Girard-Perregaux is a well known name in the world of horology, and have produced some iconic pieces such as the Tourbillon with Three Golden Bridges, the classic 1966 and Laureato series. They recently updated their collection with the new Laureato in SIHH 2017, but also revealed a new design which they call the Neo-Bridges.
Despite perhaps being comparatively low key compared to household names like Patek Philippe, Rolex and Omega, GP has some clout in watchmaking heritage, having been founded in 1791. This makes it the youngest child of the 3 oldest Swiss brands, younger than Vacheron Constantin which was founded in 1755, and Breguet which was founded in 1775.
At first glance, the Neo-Bridges is a modern artistic take on a skeletonised dial. Upon closer inspection, though, many intricate details reveal themselves.
Case, Dial and Hands
The case is a constructed from lightweight titanium, measuring 45mm across and sitting 12.2mm tall. One will realise quite immediately upon picking this piece up, that the Neo-Bridges is quite very light for its size. This is undoubtedly thanks to the titanium case, but this writer has handled titanium-cased watches that seemed to weigh almost double of the Neo-Bridges.
The case does retain that grey allure that accompanies titanium and is given a brushed texture. Paired with the dial, the case works well as a perfect match for the overall aesthetic and adds to the charm rather than stand out on its own. As with most pieces with a 45mm case, the first concern that springs to mind is the wearability. Girard-Perregaux have anticipated this and incorporated short lugs into the Neo-Bridges, making the lug-to-lug length barely any longer than the actual case size. This is an important consideration that can make large watches wear small and vice versa. On the case alone, the Neo-Bridges has scored a tick in our books.
Moving on to the dial, or the lack of it, one is greeted by a seeming jumble of elements. As previously mentioned, only on closer inspection does one truly notice the thoughtfully placed components of the movement. The micro oscillating weight at 10 o’clock is balanced out by the similarly finished barrel at 2 o’clock.The circular trinity is completed by the large 10.15mm balance wheel at 6 o’clock whirring away at 21,600 bph. Each of these components is fastened down to the movement with the namesake bridges. The layout is reminiscent of the ones used in their Three Bridges Tourbillons, but with a modern, almost avant garde aesthetic.
An alternative interpretation would be to view the bridges as “seat belts” or “rims” bolstering each “wheel” onto the movement. These bring angularity to counter the roundness of the case and the “wheels”, and are executed to symmetrical perfection.
And yet, so far all that has been described is the top-down, 2D impression of the dial. A good 3mm of the height of the watch is due to the AR-coated box-type crystal. One would do well to admire the dial from various angles to fully appreciate the layered texture that the various elements bring to the table.
Think of it as viewing a building: the aerial view varies greatly from the view on the ground, as does viewing it from different angles on the same plane. Perhaps this analogy does not fall on its face, as the designer Stephano Macaluso is indeed an architect by training. The rest of the unadorned dial has been given a sandblasted finish which adds ever more texture. Yet another tick in our books for the attention to detail on the dial.
The two hands and hour markers have each been de-emphasised without compromising legibility. The former is hollowed out and the latter is pushed to the extreme periphery of the dial atop a ring. All this, one imagines, to maximally draw the beholder’s eyes to the artistry of the dial. And how! The dial truly is the crux of this watch. The overall impression is that of an intricate 3D puzzle with a lovely geometric layout that amazes the more one analyzes it.
Powering the gentle giant is an automatic winding movement, named the GP08400. One wouldn’t know that is an automatic by looking through the sapphire caseback. The rotor is visible on the front, hidden in plain sight in the upper dial.
The view of the caseback through the sapphire glass shows a full length movement bridge peppered with rubies, finished with traditional Côtes de Genève. It reveals only the barrel and stylized bridge for micro oscillating weight, and bears the GP logo set just off center to the right.
The movement comprises of 208 components and stores up to 50 hours of power reserve. While that may be on the lower side in the era of extended power reserves, it suffices, Furthermore, the counterclockwise winding of the crown is quite an enjoyable chore. Why is that relevant? Simply because it then makes sense to have a shorter power reserve, so that one is able to wind the watch up manually every so often!
The Neo-Bridges is not the most accessible timepiece on the market with a price point of S$35,600 for a time-only piece. And yet, for a piece with such design cues and architectural influences, it is in a realm that is shared by few others. By the virtue of that fact and the quality exhibited in this piece, the price is really quite fair.
Some pieces that spring to mind when considering the Neo-Bridges’ unique dial and bridge layout include its own sibling from the Bridges line: the illustrious Three Bridge Esmerelda Tourbillon, coming in at S$284,600. Comparing these two would be comparing apples to oranges: the Three Bridges has the added tourbillon escapement and is constructed with rose gold. In a sense, the Neo-Bridges does channel the spirit of the Three Bridges at a relatively more affordable price point.
Perhaps a possible candidate might be the Louis Moinet 20 Second Tempograph, in titanium CHF22,000 (about S$32,000), or roughly comparable in price. The Louis Moinet also feature an interesting aesthetic in the open worked dial, but comes with an interesting complication in the amusing seconds hand display which retrogrades every 20 seconds.
Another comparison might be to the Armin Strom Edge Double Barrel, which retails for S$44,695. It is encased in a black pvd stainless steel case, and also feature an open worked dial. But the Armin Strom uses a double barrel to achieve a power reserve of 8 days. The other interesting element in the Edge Double Barrel is the funky way the movement is finished, with the rather unique cross grinding of the plates.
The Neo-Bridges is a quality reimagined offering by Girard Perregaux, and should deservedly draw attention to whoever is lucky enough to pick one up. It wears extremely comfortably on this writer’s 7-inch wrist, thanks in no small part to a titanium triple folding buckle that locked down most securely and snugly. It definitely lends itself to any occasion and offers a good bang for buck when considering the competitive landscape.
Girard-Perregaux Neo-Bridges Technical Specifications
Diameter: 45.00 mm
Height: 12.18 mm
Glass: sapphire anti-reflective
Case-back: sapphire crystal
Dial: no dial, ring with suspended indexes
Hands: skeleton with luminescent material
Water resistance: 30 meters (3 ATM)
Reference: GP08400-0001, mechanical with automatic winding
Diameter: 32.00 mm (14¼ ligne)
Height: 5.45 mm
Frequency: 21,600 bph – (3 Hz)
Number of components: 208
Power reserve: min. 48 hours
Functions: hours, minutes
Material: dark-grey alligator with stitching
Buckle: titanium triple folding buckle