This year, as Girard-Perregaux celebrates its 230th anniversary, the Manufacture has unveiled La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition—a wristwatch employing the Maison’s legendary watchmaking know-how as well as encompassing an array of artistic crafts, executed to an exceptional standard. This latest creation re-interprets the design of the legendary 1889 ‘La Esmeralda’ pocket watch and references many of its extraordinary refinements.
However, it is not a facsimile of what has gone before, but a tasteful homage to Constant Girard’s prize-winning watch of yesteryear. It is perfectly in tune with the expectations of a modern-day audience but respects La Esmeralda and seeks to capture its eternal charm. Hand-engraved with grand feu enamel, you can now choose from blue, green and grey colourways, available on request and limited to 18 pieces per colour. This latest interpretation is dressed in blue and will be on display at the 2023 Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition.
La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition is introduced as part of the Eternity Edition series, paying homage the eternal beauty of enamel. This contemporary Interpretation has taken use this métier d’art one step further than its historical forebearer, extending the enamelling onto the outer case sides and lugs—all of which has been executed in-house. To the rear of the watch, the back of the blue enamelled secret cover features three horses, again inspired by the original La Esmeralda and adorned with a sunray guilloché decoration and blue grand feu enamel. The horses return, but their origin remains an enigma or, as they say at the Manufacture, ‘an equine mystery’.
La Esmeralda can trace its origins to 1889 when Constant Girard unveiled an exceptional pocket watch at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. The brilliant watchmaker spent much of his life in the pursuit of superior chronometric performance, winning numerous prizes over the years for his timepieces. However, Constant’s talents were not limited to mechanical excellence alone, he was also an aesthete.
Indeed, some years earlier, in 1867, Constant released a tourbillon chronometer equipped with three nickel silver bridges. With the advent of this piece, he reimagined the role of the bridge, an essential component of the movement, making it an aesthetic part of the watch. With the passage of time, Constant refined the appearance of his beloved three bridges. In 1889, with the advent of La Esmeralda, the three bridges were formed of gold, became more stylised and ennobled with numerous facets. Ultimately, La Esmeralda, presented in its intricately engraved case, was awarded a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle, suitable recognition for its exceptional accuracy and beauty.
Today, the Bridges collection honours the work of Constant Girard and his decision to reimagine the role of the bridge, a design philosophy that lives on, manifest with several Girard-Perregaux models. The present-day interpretation of La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition respects the design of the 1889 watch, but is worn on the wrist, subscribing to modern tastes.
La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition is equipped with a self-winding movement, the GP09600-2083, and features a tourbillon. Consistent with Haute Horlogerie, the movement is endued with numerous refined finishes, often applied by deft use of hand and always respecting the legacy of Constant Girard, a man who understood the importance of mechanical virtue and masterful design.
Three Gold Bridges span the dial, similar to those fitted to La Esmeralda of 1889. However, on this latest model, Girard-Perregaux has once again made the invisible visible by bringing the horses engraved on the back case of the original pocket watch up to centre stage of this new timepiece. Indeed, two hand-engraved galloping horses form the right and left ends of the barrel bridge and tourbillon bridge. Each bridge is painstakingly finished and features concave bevelling, mirror-polishing, flanks with horizontal ‘traits-tirés’ and rounded off arms. It requires 40 hours to finish each bridge, while the additional engraving found on the barrel bridge and tourbillon takes an extra 50 hours to complete.