The first offering from Aston Martin’s recently announced collaboration with Girard-Perregaux was revealed this week: the Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges — Aston Martin Edition.
Switzerland’s Girard-Perregaux is one of the oldest watchmakers in the world, responsible for more than 100 patents. Established in 1791, it is most renowned for the 1867 Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges, which deliberately made three functional components visible for the first time rather than hiding them, making it a precursor to modern-day skeleton watches, where the mechanics are not hidden from view.
The timepiece’s 44-millimeter case is made of Grade 5 titanium, the most commonly used titanium alloy, one discovered in Great Britain by English clergyman, William Gregor in 1791, the year that Girard-Perregaux was established.
While titanium is increasingly used for automotive components, its advantages make it the perfect metal for watchmakers. It delives a high strength-to-weight ratio with impressive corrosion resistance while also being able to withstand temperatures of nearly 800-degrees Fahrenheit.
But before we get to what makes this watch special, a little background is in order.
The mainplate is the foundation of a watch’s movement. Within the movement is the escapement, a mechanical linkage that advances a timepiece’s hands. Girard-Perregaux’s watch is a tourbillion, French for “whirlwind,” which is an escapement housed in a rotating cage designed to counteract gravity when the watch is in different positions.
This was thought to increase accuracy during a time when everyone wore a pocket watch, which spent most of its time resting vertically or horizontally in a person’s pocket. But given that a wristwatch is constantly moving as it’s worn on a person’s wrist, the tourbillion is no longer required for accuracy.
Nevertheless, watchmakers have long been masters of selling outmoded technology as the consummate luxury item, and tourbillions are common on the world’s costliest timepieces.
Aston Martin’s tourbillion
The titanium used for this new watch is suffused with carbon, framing the sapphire crystal that reveals the watch’s three bridges – a Girard-Perregaux signature.
“With the Three Gold Bridges in 1867, it transformed three functional elements into attractive aesthetic features and demonstrated an approach that we continue to employ today,” said Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Girard-Perregaux. “Rarely do we work with others to reinterpret the Three Bridges, however, on this occasion, we have made an exception, mindful of Aston Martin’s prowess for design.”
The tourbillion’s design possesses an architectural feel, with the hours forming a border on the inside edge of the case, while the company’s co-branding etched in the automatic movement, which has a 60-hour reserve at 21,600 beats per hour. The movement is made in-house by Girard-Perregaux.
The skeleton movement’s mainplate disappears, giving the illusion that the movement is levitating within the case. The tourbillion’s cage is derived from a design the jeweler has used since the 19th century, while the movement’s micro-rotor is placed beneath the watch’s barrel, allowing for an unobstructed view of the movement.
Such heritage aligns with Aston Martin’s design philosophy, one that has the automaker using a grille design that debuted with the 1957 Aston Martin DB III.
“At Girard-Perregaux we share a similar philosophy,” Pruniaux said.
“The greatest of the challenges we faced with the design of this new timepiece were those of scale,” said Marek Reichman, Aston Martin executive vice president and chief creative officer. But he added, “good design is good design, whether it is a watch or a car, the principles remain the same.”
Eighteen watches will be made at a retail price of $146,000. For more information, visit the brand’s website.
This is the first timepiece collaboration between Aston Martin and Girard-Perregaux; Previously, Aston Martin collaborated with Tag Hauer to produce the Carrera Calibre Heuer 01.