INTRODUCING: The Girard-Perregaux Infinity Editions show their dark side at Geneva Watch DaysThor Svaboe
Girard-Perregaux is not holding back at the Geneva Watch Days, launching their complete but limited Infinity Editions, a tempting collection set around the dark opulent theme of gold, polished black onyx and titanium. At first, it seems an incongruous marriage of past and future: the rarely seen deep gloss black of onyx associated with jewellery and Rolex dials of the ’70s, paired with what is still considered, in our traditional halls of Haute Horlogerie, futuristic titanium. Unusually and fascinatingly, Girard-Perregaux has darkened both limited editions of existing references and debuts their Free Bridge model. Join us as we visit the dark side of a traditional maison, where the darkness of the Girard-Perregaux Infinity Editions symbolises the depth and infinite mysteries of the universe.
Cosmos Infinity Edition
The mesmerising movement of two rotating globes in solid onyx, each one hand-painted in lacquer, mixed with gold dust by a micropainting technique involving a one-haired brush. What more can we say to hold your attention? This Infinity Edition of the Cosmos is dark of visage within a case of grade 5 titanium, with these two remarkable dark globes of craftsmanship stealing the show in a big way, yet there is an infinite amount of detail to fix your gaze upon. This reference from 2019 has been darkly reimagined for the Infinity series, the recognisable Girard-Perregaux “Neo Bridges” being, as always, a prominent marker for their Haute Horlogerie pieces, this time brushed black in grade 5 titanium, emphasising the exquisite polished details of the tourbillon below in its lyre-shaped frame.
A black radially brushed sub-dial at 12 gives you the display of time with a recessed black centre and perfectly rendered applied rose gold indices; the four main quadrants of our day clearly marked out by Arabic numerals. The hands are small sporty chunks with a helpful application of Super-LumiNova, and there’s a delicate minute track in white. But, let’s face it, how can you pull your gaze away from the globes, framed within the black onyx background in striated steel frames, with celestial markings on one and a world map on the other delicately hand-painted in gold dust-infused lacquer. The celestial globe rotates to sidereal time, meaning a full 360 degrees in 23 hours 56 minutes, the rotation time of a celestial object. Whereas the globe picturing the Earth rotates to terrestrial time, meaning 360 degrees in our expected 24 hours.
The classic impactful pairing of rose gold and black is also seen in the applied GP logo at 10, and the small detail of the last four stitches on each alligator strap piece being golden. All winding and setting of the time, including the 24-hour terrestrial globe and the celestial one, is done from the rear of the Cosmos, should you manage to tear your gaze away from the front. The hand-finished Girard-Perregaux Calibre GP09320-1440 is a delightful sight throughout the skeletonised Cosmos, with the haute horlogerie hand-finishing and bevelling expected from this halo reference for GP. The frontal view is unimpeded through the use of a heavily domed large sapphire box crystal. The Cosmos Infinity Edition is available in eight pieces, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some have already been spoken for, after the first day of GWD.
Cosmos Infinity Edition is available from selected Girard-Perregaux retailers from September 2020.
Laureato Infinity Edition
One of the quintessential integrated sports models since its resurrection in 2017, the Laureato in 38 and 42mm in steel have both got the touch of infinite darkness and gold. This is a model limited to the dealerships of Wempe, before opening to the general buying public, with a deep lustrous onyx polished dial and steel hour and minutes.
The pièce de résistance is the polished rosè gold applied indices: GP logo at 12 and a gold seconds hand. The work involved in the onyx dial involves around 12 hours, underlining why it’s not an everyday dial material in this thin guise, being both difficult and fragile. But this still leaves me with a desire for more.
These Laureatos will be surefire winners, with the play of light clearly visible in the short presentation by Girard-Perregaux, even through the disrupted feed of a live stream I caught on Instagram. The fact that the regular Clous de Paris dial is replaced by this glowing black void makes the already sleek and svelte design of the Laureato even more tempting as an elegant dressier alternative in this hard-fought market.
The octagonal and circle surrounding the onyx is smooth, with the softer lines and superb brushing of the curvy case working in perfect symbiosis with the H-link bracelet of a delicate taper. It comes in the popular 42mm size, and a spectacular 38mm in steel with a diamond-set bezel, something I’m being strangely drawn to.
Free Bridge and Free Bridge Infinity Edition
Here we have not only the delicate pairing of onyx and gold, but a brand new reference for Girard-Perregaux in the Free Bridge model, aimed squarely at a more accessible price point for the two most exciting features of Girard-Perregaux’s top references: skeletonisation and that famous arrow-shaped historical balance bridge. The Free Bridge is housed in a sporty thick lugged steel case, with a bezel-less design making the most of the fascinating shape-play within the open dial and part skeletonised movement. The look is one of classical craftsmanship framed within a hi-tech diorama, working as a moving showcase for the artisanal skills of the maison.
The eyes are drawn towards the centre through a fascinating mix of smooth, bevelled PVD-treated titanium, heavily striated black, smooth grey and a chunky faceted bridge holding the central hour and minute hands. All key rotating points for the gears and balance of the centrally focused movement is annotated by the exposed purple jewels making up a veritable theatre of time. The lack of a bezel as such makes the most of the mechanical life within, and will make the piece wear larger than its 44mm suggests, but this is not something you would want to stay discreetly hidden. Girard-Perregaux underlines the futurism of the design by having created a new language for the hands and indices, a sharp combination of scalloped details, proportions and a sporty intent, with a healthy dose of Super-LumiNova and polished details making for good legibility even at night. Actually, this is probably the best time to view the watch, as your eyes are not constantly asked to examine another openworked detail. The minute track is on a sapphire rim with sporty thick indices clearly marking the hours.
The forward-thinking image of the Free Bridge is underlined by the in-house calibre GP01800-1170, which has been thoroughly re-worked with a part silicon balance wheel and escapement, and features Côtes de Genève, snailing, bevelling and sandblasting. All delightfully visible through the rotor with an 18k pink gold oscillating weight. At less than €20,000, this is a superb entry ticket to the magical world of openworked haute horlogerie.
The Free Bridge also comes in an Infinity edition making the most of the openworked magic, while injecting a solid dose of darkness and a sprinkling of gold. Eighty-eight pieces of this will be available, and makes the most of the new-found marriage of darkness and opulence. The Girard-Perregaux bridge takes centre stage across the dial in solid pink gold, which also endows the new handset and chunky indices. Onyx pieces, hand-polished to a glassy shine, frame the visible parts of the movement, becoming even more prominent as a brilliant contrast to the black and gold.
Girard-Perregaux Classics, the 1966 and Vintage 1945 Infinity Editions
Girard-Perregaux has also given the touch of darkness to a limited edition of their sharp rectangular Vintage 1945 and Vintage 1966, with the tagline “Onyx is the new Black”.
The Vintage 1945, a solid seller for Girard-Perregaux, is available in 88 pieces with the touch of black and pink gold, while the 1966 in 30mm and 40mm are available in 188 pieces each, where the new materiality underlines a simple and classic dress watch by sharpening it up for 2020.