Girard-Perregaux is a force in the world of haute horlogerie. The brand tested the newest materials in Laureato Black Ceramic, displayed its heritage with a modern twist in the Neo-Bridges, and experimented with the tourbillon in the Laureato Flying Tourbillon Skeleton and in the Tri-Axial Planetarium. As a tip of the cap to the minute repeater, Girard-Perregaux offered an exceptional piece in 2015, the Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges. In today’s review, we discover the latest high horological complication of the brand – the Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon. In this watch, Girard-Perregaux showcases all of its expansive expertise, rich heritage and modern materials.
Review: Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon
Constant Girard-Perregaux presented at the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition the Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges. A famous piece as modern and iconic as the Eiffel Tower, it was, is and will be a technological marvel for the ages. One, as the most important designs from Girard-Perregaux, the other as the most recognizable mark of Paris, France.
Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon is a worthy descendant of the 1889 piece. Ultra-modern materials, innovative design and a powerful brand trademark – elements that made this piece one of the author’s top picks from SIHH2018.
The case, dial and hands
The Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon is a powerful, masculine statement. Its design is a combination of classic haute horlogerie with ultra-modern characteristics. At the first look, the watch strikes with a classic appearance, only to reveal, at a closer inspection, a series of bold, almost audacious elements.
The case is machined from grade five titanium to a round 48mm diameter shape. The case size and materiasl were chosen especially to maximise the acoustic sound expansion of the minute repeater. The inner side of the case was precisely machined to achieve optimum connection between mainplate and the case, again for efficient sound propagation.
The case construction is interesting. Starting with a box-type, deep domed crystal case on top and finishing with another box crystal on the caseback, the movement can be appreciated in its full glory and splendour. The tall bezel is given a coarser brushed finish. The case’s body is also brushed, but with a finer, satin-like stroke. This can be also found on the stiff curved lugs although the front of the lugs is mirror polished. This treatment is present on the back as well.
The caseback bears engravings of brand’s name, reference number and piece number. An appealing feature is the caseback mounting: four horns continue up to the lugs, fixing the back with four screws. This detail increases the attractiveness of the back, keeping the caseback “clean”. A downside for this mounting choice could be the reduced water resistance, up to 30 meters or 3atm, caused by the long distance between the screws.
The satin-finished crown is simple with the embossed initials GP. There are no other distracting elements. The setting is effortless as the crown offers excellent grip for winding. The minute repeater lever is precisely machined, offering a clean look. No free space, no free movement but with a good grip and a facile arming.
The watch has a nice wrist feel. The titanium makes it light enough to wear small, much smaller than expected from a 48mm diameter. The curved lugs make the Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon look good on both smaller and larger wrist sizes.
The watch face and movement are skeletonized. The appearance is very technical but extraordinarily beautiful. Overall interesting details and intricate finishes.
The dial has a central element of two subdials. One is for the minutes with a sapphire disk printed with minutes track and roman numerals for 15, 30 and 60 minutes. The second one placed symmetrically opposite the first, and is decorated with hour indexes, a printed brand name and a gold applied logo. The subdials are fixed with metallic armature on a central bridge bearing the iconic bridge shape that GP has come to be known for..
The gold dauphine hands are skeletonized as well. The shape and proportion of the minute and hour’s hands are similar to the ones used in the Golden Bridge watches. During the hands-on, we observed that the legibility is affected in some moments by the amount of light and angle. This shortcoming is compensated for by the minute repeater complication.
The rest of the dial is occupied by the striking mechanism at 12 o’clock and the tri-axial tourbillon at 6 o’clock. Most of the elements are adorned with a fine brushing, whether horizontal or satin, with excellent chamfering. Regardless the roundness and the acute-angles, the beveling is precise, pedantic almost.
A difference can be seen on the hammers that have the top polished and the black PVD central GP bridge.
The movement GP09560-0001
The Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon watch is powered by the astounding GP09560-0001 calibre. An important characteristic of the movement is the striking mechanism placed on top. This layout removes part of the disadvantages of the back traditionally placed repeaters like the wrist sound absorption.
The Tri-Axial Tourbillon is truly a piece of high complications. The 140 part-tourbillon weighing 1.24 grams in its carriage moves on three different axes at varying speeds. The first axis needs two minutes for a full rotation. The second axis performs a rotation in one minute and the third one in 30 seconds. The setup outcomes, in theory, all the negative effects of the gravity. Even if the complication improves little in a wristwatch, compared with a fixed positioned pocket watch, the tri-axial tourbillon is a magical, hypnotic mechanical beauty.
The calibre GP09560-0001 attempts a charming symmetry. The black PVD bridges make a nice contrast with the rest of the movement. The front of the main plate is adorned with a delicate perlage while the back is satin brushed.
As one might expect, the calibre is highly complicated, featuring 518 parts, only for the regulating organ a number of 140 components are used. The balance wheel has a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour or 3 Hz, the movement offering an impressive 60 hours of power reserve.
The Competitive Landscape
The Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon is a highly complicated piece with exceptional finishes. While it is not the only piece of the market bearing this combination of repeater/tourbillon complication, finding another watch with the triple axis tourbillon and repeater is impossible. We are not aware of any.
The closest in our mind the Jacob & Co Twin Turbo. The Jacob & Co features two triple axis tourbillon with a minute repeater. The Jacob & Co is remarkable in its complication and packs a wallop for the price. The asking price of CHF 360,000, while not a small amount of money, is rather reasonable in exchange for the exclusivity and the complication packaged together. Only the aesthetics of the watch, while not unattractive, may not be the classicist’s cup, as it is rather a strong design with bold elements, in line with the persona of Jacob.
Apart from the Jacob, we are not aware of any other triple axis tourbillons with repeaters.
Girard-Perregaux keeps to its values on the Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon watch. An excellent execution, using modern material and processes like titanium and black PVD, an interesting and unusual top placed striking mechanism and a pure horological beauty makes GP’s 2018 most complicated piece an object of desire. The classical Girard-Perregaux design elements make the wristwatch easily recognisable without being flashy.
The mesmerising tourbillon is captivating not only because of the graceful movement but also from the stunning finishes of its bridges and cage.
The sound of the minute repeater is interesting. While the sound is not the most powerful we ever hear and recorded, it is clean and beautiful. The wrist behaviour is pleasant, wearing smaller as expected. The curved lugs and the light titanium contribute fully to this feeling.
Concluding this review with a fixed idea: a truly amazing watch.
Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon Specification and Price
Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon Reference 99830-21-000-BA6A has a price of CHF425,000 (incl. VAT) or US$420,000.
Type: Mechanical with manual winding
Dimension: Ø 7.50mm (16,1/2 ‘’’), 17.32mm height
Number of components: 518
Frequency: 21.600vph / 3Hz
Power Reserve: 60 hours
Functions: Tri-axial tourbillon, minute repeater, hours, minutes; Triple-axis tourbillon; Tourbillon cage made of 140 components with a weight of 1.24 g.
Dimensions of the case: Ø 48mm, 21.30mm height
Crystal: Sapphire anti-reflective ‘box’
Case-back: Sapphire crystal ‘box’
Water resistance: 30meters, 3atm
Dial: Counters at 9 and 3 o’clock displaying respectively the hours and minutes thanks to two sapphire rings
Hands: ‘Dauphine’ type, skeletonized
Material: Hand-stitched black alligator
Buckle: Titanium triple folding buckle