Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon With Three Flying Bridges: An Icon Zooms In The Partnership With Aston Martin
Earlier in 2021, Girard-Perregaux surprisingly announced a new partnership with luxury carmaker Aston Martin.
This was surprising as Aston Martin had left a 12-year relationship with Jaeger-LeCoultre to announce a partnership with Richard Mille in 2016 before quickly moving to TAG Heuer a year later without ever even releasing an RM collaborative watch.
Now Aston Martin may have finally found a new permanent horological home with Girard-Perregaux according to enthusiastic words of CEO Patrik Pruniaux and Aston Martin head of design Marek Reichman during a Zoom call.
Just months after announcing the partnership, Girard-Perregaux, celebrating its 230th anniversary in 2021, quickly released the dedicated 18-piece Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges Aston Martin edition, which was co-designed by Reichman and his team.
This timepiece is blessed with astoundingly appealing visuals, but there is also a whole heck of a lot of history behind it. Let’s dive into that first.
What are the Girard-Perregaux Bridges?
Constant Girard and his brother established the watchmaking workshop bearing their name in 1852, but only when Constant married Marie Perregaux in 1854 did the company take on the form it bears today, thanks in great part to what was known as the tourbillon with three bridges.
The bridges were the result of Constant Girard’s perpetual quest for precision and they have transformed into the symbolic element of the brand. At least one graces each of Girard-Perregaux’s modern wristwatch tourbillons – quite possibly as Constant Girard had foreseen back in 1867 when he first introduced it at the Paris Universal Exhibition, where it won a gold medal.
Constant Girard was one of the few watchmakers of the nineteenth century able to make a tourbillon, and his special trio of bridges continues to constitute the focal point of Girard-Perregaux’s tourbillon wristwatches today.
In 2014, Girard-Perregaux presented a radical modern evolution of the Three Bridges Tourbillon called the Neo-Tourbillon with Three Bridges.
While this model retains the original codes and architecture of Constant Girard’s oeuvre, major changes occurred regarding the shape and material of the bridges, the crystal, and the completely redesigned caliber. All of which endow this timepiece with a much more avant-garde spirit. At the time it was a daring step toward post-modernism; today it is probably the best-known version of the Three Bridges Tourbillon to a new generation of watch enthusiasts.
The bridges, now made of titanium instead of gold, were redesigned to accommodate a desire for extra three-dimensionality, while movement skeletonization has visually lightened the appearance of what is essentially a rather large watch. Beadblasting and coating the bridges with black PVD provides an very modern touch.
Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges Aston Martin
The newest variation of the Neo-Tourbillon came along in June 2021, just after Aston Martin announced its return to Formula 1 after a 61-year absence. The Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges Aston Martin is an 18-piece limited edition in honor of the new partnership. These two brands share some similarities that make the partnership a good fit, particularly the fact that they are both rather old brands searching for new relevance in a modern world that moves very quickly. Girard-Perregaux is 230 years old as of 2021, while Aston Martin is now aged 108 years.
“We have a common ethos, a common goal, and make collectible pieces that people will keep for their lifetimes and hand down to the next generations,” Aston Martin head of design Marek Reichman said in the interview.
In that sense, using the Neo-Tourbillon as the introductory piece was a good move. “We decided to start our partnership with the icon,” Pruniaux explained.
The Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges’ focal point is twofold: firstly, the 10 mm titanium tourbillon cage, which comprises 79 components and weighs only 0.25 gram. Its unusual shape echoes that of the Three Bridge Tourbillon’s historic lyre-shaped cage.
And secondly – and perhaps even more importantly – the bridges that take over the function of the main plate in this configuration, supporting and securing the gear train with tourbillon escapement and spring barrel. The entire construction makes the bridges appear to float in air, a visual observation underscored by the large box sapphire crystal.
It is finely hand-finished as a tourbillon cage should be, and fine finishing is extremely difficult to achieve in titanium. The variable-inertia balance has been electro-plated in black to stay consistent with the post-modern feel of the entire caliber. A barely-there blued hand on the tourbillon cage indicates seconds.
The spring barrel at 12 o’clock is partially skeletonized, while a white gold patented micro rotor on the back comfortably winds the watch while leaving the full view of the movement from the front and the back unobstructed. The words “Aston Martin” are engraved on the micro rotor and filled with white Super-LumiNova. The hands and indexes are also luminous.
The sizable case, which seems smaller on the wrist thanks to the airy feel of the extremely skeletonization, is crafted in black DLC-coated grade 5 titanium, a material selected by the Aston Martin design team.
Normally I would not mention a strap in a review of a timepiece as grand as this, but this world premiere strap really caught my attention: it comprises black calfskin with Girard-Perregaux Rubber Alloy, a rubber insert injected with white gold. The result is really beautiful. Girard-Perregaux says that the design of this strap is intended to evoke historical Aston Martin racing cars.
“We have developed an alloy mixture of rubber and a precious metal to create something that has precious content and that is typically hard to make a softer material, which is more comfortable,” Reichman enthused. “That is a real innovation highlighted by a typical stitch feature that you would find on the inside of an Aston Martin. Very unique, very innovative, very different. And using artisans to produce the material expresses the thinking between both brands that fits with the materiality of an Aston Martin.”
Reichman reported there was nothing else that crosses over like this. “In the past at Aston Martin we had developed gold weaves, gold threads. Then we started thinking about what we could do that would make this watch and its strap something unique; how could we ‘cross over?’ The impossible was a gold/rubber alloy, which is what this is, a flexible gold, if you like. We worked with local artisans to find this source of innovation.”
Aston Martin has previously used gold thread in the cars, a thread that is usable with sewing machines, but this is an entirely new and unique “alloy” made specifically for this watch’s strap.
“We got very inspired by Aston Martin,” said Pruniaux. “You can expect to see more like this in the future.”
Which is good because Reichman offered that Aston Martin intends to remain partnered with Girard-Perregaux “for a long time.”
So I asked Pruniaux if he felt the same: how long is this partnership planned for? “Loooong,” came the answer. “When you fall in love, the only thing you envision is long term,” he answered, not revealing the length of the contract.
The latest: Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges in pink gold
During Geneva Watch Days, Girard-Perregaux released an unlimited, non-Aston Martin pink gold variation of this watch in celebration of the brand’s 230th anniversary. It took my breath away with its transparency, technicity, and sheer beauty.
This watch is identical in every way to the Aston Martin edition except that the case and bridges are in 18-karat pink gold, there are no traces of Aston Martin branding, and the straps are different. This variation comes with a black alligator skin strap with rubber effect and a black alligator skin strap with gold effect, as well as a pink gold triple folding deployant clasp.
This watch marks the first time that the Neo Bridges have been crafted in pink gold. They are partially coated with black PVD with only the expertly chamfered edges exposing the original pink gold color, an excellent detail that I very much appreciate. Girard-Perregaux relates that one finishing expert needs an entire day to bevel and chamfer a set of bridges for one watch.
I think this is a more attractive variation, certainly due to the pink gold replacing the black, which makes the watch seem even lighter in a visual sense.
No matter which variation you prefer, keep your eye on this partnership. I’m sure that more good things will be coming out of it.
Quick Facts Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges Aston Martin
Case: 44 x 15.52 mm, DLC-coated grade 5 titanium
Movement: automatic Caliber GP9400-1683 with one-minute tourbillon and titanium bridges; 60-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on tourbillon cage)
Limitation: 18 pieces
Price: $146,000 / 139,000 Swiss francs
Remark: delivered with two straps
Quick Facts Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges
Case: 44 x 15.52 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber GP9400-1273 with one-minute tourbillon and PVD-coated pink gold bridges; 60-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on tourbillon cage)
Price: 138,300 Swiss francs
Remark: delivered with two straps