 hours

Jewels: 37

Number of components: 406

Arrow-shaped Bridges and marking plates in Titanium 

Functions: Tourbillon and minute repeater, hour, minute 

 

Tourbillon: 

  • Tourbillon carriage: 91 components for 0.49 g

Diameter: 13,60 mm

  • Balance wheel: variable inertia with pink gold setting screws 
  • One rotation per minute 

 

Minute repeater: 

  • Gong on two tones in steel 20AP (hours and quarters on the first tone, minutes and quarters on the second tone) 
  • Hammer inspired by the arrow-shaped Bridges of Girard-Perregaux, jewels above and under 
  • Speed regulator with gold inertia-blocks

 

All the components of the movement are manufactured by hand according to the criteria of the Haute Horlogerie.

 

Hand-stitched black alligator strap

Triple-Folding buckle in titanium with safety lock 

 

Reference: 99820-21-001-BA6A

Limited edition of 30 pieces.

Who's who

When you ask Laurent Picciotto about the reason for his long-standing partnership with Grand-Perregaux, he’s likely to take some time to weigh his words; there are so many good reasons for working with ‘GP’ that he needs to be sure of highlighting the right one – the one that would endure even if all the others were no more. He finally chooses to illustrate this, the reason, with an occurrence over twenty years ago somewhere in the midst of BaselWorld. “It was in 1991,” recalls Picciotto. “I was doing my rounds of the exhibition, and suddenly came to a halt in front of the tourbillon with three gold bridges. I went into the stand and asked them for a case containing three numbered timepieces, one for each type of finish. This outstanding box set, sold a few months later to one of my clients with a collection of over one thousand watches, remains for me the defining moment of all my work with Girard-Perregaux”. What emerges is that the key reason for this work together is the brand’s ability to offer exceptional timepieces that take everyone by surprise – whilst seemingly blending in flawlessly with the traditions of haute horlogerie. And so, over the years, the production of limited editions – and sometimes even unique items for Chronopassion – has become a regular feature of the two big names’ collaboration. Most of the brand’s collectors became aware that in rue Saint Honoré, they could winkle out timepieces they would never see anywhere else. A friendship was formed between the two owners, Luigi Macaluso and Laurent Picciotto, which lasted right up until Luigi’s death in 2010. For Laurent Picciotto, the history of Girard-Perregaux is rooted in haute horlogerie; he’s particularly impressed with the complications in which the brand specialises. “The tourbillon is one of Girard-Perregaux’ strengths,” he says. “Twenty years ago, it was a characteristic that really made a watch stand out. There weren’t many on the market – it was a far cry from the extensive offer that can be found these days.” Picciotto’s expectation today is that Girard-Perregaux plays to some other defining characteristic of the world of watchmaking – the stuff that great manufactures are made of. “It’s an institutional brand that commands respect and sobriety,” he adds. “This kind of brand has a duty to anticipate and surprise people. Girard-Perregaux has done so on a number of occasions and will do so again.” Keep your eyes open – “GP” could well show up just where you’re not expecting it.

Journalist : Olivier Müller (11/2012)

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