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Review: Girard Perregaux Esmeralda Tourbillon

An iconic design from the 19th century.
by  on June 4, 2016
Overview
Brand

Girard Perregaux

Complication / Type of Watch

Tourbillon

Recommended Retail Price

CHF 180,000

Positives

Iconic design, good mechanical features, beautifully finished.

Negatives

Its a statement piece no doubt, but tinges on flashiness, that's negative assuming one does not like overt luxury.

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Concept & Originality
Movement
Overall Finishing
Price Performance / Value
Future Outlook
Bottom Line

The watch is significant to the brand, but against multitude of rivals within the same price category, it is hard to pull its weight.

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Just a year ago, we reviewed the Girard Perregaux Vintage 1945 Tourbillon with Three Golden Bridges. We were amazed by the design and quality of the watch. Not to be disappointed, Girard Perregaux’s latest release at Baselworld 2016, the Girard Perregaux Esmeralda Tourbillon has once again impressed us with its high quality craftsmanship and mechanical expertise. 

 

 The Girard Perregaux Esmeralda Tourbillon measures 44 mm, and features a 14.3 mm diameter tourbillon carriage and a 10.5 mm diameter balance wheel. The overall look of the watch sings of high luxury and quality craftsmanship. Adequately sized, the dial features add to the visual spectacle.

The Girard Perregaux Esmeralda Tourbillon measures 44 mm, and features a 14.3 mm diameter tourbillon carriage and a 10.5 mm diameter balance wheel. The overall look of the watch sings of high luxury and quality craftsmanship. Adequately sized, the dial features add to the visual spectacle.

 

The Case and Dial

The Girard Perregaux Three Bridges design and concept is closely tied to the history of the brand. First seen in a pocket watch in 1889, with its modern day reissue since the ’80s and then a tonneau shaped case last year, the manufacture has this time opted for a more widely accepted case shape for today’s wearers. The Girard Perregaux Esemeralda Tourbillon is fit in a circular shaped pink gold case and measures 44 mm in diameter and 14.5 mm in thickness. To accentuate the beauty of the dial, an anti-reflective raised sapphire crystal is used. We found that the case size while rather hefty, gives the designer adequate space to show off the tourbillon cage which measures 14.3 mm and contain a 10.5 mm balance wheel. The right size and proportions give the dial balance and allows the reader to properly admire the beauty of the 3 bridges tourbillon mechanism.

 

The mainplate features a barrel bridge, geartrain bridge and tourbillon bridge made from solid gold. Their double-headed arrow design is entirely hand-decorated and is inspired by the bridges of the historical Esmeralda.

 

All three bridges are made from solid gold and the finishing of all three of them are impeccable. Their surfaces are mirror polished with hand chamfered edges and drawn flanks. For better ‘light effects’ from varying angles of reflection, the arms of the bridges are delicately rounded by hand using a burnisher.

 

gp-3b-tourbillon-detail

The tourbillon carriage, which is comprised of 80 components, is entirely hand-finished and requires extreme skill from the watchmaker assembling it. The beautiful blend of tapered bars, polished angles and contrasting metal colours adds to the visual spectacle of the tourbillon.

 

 With its characteristic hand-polished lyre, the signature of the Manufacture, this perfectly balanced organ, which performs a simply captivating rotation once per minute, houses a balance wheel which oscillates at 21,600 vibrations per hour (3Hz) and benefits from a large moment of inertia.

With its characteristic hand-polished lyre, the signature of the Manufacture, this perfectly balanced organ, which performs a simply captivating rotation once per minute, houses a balance wheel which oscillates at 21,600 vibrations per hour (3Hz) and benefits from a large moment of inertia.

 

No stones are left unturned on the dial side and the tourbillon carriage is also extremely well crafted. The carriage alone contains 80 components, of the 310 components in the movement. Laying its initials on the masterpiece, the manufacture’s signature lyre is affixed to the rotation carriage.

 

Known as reference GP09400, this large 16-ligne movement, developed and manufactured in-house. This caliber measures 36.60 mm in diameter and is 8.41 mm thick, and requires two months of work to assemble its 310 components, including 27 jewels.

The Movement

The Girard Perregaux Esmeralda Tourbillon uses the ref GP09400, a large 16-linge movement which contains more than 310 components and takes two months of work to assemble. The 27 jewel movement beats at 21,600 vph and has approximately 60 hours power reserve.

 

The unidirectional automatic winding system developed by Girard-Perregaux uses a rotor that is positioned concentrically under the barrel rather than on the outer edge. Watchmakers are thus able to increase the diameter of the barrel drum and therefore lengthen the spring to give the piece a power reserve of at least 60 hours, compared to 48 hours previously.

 

As with the dial side, the movement plate is also nicely decorated, albeit with a more subtle theme as compared to the rather flashy dial side. The usual ensemble of cote-de-geneve lines, bevelling and mirror polished screw holes can be seen. Instinctively, one looks for a conventional rotor when identifying an automatic movement, but this movement uses a rotor that is positioned under the barrel, decorated with the lyre motif.

 

Its 18-carat pink-gold case measuring 44 mm Traditional and contemporary, this marvelous timepiece inspired by one of the most iconic models in watchmaking history is worn on a black alligator strap, fastened to the wrist by a pink-gold triple folding clasp.

 

Concluding thoughts

As with the many before us, we find that the three bridges design is one of the most iconic of our time. For its price tag of CHF 180,000 or approximately USD 200,000, the Girard Perregaux Esmeralda Tourbillon is competitively priced. However, there are also plenty of options for a tourbillon at this price range. For instance, the Lange 1815 tourbillon, which comes in at USD 160,000 for pink gold. Objectively, it is difficult to do a just compare and contrast of the different tourbillon watches, but as a matter of preference, we find that the GP maybe leaning on the side of overt luxury. The size of the watch, the flashiness of the gold studded dial, and at times excessive decorations, like the words on the barrel wheel is definitely not features that one looks for in subtle luxury.

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