Girard-Perregaux Introduces the Free Bridge

With a familiar, ultra-exotic balance wheel.

With its iconic complication being the Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges – albeit one that is somewhat forgotten today – Girard-Perregaux has created a variety of simpler watches centred on the same concept of prominent movement bridges. The newly-launched Free Bridge is the latest to join the line up, and while it is superficially similar, it boasts an exotic silicon balance wheel (that was probably created with help from its sister company).

Initial thoughts

The Free Bridge has a modern, technical-looking aesthetic that is currently popular, but it is more than a faddish watch. That’s because it’s equipped with an intricate, extra-large balance wheel made of silicon, one that is far more advanced than everything else at this price point – with the exception of the Ulysse Nardin Freak X.

Though not identical, the balance wheel is similar enough to the one in the Freak X that it becomes obvious the Free Bridge balance is derived from that in the Freak X, which is unsurprising since both watch brands are owned by luxury group Kering.

The balance wheel makes the movement special from a technical perspective, and also makes the US$17,000 price tag easier to swallow. That said, the Free Bridge seems to sit in no man’s land – it is neither entirely classical nor modern, in contrast to the Freak X which is an out and out contemporary watch. As a result, the Free Bridge isn’t particularly outstanding visually, unlike the Freak X.

Upgraded with a new balance

The Free Bridge is a large watch, with the case measuring 44 mm by 12.2 mm. A good part of the height is the domed “box” sapphire crystal, which provides a good view of the balance wheel from various angles.

The movement is the GP01800-1170, which is essentially the brand’s workhorse automatic movement reengineered to accommodate the extra-large balance wheel on the front. Not only is the balance wheel silicon, but also the escape wheel and pallet lever, features that are perhaps also borrowed from Ulysse Nardin.

Infinity Edition

The Free Bridge is also available as an Infinity Edition, the overarching theme for Girard-Perregaux’s new launches this year. The 88-piece Infinity Edition is identical mechanically, but dressed up with pink gold elements that contrast against the black-coated case.

And like the other Infinity Editions, this is decorated with polished onyx in the form of two inlaid panels of the mineral stone on each side of the barrel.

The onyx inlays are each secured by two screws

The Infinity Edition also has the bonus of a pink gold rotor


Key facts and price

Girard-Perregaux Free Bridge
Ref. 82000-11-631-FA6A
Ref. 82000-11-632-FA6A (Infinity Edition)

Diameter: 44 mm
Height: 12.2 mm
Material: Steel
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement:GP01800-1170
Features: Hours, and minutes,
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 54 hours

Strap: Alligator

Limited edition: Infinity Edition limited to 88 pieces
Availability:
 Starting October 2020
Price
16,250 Swiss francs (standard model)
19,410 Swiss francs (Infinity Edition)

For more, visit girard-perregaux.com.


 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Girard-Perregaux Introduces the Laureato Infinity Edition

With a polished onyx dial.

Humism Introduces Self-Winding, Kinetic Art Watches

Affordable timepieces featuring animated dials.

Girard-Perregaux Introduces the Laureato 42mm Black Ceramic

Handsomely monochromatic in brushed and polished ceramic.

Breguet Introduces the Tradition Quantième Retrograde 7597

Revitalised with a sweeping date.

Endowed with an unmistakable aesthetic, the Breguet Tradition is based on the souscription calibre made by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1796. Arguably the pioneer with the open-dial design that exposes the movement, the Tradition’s construction allows for creativity even with basic complications, like a retrograde seconds for instance.

The new Tradition Quantième Retrograde 7597 continues with the overarching theme of the line. Based on the Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097, the 7597 does away with the seconds display and instead installed an oversized retrograde date complication.

Initial thoughts

I find the Tradition aesthetic unique and charming, thanks to the characteristic, exposed movement construction that can seem haphazardly arranged at times. Despite the angular and geometric shapes of the bridges, most of them are trapezoidal in shape with few parallel edges, bestowing a more organic appearance to the highly mechanical appearance.

While a conventional date window is mundane, the retrograde date elevates the complication both visually and mechanically. Retrograde displays are often encountered in Breguet watches – something that started with A.-L. Breguet himself – and are typically done well, both stylistically and technically.

The Tradition 7597 is, in short, an attractively designed watch that sticks to Breguet’s tradition strengths in design and mechanics, while offering a useful complication executed in an elegant manner.

Tradition restyled

The 7597 retains the familiar Tradition look, with off-centred, engine-turned dial at 12 o’clock, powered by the mainspring at the centre of the watch. The going train for timekeeping occupies the lower half of the watch, and is fully exposed thanks to the minimal bridges.

Prominent at four o’clock, the balance wheel is a fusion of traditional and modern technology – combining both a silicon hairspring and a Breguet overcoil. Right now, Breguet is the only watchmaker offering watches equipped with such a hairspring.

Of course, the highlight of the 7597 is the retrograde date that spans the perimeter of the movement’s lower half. The date jumps one a step per day till it reaches the 31st day of the month, and then performs a full, clockwise jump back to “1”.

The scale for the date is elaborately constructed with thick, pad-printed numerals for the odd-numbered days, which are separated by applied, polished spheres as an added flourish. And the date hand is blued steel and finished with a matte, frosted surface, and bent upwards to clear the movement bridges underneath.

Since the 7597 makes use of the empty space under the off-centre time display for the date, the case retains the 40mm diameter of the 7097 it is derived from.

The case construction is classically Breguet with coin edge fluting on the case band and narrow lugs. The addition of a screw-in pusher at 10 o’clock allows for quick corrections of the date.

The reverse

With majority of the movement on the front, there is little to reveal in terms of mechanics on the back. Thus, the rear is dominated by a large, white gold rotor. Shaped like a pendulum, the rotor is modelled on the swinging weight found in 19th century pocket watches with hammer winding, a primitive form of the self-winding mechanism.

The rotor sits on what is otherwise a sparse movement plate, with the key feature being a large, geometrically complex bridge next to the crown, which holds the wheels for winding and time-setting.


Key Facts and Price

Breguet Tradition Quantième Retrograde 7597
Ref. 7597BB/G1/9WU (white gold)
Ref. 7597BR/G1/9WU (rose gold)

Diameter: 40 mm
Thickness: 12.1 mm
Material: White gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 505Q
Functions: Hours, minutes, and retrograde dates
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle

Availability: Already at boutiques and retailers
Price:
37,700 Swiss francs; or 55,500 Singapore dollars (white gold)
36,900 Swiss francs; 54,300 Singapore dollars (rose gold)

For more information, visit Breguet.com.


 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Girard-Perregaux Introduces the Laureato Infinity Edition

With a polished onyx dial.

Typically offered with a familiar guilloche dial, Girard-Perregaux’s luxury-sports watch has been facelifted with a polished, mineral stone dial. Equipped with glossy, black onyx dial featuring pink-gold hour markers, the Laureato Infinity Edition is a limited edition in two case sizes for men and women respectively.

Initial thoughts

The luxury-sports watch category is populated by many similar watches, driven by the popularity of the Gerald Genta-designed segment leaders, which are arguably the definitive sports watches with integrated bracelets and blue dials.

Few watches manage to differentiate themselves; even the standard Laureato blends in. The Laureato Infinity Edition manages to be different without trying too hard, while also being priced reasonably.

The combination isn’t imaginative but it works well. The dial is a glossy black, matched with contrasting hour markers in pink gold, and markings in powdered-silver print – a combination that is clean, classic, but also different from its peers. The only odd element of the design are the rhodium-plated hands, which are probably highly legible, but don’t match the colour of the hour markers.

Arguably the only weakness are the in-house movements. Both are robust, reliable calibres that have been around for decades, but they lack many of the upgrades found in newer movements, most notably a longer power reserve.

The standard Laureato is already a well priced watch. The Infinity Edition sticks to that formula and costs only 660 francs more than the standard model, making it a no-brainer as an upgrade given the looks and material.

Solid fit and finish

Dial aside, both versions of the Laureato Infinity Edition are identical to the standard model. Slim and elegant in profile, the cases are steel with a brushed finish that’s accented with polished surfaces on the bevelled edges, links and bezel.

The smaller, 38 mm version is available only with a diamond-set bezel, making it a largish, sporty ladies’ watch.

The Laureato Infinity Edition 38 mm

Both versions are powered by in-house movements. The 42 mm model features the GP01800-1404 that has a 54-hour power reserve, while the smaller version contains the GP03300-1409 with a shorter, 46-hour power reserve.

The GP01800-1404 in the 42 mm model

The launch of the Laureato Infinity Edition also marks the start of an “exclusive distribution agreement” with Wempe in Germany. The largest watch retailer in the country, Wempe will now be the store carrying Girard-Perregaux in Germany.

As a result, the new Laureato will be available only at Wempe stores in Germany, New York, and London for two months – September and October 2020 – and subsequently at all retailers worldwide.


Key facts and price

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Infinity Edition
Ref. 81010-11-635-11A (42 mm)

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 10.7 mm
Material: Steel
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: GP01800-1404
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 54 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet

Limited edition: 188 pieces
Availability:
 Only at Wempe stores in September and October 2020, at authorised retailers worldwide after
Price: 12,260 Swiss francs


Girard-Perregaux Laureato Infinity Edition
Ref. 81005D11A631-11A (38 mm)

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 9.8 mm
Material: Steel
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: GP0330-1409
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 46 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet

Limited edition: 88 pieces
Availability: Only at Wempe stores in September and October 2020, at authorised retailers worldwide after
Price: 15,600 Swiss francs

For more, visit girard-perregaux.com.


 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Introducing the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Skeleton

The luxury sports watch gets a see-through movement.

Girard-Perregaux Introduces the Laureato 42mm Black Ceramic

Handsomely monochromatic in brushed and polished ceramic.

Girard-Perregaux Introduces the Laureato 38mm White Ceramic

The revived luxury sports watch dressed up entirely in white.

Welcome to the new Watches By SJX.

Subscribe to get the latest articles and reviews delivered to your inbox.