Its name is a journey in its own right. It is the direct “descendant” of a masterpiece from the Girard-Perregaux Historical collections: La Esmeralda Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges, created by Constant Girard-Perregaux and awarded a Gold Medal at the 1889 Universal Exhibition held in Paris. The one-of-a-kind La Esmeralda tourbillon “À secret” watch pays homage to its forebear, with all the attendant duties. From the splendidly ornate case and cover, on to the ingenious construction of the movement with its components magnified by an expert touch, and right the way through to the tourbillon carriage weighing a mere 0.305 g, its creation drew upon exceptional talents.
Honouring an iconic model such as La Esmeralda Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges means expressing admiration for a major horological work on both technical and artistic levels. It implies recognising Constant Girard-Perregaux’s innovative vision within which the movement becomes a design element in its own right. And it entails proclaiming loyalty to the values of excellence upheld by a Maison and paying allegiance to a passionate, generous and perpetually inspirational founder.
Journey of an historic watch
1889, the Paris Universal Exhibition. Overlooked by the Eiffel Tower specially built for the occasion, and overflown by hydrogen balloons, the fair’s pavilions hosted the best of art and industry. Electricity was used on a wide scale and the shows by Buffalo Bill and his Indians were a crowd magnet. A watch from La Chaux-de-Fonds also created a stir, as visitors flocked to admire the architecture of the calibre featuring three parallel arrows from the Maison Girard-Perregaux.
This pocket chronometer with pivoted detent escapement and three gold bridges was awarded a Gold Medal at the event and entrusted to international agents Hauser, Zivy & C°, owners of the luxurious Mexican store La Esmeralda offering a superlative range of watchmaking, art and jewellery.
It was not until the late 1960s that this watch with its richly engraved hunter-type case and Grand Feu enamel dial, purchased from a descendant of the Mexican president Porfirio Diaz, returned to its native land. Its name, La Esmeralda, retains the memory of its epic journey.
From one exceptional model to another
It was in the1860s that Constant Girard-Perregaux developed this iconoclastic construction in which three arrow-shaped parallel bridges support the moving parts of the movement. In 1867, a tourbillon pocket chronometer version with three bridges won a First Class Bulletin from Neuchâtel Observatory, as well as a medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition. Constant Girard-Perregaux therefore decided to protect the original design of this movement by filing a patent in 1884 with the United States Patent Office.
Almost a century and a half later, La Esmeralda Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges “À secret”, entirely crafted by a single master-watchmaker, is inspired by the award-winning 1889 model and displays a concern for detail that naturally ranks it as a prime example of Fine Watchmaking.
The component finishing is entirely performed by hand, including the upper mainplate that is hand-engraved to highlight the radiant guilloché motif; the barrel that is satin-brushed, chamfered and also engraved with a spiral motif; as well as the lower mainplate adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif and concentric circular graining. Finally, even the bearing the movement number is straight-grained with hand-polished angles; and all 80 components of the famous lyre-shaped tourbillon carriage are likewise hand-polished. The structure of the in-house self-winding movement focuses attention on this complex device ensuring perfectly regular rating while weighing just 0.305 g.
Designed like a “secret” watch, for the first time the new interpretation of La Esmeralda features a cover protecting the back of the model. This element further adds to the precious nature of this creation and promotes a special sense of privileged intimacy with the wearer. The entirely hand-engraved pink gold case picks up the brilliantly executed motifs adorning the 1889 model. Three horses thus gallop across the outside of the cover, while the interior is engraved with the inscriptions “Tourbillon” and “La Chaux-de-Fonds”, leaving enough space for personalisation by the future owner. Other features reminiscent of the 1889 include the flowers and the “oves” adorning the bezel and the top of the lugs. Finally, the case sides are identical to the model that served as inspiration.
Two hundred hours of patience and absolute concentration were required to craft the various motifs, along with the very essence of engraving: light and depth effects, the contrast between shiny and matt surfaces… and everything composing the heart and soul of this exceptional expertise.
This one-of-a-kind model fitted with a triple sapphire crystal affording a panoramic view of the movement is delivered with a black hand-sewn alligator leather strap secured by a pink gold folding clasp.