Baselworld 2013 preview…
At week-before-last’s NYC Timecrafters show, the folks from Girard-Perregaux (based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland) lifted the lid on a spectacular piece of haute horlogerie — a black DLC-finished titanium bi-axial tourbillon, limited to just 8 pieces. The original Girard-Perregaux Bi-Axial Tourbillon (I believe) debuted in 2008 in rose gold case with rose gold bridges; it was subsequently released in a white gold case with rose gold bridges — both pictured below. Both are elegant pieces, but nothing quite like this, for sure. An “all black” watch with such class! A great balance of tradition (respecting the traditional and iconic “tourbillon with three gold bridges”) and a bit of the avant-garde (black titanium DLC case). More looks, and video, below…
The watch is graceful, both front and back. For purposes of comparison, here are the two previous Girard-Perregaux Bi-Axial Tourbillons, released in 2008 and 2010 — limited to just 33 pieces each (more on the white gold mode here):
As you can see, the color contrast is simply wonderful — and a bit more avant-garde than its predecessors. The black DLC-coated titanium case sits quietly in the background while the brushed-finish 18k white gold bridges and bi-axial tourbillon take role as stars of the show. If you only see two bridges, look again and note that the third bridge sits at the front of the tourbillon assembly (and thus is always in motion).
On the back side, note not only the sweeping curves of the movement plates, but also the screws which attach the sapphire-crystal caseback to the case. A subtle, but appropriate and complementary touch.
Upon closer inspection, you can see that the dial has a nice circular grained texture to it. Again, notice the contrast against the brushed finished bridges. Also note the circular brushed finish of the barrel cover along with GP logo and flowery pattern. And of course the tourbillon…
The manual-wind caliber in this watch is known as the Girard-Perregaux GPE0201. The bi-axial Tourbillon combines two concentric cages that enable the regulating part to make multi-axis rotations. This complex construction adds a multidimensional aspect to the intended function of the tourbillon, which is to compensate for rate irregularities due to the Earth’s gravity.
The internal cage bearing the balance wheel, balance spring and escapement completes one full turn on its axis in forty-five seconds. The external cage completes one revolution in one minute and fifteen seconds, enabling a rotation on its second axis. Hence a complete rotation 3 minutes, 45 seconds. You can see this “bi-axial” action in this short video (sorry for low-res quality):
The two cages weigh just 0.80 grams, yet comprise a total of over one hundred and ten components. Variable inertia balance fitted with gold adjustment screws. Balance spring: Phillips curve; Geneva Stud; Jewels: 28; 18k gold barrel bridges and central bridge; Power reserve: min. 72 hours, two coaxial barrels
Limited to just 8 pieces with a price that will reach into the several hundred thousands, this is an absolutely exquisite timepiece representing the best of fine watchmaking. Wish I could have seen this one in the metal. Well done, Girard-Perregaux.