In the lucrative sport of Formula One racing, timing is everything. From scoring a seat in one of the coveted teams to being able to outdrive everyone else, time plays a crucial role in tasting victory. This is why luxury watchmakers have long aligned their names with the sport, and today is no different.
Since partnering with the Aston Martin team for 2021, Girard-Perregaux has debuted its new Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges – Aston Martin Edition timepiece. It’s a long name but, importantly, it underscores the passion of the two luxury brands by offering a limited-edition model featuring stunning watchmaking mechanics and exotic materials.
Inspired by the pocket watch
The Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges – Aston Martin Edition draws its inspiration from the iconic Three Bridges pocket watch of the 19th century. It is reimagined in a contemporary way with minute design details including a world-first black calf leather strap finished in rubber alloy – an innovative rubber insert interlaced with white gold for the ultimate aesthetic. This unique strap design is intended to pay homage to Aston Martin racing cars of the past.
The cutting-edge materials don’t end there. A 44-millimeter case is crafted from Grade 5 titanium to achieve both strength and lightness while remaining hypo-allergenic. The alloy is then finished in black diamond-like carbon to give the timepiece true stealth appeal.
While the choice of case material is abundant these days, the two names chose this material because titanium ore was discovered by William Gregor, a clergyman in England, the home of Aston Martin, back in 1791 – the same year Girard-Perregaux was founded.
Secrets of innovation
The strength of the case meant that the watchmaker could employ a stunning sapphire crystal box on the front and rear to allow natural light to illuminate the watch’s striking inner workings. The design of the Tourbillon itself is built on a main plate that sits between both panes of sapphire crystal to give the appearance of a captivating floating movement.
The most notable features are the three bridges, a signature of Girard-Perregaux, which span the dial and are similarly formed of titanium with black physical vapor deposition. By paring back the movement, the watchmakers were able to seemingly make the main plate disappear, leaving the illusion of a movement flying within the case, hence Flying Bridges.
The lower part of the dial is where the lyre-shaped cage of the Tourbillon sits. This unique design characteristic can be found on all of the company’s Tourbillons dating back to the 19th century.
Other notable fine details include a blue hand on the cage to indicate the running seconds and Aston Martin’s name engraved on the vertical flank of the white gold micro-rotor, which features white luminescence that appears blue in restricted light. The hours and minutes hands are also finished in this white luminescent treatment for a blue glow.
A distinguished partnership
Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Girard-Perregaux, explained the importance of having Aston Martin on board for arguably the maison’s most iconic timepiece.
“Rarely do we work with others to reinterpret the Three Bridges, however, on this occasion, we have made an exception, mindful of Aston Martin’s prowess for design.
“When viewing the design of an Aston Martin, you will note the firm’s distinctive front grille, first seen on the DB Mark III of the late 50s. Likewise, the scoops and side strakes found on the company’s modern-day models are functional elements, intended to improve airflow while enriching the overall appearance of each car.
“At Girard-Perregaux, we share a similar philosophy. For example, when the maison released the now-legendary Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges in 1867, it transformed three functional elements into attractive aesthetic features and demonstrated an approach that we continue to employ today. Finally, this latest partnership provides a fascinating chapter in Girard-Perregaux’s 230-year history.”
Marek Reichman, Aston Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer, noted the difficulties of the project based on what they were accustomed to in the automotive world.
“The greatest of the challenges we faced with the design of this new timepiece were those of scale, as you can imagine. We had to consider lines and proportion on a far smaller scale than we are used to in the realm of automotive design. That said, good design is good design, whether it is a watch or a car, the principles remain the same. I’m delighted with the finished watch and congratulate everyone who worked on this project as this collaboration has produced a timepiece of great beauty.”
The Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges – Aston Martin Edition will be limited to 18 pieces worldwide.