Tag: Girard-Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition

Girard-Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition

Although younger generations will associate Girard-Perregaux with the Laureato luxury sports watch collection, this brand has a historic watch up its sleeve with a colourful history. Known as La Esmeralda, this famous award-winning tourbillon chronometer pocket watch with three gold bridges was based on a model built by Constant Girard in 1860. Following the special pink gold edition launched in 2021 to celebrate the brand’s 230th anniversary, La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition returns in a white hand-engraved gold case with a secret hinged cover on the caseback and a guilloché Grand Feu enamel dial. Girard-Perregaux will unveil the white gold limited edition during the 2023 Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (20-25 February).
Watchmaker Constant Girard (1825-1903) and his wife, Marie Perregaux, founded Girard-Perregaux in 1856. Fascinated with the design of escapements, especially tourbillons, Constant Girard decided that the three parallel bridges in the form of arrows securing his tourbillon movement could become part of the design language of the watch, which he patented in 1884. Housed in an elaborately engraved gold case with a white Grand Feu enamel dial and a hinged dust cover engraved with three horses, La Esmeralda was submitted to the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889 and won a gold medal. In a strange turn of events, La Esmeralda ended up in Mexico and was sold to Porfirio Díaz, the Mexican general who served seven consecutive turns as president of Mexico and was finally ousted in 1911 during the Mexican Revolution. A descendant of Díaz sold La Esmeralda to Girard-Perregaux in 1970.
La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition is one of Girard-Perregaux’s most illustrious and expensive models. Naturally, there are more contemporary interpretations of the tourbillon in the Bridges collection, like this spectacular tourbillon model, all characterised by the three bridges theme laid down by their venerable ancestor. This white gold version of the La Esmeralda Tourbillon is identical to the 230th-anniversary edition and comes in a lavishly hand-engraved 43mm case with a height of 15.1mm. The leaf motifs engraved on the bezel, caseband, lugs and buckle are hand-engraved by GP’s in-house artisans in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The spectacular guilloché dial with royal blue Grand Feu enamel hosts the hallmark gold arrow-shaped bridges with a surprising twist. The bridge over the top barrel and the bridge spanning the tourbillon features two hand-engraved white gold horses that reference the horses found on the caseback of the original La Esmeralda. As you would expect from such a high-end model, the bridges feature mirror-polished finishings.
Beneath the bridges is a recessed figure eight, home to the barrel at noon, the centre wheel and the lyre-shaped tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock, which weighs just 0.3g. The faceted white gold Dauphine-style hour and minute hands are complemented by a blued steel hand on the tourbillon to indicate the small seconds.

On the reverse side, the ‘secret’ hinged caseback is decorated with guilloché, and the white gold silhouettes of three horses are filled with blue enamel. With its fluted bezel, the caseback opens to reveal the in-house automatic GP09600-2083 movement with a white gold micro-rotor. Beating at 21,600vph, the movement delivers a minimum power reserve of 50 hours when fully wound.

Girard-Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition

Girard-Perregaux, the prestigious Maison from La Chaux de Fonds has a long history of making tourbillons and other expressions of Haute Horlogerie. Recently, the Manufacture unveiled its Girard-Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition, a watch that combines the brand’s legendary three gold bridges with an array of artistic crafts. Join the US-based journalist, Meehna Goldsmith, as she explores the composition of this remarkable creation. For its 230th anniversary, Girard-Perregaux pulled out all the stops with the creation of the Girard-Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition . To understand this piece of wrist art, we need to delve into the brand’s history.
In 1867, Constant Girard proved his prowess in chronometry by winning first prize at the Observatoire of Neuchâtel competition for his pocket watch outfitted with a tourbillon, detent escapement and three nickel silver bridges. He presented this same watch at the ‘Exposition Universelle’ held in Paris the same year, where the watch was awarded a medal.
The three bridge construction, which is both a functional and artistic element, has been passed down as a defining characteristic. When you see those three horizontal bridges on a watch, you can immediately identify it as a Girard-Perregaux.

Girard took the model of his award-winning pocket watch to showcase precision as well as artistry for the ‘Exposition Universelle’ in 1889. This time he housed the movement with a tourbillon and detent escapement in a lustrous pink gold 56mm case with three gold bridges to match. In addition, the case featured intricate engraving by Fritz Kundert. After winning a diploma and gold medal at the Exposition, Girard decided to sell the award-winning piece through a jewellery retailer with stores called ‘La Esmeralda’ located in Paris and Mexico. The pocket watch caught the eye of Mexican president Porfirio Diaz (1830-1915) who purchased it. La Esmeralda stayed in the Diaz family until 1970 when Girard-Perregaux acquired the acclaimed pocket watch for its museum. To recognise and honour its roots, Girard-Perregaux released the La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition in November of 2021. Doffing its hat to the original, this 21st century rendition offers a modern interpretation that exhibits the brand’s array of talents.

When you first lay eyes on her, Girard-Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition is a lot to take in. (Let’s call her the LETASEE for short.) Although there’s an overwhelming feast of detail, it’s one where you’d be missing out if you didn’t take a seat at the table. Like its predecessor, LETASEE uses pink gold as a motif for its 43mm case and bridges. And wow, those bridges! Over the years, the three bridges have evolved to become more refined and used as a platform to demonstrate finishing finesse. Here you’ll find a particular treat. Usually, bevelling is rounded or flat and done at a 45° angle. In this case, Girard-Perregaux has created a concave bevel that plays delightful tricks in the light: the shade of the gold changes and sometimes the surface will appear convex, offering an added dimension for the eyes. And then there are the sinewy horses, sculpted to depict them in motion. They are incorporated as part of the bridges anchoring the tourbillon and winding barrel. As magnificent as they are, what possessed Girard-Perregaux to choose horses instead of say penguins or giraffes? The answer (somewhat) lies on the back case of the 1889 La Esmeralda, where there are horses engraved. Still, the reason for why they appear on the original remains a mystery. The barrel and mainplate offer up the artistry of traditionally applied guilloché patterns, applied by an artisan operating a lathe. Thereafter, they are dressed in Grand Feu enamel, providing a wonderful contrast with the pink-gold, dauphine-type hour and minute hands journeying around the dial. Not to be outdone, the case is elaborately engraved with a leaf motif in a bow to Kundert. You see the rich blue on the side and flanks? That’s enamelling also, which carries over to the back cover of the watch, along with the equine theme. Enamel outside the dial is practically unheard of, but Girard-Perregaux expands the canvas for this technique. Nice thinking out of the box, or, in this case, the circle. As for the movement, pressing the pusher on the crown opens a “secret” cover that reveals the in-house produced calibre GP09600-1506, impeccably decorated, and that’s saying a lot coming from my admittedly critical eye. The pink gold motif continues with the motion-work bridge and marking plate, whose finishing reflects the shape of the Gold Bridges. While Girard-Perregaux puts on display its virtuosity with handiwork, it also wants you to know its cutting edge technical capabilities. Indeed, an example can be seen with the mainplate, which is milled to incredibly small tolerances with a CNC machine. Girard-Perregaux isn’t usually mentioned in the same breath as Vacheron Constantin, A. Lange & Sohne or Greubel Forsey. With Girard-Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition , the brand makes a strong statement that it belongs on the same podium. Perhaps the watch might even reveal the mystery of the horses to its owners.