Girard-Perregaux Introduces the Free Bridge Meteorite

The time-only "Bridge" in fancy dress.

Girard-Perregaux (GP) is dressing up its entry-level “bridge” model with meteorite panels that flank the visible barrel and going train. The Girard-Perregaux Free Bridge Meteorite retains the model’s 44 mm steel case with a domed crystal and ergonomic lugs, with the centrepiece being the free-sprung balance wheel and escapement in silicon.

Initial Thoughts

GP’s flagship complication, historically speaking, was the Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges. The Free Bridge is an abbreviated, affordable take on the Three Bridge concept. Although the Free Bridge is a simple watch – it’s a two-hand timepiece indicating just hours and minutes – it has been executed fairly elaborately in terms of the movement. In that sense, the Free Bridge is similar to the Ulysse Nardin Freak X, which is not surprising since the two are sister companies.

However, past versions of the Free Bridge were fairly plain in terms of design. The Free Bridge Meteorite is a bit more stylish in terms of aesthetics thanks to the meteorite panels that frame the open-worked movement. The silvery-grey tone of the meteorite is a good match for the black and grey palette of the watch.

At CHF24,600, the Free Bridge Meteorite isn’t too expensive, though it isn’t the same sort of value proposition that the Freak X is. Though the two watches are similar thematically, the Freak X has a more complex movement but only costs about 10% more. The Free Bridge Meteorite would have been a similar value proposition in the low twenties.

A fancy balance

The Free Bridge is equipped with an automatic movement based on GP’s longstanding in-house calibre, but reworked to reveal the symmetrically laid out barrel, going train, and balance wheel on the front. These components are visible through the base plate, which doubles as the dial.

The two meteorite panels sit on either side of the open barrel, with the balance wheel sitting just below. Made of silicon with regulating masses on its periphery, the balance wheel is a complicated construction that is a design feature in itself. Also in silicon are the escape wheel and pallet lever, which are visible to the top left of the balance.

The balance sits under a sculpted bridge modelled on the bridge found in the Neo Tourbillon. As in the tourbillon, the bridge is finished with frosting and accented with wide, bevelled edges, making it a decorative highlight of the calibre. Though the rest of the movement is less visible due to the black finish on most bridges, it is finished to a similar level as the single bridge.

Like its pricer tourbillon cousin, the Free Bridge Meteorite has a large 44 mm case without a bezel. Though the case is large, the lugs are relatively short in order to help wearability. The highly domed “box” crystal sits right on the case band and allows for a better view of the dial, even at an angle.

Visible though the back is the movement, which is derived from the GP cal. 1800. With majority of the key components visible on the dial, the view on the back has little to offer, save for the full rotor with the GP emblem in relief.

Key facts and price

Girard-Perregaux Free Bridge Meteorite
Ref. 82000-11-3259-5CX

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

Movement: GP01800-2085
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 54 hours

Strap: Black calf leather with a fabric effect

Limited edition: No
Availability: Starting March 2024
Price: CHF22,750 before taxes

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