This week, Swiss watchmaker Girard-Perregaux, debuted an all-new timepiece with an intricate open-worked dial, called the Free Bridge.
Available at launch in two versions, the Free Bridge and Free Bridge Infinity Edition, both come in a 44 mm x 12.2 mm stainless steel case, and the Infinity Edition’s steel case has been further treated with a black DLC plating.
According to Girard-Perregaux, “These new models pay respect to Girard- Perregaux’s legendary Three Bridges of 1867, but wholeheartedly embrace the future.”
For this new model, Girard-Perregaux has referenced its signature Three-Bridge collection and created a single bridge variation that’s more approachable in price, although still well within the luxury realm.
A single distinctive arrow-shaped “Neo Bridge” — that’s fully visible at 6 o’clock — not only supports the balance wheel, it’s also the focal point of the dial when you’re not looking at the time.
To achieve this gorgeous contemporary aesthetic, the watchmaking team in La Chaux-de-Fonds reinterpreted the existing GP01800 in-house automatic caliber. The new iteration, caliber GP01800-1170, beats at 4Hz, measures 36.2 mm x 5.94 mm, has 185 total components, 23 jewels, and 54-hours of power reserve. Additionally, silicon was used to make the escapement, and part of the free-sprung balance wheel also utilizes silicon. Silicon is lightweight and less susceptible to magnetism, plus it can remain stable even as temperatures vary, and silicon’s low coefficient of friction helps prevent excessive wear and energy loss.
A dark matte coating has been applied to the bridges and mainplate, along with beveled edges, sandblasting, snailing, and Geneva stripes, creating a unique look on both sides. On the dial, you can see where pieces of the mainplate were removed, which reveals the mainspring barrel at 12 o’clock, for example.
A prominent relief engraved version of the GP logo sits on the skeletonized oscillating weight, which is mounted with ceramic ball bearings for smooth operation. On the steel model, the rotor is darkened and has a contrasting pink gold-plated logo and engraving with gilt writing. Whereas on the Infinity edition, the rotor itself is made of 18K pink gold and has engravings that are filled with black paint.
Interestingly, while GP is known for the three bridges aesthetic, and the Neo Bridge at six is the highlight of the dial, there are two additional bridges visible on the dial side, albeit more subtle in appearance than traditional three bridge models. One bridge supports the mainspring and is actually made of the material that remains after the cut-outs from the mainplate were made. The other was added on top of the mainplate/dial to supports the cannon pinion, and therefore the hour and minute hands.
Underneath the domed crystal, a dial ring surrounds the perimeter and applied to it are unusual two-part indices, except at 12 which is a GP logo instead, and 6 which is left blank. The hour markers appear to be floating, like the free bridge. And the Dauphine-style skeletonized hour and minute hands, have the same two-part design as the markers, which ties the entire design together.
For the Infinity Edition, the hands, logo, hour markers, and Neo Bridge are made of 18K pink gold. On the regular production Free Bridge timepiece, the hands and indices are steel, and the Neo-Bridge is blackened.
A small push-in crown controls all winding and setting functions. Water-resistance is rated to 30 meters. The Free Bridge model is paired with a black calfskin leather strap with a faux fabric effect and a triple folding steel folding buckle. The Infinity Edition comes with a black alligator leather strap with black and pink gold-colored stitching, a glossy effect between the scales, and a triple folding, titanium blades, ceramic cover clasp.
The Free Bridge retails for $17,400 (Ref. 82000-11-631-FA6A) and the Free Bridge Infinity Edition retails for $20,800 (Ref. 82000-11-632-FA6A) and will be limited to 88 pieces. Both versions will be available at authorized dealers worldwide beginning October 2020.
Learn more at Girard-Perregaux.