Still one of the most notable escapements on the market despite being a decade old, Girard-Perregaux’s double-wheel-and-silicon invention has been refined and revived as the Neo Constant Escapement.
Presented in titanium, the Neo Constant Escapement is the regular production version of the unique piece in pink gold made for Only Watch 2023. The calibre within is a revamped version of the 2013 original that retains the double escape wheels and integral constant-force silicon spring, but reworked for superior function.
Technically impressive as it was, the original Constant Escapement (CE) from 2013 was huge (the case was 48 mm, making size one of its biggest weakness) and expensive at the time. That explains in part why the CE never caught on despite its merits.
The revamp of the watch ten years old has substantially improved both its function and form. The Neo Constant Escapement (NCE) is both more wearable and more appealing in terms of design. Besides being more compact, the “Neo” case also has a highly domed crystal that shows off the escapement well.
Even though the watch has been redesigned, the NCE retains the hyper-modern, open-worked styling of the original. The look certainly suits the inventive nature of the silicon escapement, though it would have been interesting if GP experimented with a classical design, which might have been ironic but attractive for the contrasting ideas.
Equally important is the fact that the retail price remains about the same in nominal terms at US$100,000, making the NCE a more reasonable proposition, particularly against the substantial price inflation in luxury watchmaking overall.
An ingenious invention
Conceived by Nicolas Déhon ,then a constructor at Rolex, who was inspired by the flexing of a name card, the Constant Escapement dates to 1997 but only became feasible with the advent of silicon in watchmaking, which led to the first prototype in 2008 after Mr Déhon joined GP.
This was followed by the serial production model in 2013 that made headlines when it was launched but never gained much traction. With last month’s announcement of the unique piece created for Only Watch, it became public that a new CE was in the works.
The NCE preserves the design language of the original and has an open-worked dial with two large barrels and the escapement below. But it incorporates several new elements that either echo GP’s current house style (like the arched “Neo” bridges for the escapement) or improve functionality, most obviously with the central hands that replace the small time sub-dial of the original.
And the case has been scaled down to 45 mm, still large but eminently more wearable compared to the 48 mm original. The NCE is slightly thicker due to the now centrally positioned hands, but the increase is a modest 0.4 mm.
But the fundamental proposition of the NCE is the movement, which is neatly summed up in our earlier story: “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 movement has been redesigned to include several upgrades, including a reshaped rocker that links the two escape wheels. At the same time, the rocker now has a locking mechanism, which also enhances its reliability.
Key facts and price
Girard-Perregaux Neo Constant Escapement
Diameter: 45 mm
Height: 14.8 mm
Water resistance: 30 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and power reserve display
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: Seven days
Strap: Rubber strap with folding clasp
Limited edition: No
Availability: At GP retailers and boutiques
For more information, visit Girard-perregaux.com.
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