Although younger generations will associate Girard-Perregaux with the Laureato luxury sports watch collection, this brand has a historic watch up its sleeve with a colourful history. Known as La Esmeralda, this famous award-winning tourbillon chronometer pocket watch with three gold bridges was based on a model built by Constant Girard in 1860. Following the special pink gold edition launched in 2021 to celebrate the brand’s 230th anniversary, La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition returns in a white hand-engraved gold case with a secret hinged cover on the caseback and a guilloché Grand Feu enamel dial. Girard-Perregaux will unveil the white gold limited edition during the 2023 Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (20-25 February).
Watchmaker Constant Girard (1825-1903) and his wife, Marie Perregaux, founded Girard-Perregaux in 1856. Fascinated with the design of escapements, especially tourbillons, Constant Girard decided that the three parallel bridges in the form of arrows securing his tourbillon movement could become part of the design language of the watch, which he patented in 1884. Housed in an elaborately engraved gold case with a white Grand Feu enamel dial and a hinged dust cover engraved with three horses, La Esmeralda was submitted to the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889 and won a gold medal. In a strange turn of events, La Esmeralda ended up in Mexico and was sold to Porfirio Díaz, the Mexican general who served seven consecutive turns as president of Mexico and was finally ousted in 1911 during the Mexican Revolution. A descendant of Díaz sold La Esmeralda to Girard-Perregaux in 1970.
La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition is one of Girard-Perregaux’s most illustrious and expensive models. Naturally, there are more contemporary interpretations of the tourbillon in the Bridges collection, like this spectacular tourbillon model, all characterised by the three bridges theme laid down by their venerable ancestor. This white gold version of the La Esmeralda Tourbillon is identical to the 230th-anniversary edition and comes in a lavishly hand-engraved 43mm case with a height of 15.1mm. The leaf motifs engraved on the bezel, caseband, lugs and buckle are hand-engraved by GP’s in-house artisans in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The spectacular guilloché dial with royal blue Grand Feu enamel hosts the hallmark gold arrow-shaped bridges with a surprising twist. The bridge over the top barrel and the bridge spanning the tourbillon features two hand-engraved white gold horses that reference the horses found on the caseback of the original La Esmeralda. As you would expect from such a high-end model, the bridges feature mirror-polished finishings.
Beneath the bridges is a recessed figure eight, home to the barrel at noon, the centre wheel and the lyre-shaped tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock, which weighs just 0.3g. The faceted white gold Dauphine-style hour and minute hands are complemented by a blued steel hand on the tourbillon to indicate the small seconds.
On the reverse side, the ‘secret’ hinged caseback is decorated with guilloché, and the white gold silhouettes of three horses are filled with blue enamel. With its fluted bezel, the caseback opens to reveal the in-house automatic GP09600-2083 movement with a white gold micro-rotor. Beating at 21,600vph, the movement delivers a minimum power reserve of 50 hours when fully wound.