A regular participant at Only Watch, Girard-Perregaux’s latest contribution to the charity auction, the Neo Constant Escapement Only Watch 2023, revisits its innovation constant-force escapement. Girard-Perregaux (GP) first unveiled the Constant Escapement in 2013 as a wristwatch with a unique, dual-wheel escapement with an integral constant-force silicon buckling spring. Ten years on, the Neo Constant Escapement is a revamp of the original concept with incremental upgrades to the mechanism.
The Neo Constant Escapement (NCE) is not merely a rehash of the original. It is a technical evolution, which is at the very minimum an academically interesting take on an already exotic escapement. The Only Watch edition is dressed in predominantly monochromatic livery with a pink gold case and movement bridges – even the mainspring barrels are pink gold. The generous use of pink gold might be polarising, which arguably makes it perfectly suited as a one-off piece that will inevitably find an eager buyer at the auction.
In the grander scheme of things however, the NCE Only Watch edition marks the beginning of GP reviving the Constant Escapement. Even by today’s standards of advanced tech in watchmaking, the Constant Escapement is an integrated design comprised of a double-wheel escapement with a remontoir spring, making it an escapement unlike any other. It is admirable that the escapement has been updated for better reliability, while preserving its original identity.
The overall presentation of the NCE Only Watch edition is monochromatic, with a pink gold case and matching pink gold bridges. This is subtly contrasted with a little colour – black nickel plating for the hands and indices to make them legible, while the silicon blade spring and movement jewels are purple.
The colour scheme thus make most of the dial elements stand out less, in contrast to the open-worked escapement located at six o’clock. For instance, subtly integrated into the movement bridge at nine o’clock is a linear power reserve indicator – a complication present since the overall design, but can easily be missed in this iteration.
While the original design was massive at 48 mm diameter, the NCE has a 45 mm case which is still wide, but unavoidable due to the space taken up by the escapement. Meanwhile, the overall thickness has instead increased to 14.8 mm – an addition of 0.4 mm over the original, due to the three watch hands being coaxially stacked at the centre of the dial.
Of course, the highlight of the NCE is in the name – the modernised version of the Constant Escapement, first developed over a decade ago as the brainchild of the watchmaker, Nicolas Déhon.
Revived in the new movement, the NCE exhibits an overall similar movement architecture to the outgoing model. Fundamentally, it is a double-wheel escapement which has a built-in silicon blade spring that acts as a remontoir on every beat, supplying a constant force directly to the balance wheel for stable amplitude. The design is tightly integrated, and thus the double-wheel mechanism would not work independently without the silicon blade spring, and vice versa.
The new design of the NCE presents some upgrades from the original design. Most notably, it exhibits a modified arming rocker design that interacts with two escape wheels. Additionally, it has a locking mechanism of the arming rocker via the central lever, providing overall better reliability of the escapement.
Only Watch 2023 takes place on November 5, 2023 at Palexpo in Geneva.
Key facts and price
Girard-Perregaux Neo Constant Escapement “Only Watch”
Diameter: 45 mm
Height: 14.8 mm
Material: Pink gold
Water resistance: 30 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve
Frequency: 3 Hz
Power reserve: 56 hours
Strap: Rubber strap with folding clasp
Limited edition: Piece unique
Availability: To be sold at Only Watch on November 5, 2023
Estimate: CHF140,000 – 220,000
For more information, visit Onlywatch.com.
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