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Girard-Perregaux - Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges

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There are extraordinary watches that are produced in very few examples. The goal of any watchmaker manufacturing such timepieces is not only to delight the few lucky owners but also to demonstrate technical excellence and special watchmaking skills.

This is also the case of the new Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges, a timepiece that was presented at Baselworld 2015 and will be produced in a limited edition of just 10 pieces.

While evidently linked to watchmaking traditions, this watch is very innovative at the same time. In fact, the mechanical structure of this Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges has been completely rethought in order to offer the possibility to simultaneously observe on the dial side both the components of the striking-mechanism and the hammers that produce its sound by striking the wires of the gongs.

This positioning of the components is not only extremely fascinating from a visual point of view but it also facilitates optimum sound transmission when the watch is on the wrist.

To achieve such a result, the watchmakers were obliged to re-design not only the entire manual calibre, but also its method of construction and operation.

The minute repetition is activated by sliding a bolt traditionally placed at 8 o'clock on the left-hand side of the case-band. Sliding this trigger-piece rewinds the spring contained in the minute repeater barrel.  Once the maximum limit has been attained, this minute repeater winding mechanism releases the "on-off" control to prevent the striking-mechanism from starting if the winding of the trigger is not fully completed, thus preventing an incorrect acoustic indication of the time.

The observer can follow the triggering operations and then watch the hammers striking the gongs, first the hours (in a low tone), then the quarter-hours (in a combination of high and low tones), and finally the minutes (in a high tone).

The only components of the minute repetition mechanism one that is not visible to the eye is the flywheel - the organ which regulates the hammers' striking speed - which operates on the case-back side so as to limit any sound emissions.

The relationship between the size of the case (45 mm) and that of the calibre (32 mm x 9.35 mm) has been studied so as to offer the best possible volumetric arrangement, as in the case of musical string instruments. Even the sapphire crystal case-back has been crafted to give it the delicate curvature found in the majority of musical instruments equipped with a sounding-box, and the aim of which is to maximise the volume in which the sound can reverberate.

To increase the speed of the hammers and consequently their striking impact, they are each mounted on a pair of jewels acting as ball-bearings so as to reduce friction.

To house the movement, Girard-Perregaux has chosen a round case with an inclined bezel and a domed case-band prolonged by the slender lugs that are characteristic of models in the Haute Horlogerie collections. The hand-wound Calibre GP09500-0002 beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour and offers a power reserve of at least 58 hours.

The arrow-shaped Gold Bridges and marking-plates makes the watch unmistakably recognizable as a Girard-Perregaux. The large tourbillon at 6 o'clock performs one rotation per minute. Its carriage has a weight of just 0.49 grams.

A black alligator strap with a pink gold triple folding clasp completes the Girard-Perregaux Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges (ref. 99820-52-000-BA6A). Price: Euro 387,500 / US$ 395,000.

Picture courtesy of Hartmut Kraft

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