Two weeks ago I attended the wedding of a good friend from watchmaking school, who also happens to be a fellow co-founder of Alliance Horlogère. At the reception afterwards, I sat with another great friend of ours who is also a watchmaker. As might be expected, the conversation throughout the evening drifted in and out of what we’ve been up to at work and, at one point, he mentioned a new watch he’d seen recently on the wrist of the president of Girard-Perregaux. Of course, having shown some interest in the peculiar piece, he was offered the chance to handle it for a moment. Though after gulping back the monstrous price tag he was informed of for the prototype, my friend was quick to give it back to him, feeling a little weak in the knees. I was able to relate (to a small degree) having felt similarly after hearing the cost of the first Patek I ever handled.
Seven figure price aside, the most noteworthy feature about this new timepiece is its completely outside-the-box approach to escapement design. I had a very difficult time trying to conceptualize in my head exactly what my friend was attempting to convey to me as he explained what he’d seen, and I left that night with little more than a vague idea of what this new escapement looked like or how it could possibly function as he had described. It turns out, a key part of its ability to function got lost in translation (quite literally) and I didn’t discover until today what that was when I stumbled across an article on Europastar that portrayed the escapement my friend had seen. Silicon seems to hold a lot of new promise for mechanical timekeeping and GP’s new constant force escapement is the biggest step away from conventional thinking I have seen. I would have greatly appreciated the opportunity to see this new marvel in the wild myself.
For the full scoop, check out Europastar’s article on The Silicon Revolution. The Girard-Perregaux escapement is the third one featured down the page.