The following article was produced in partnership with Girard-Perregaux and The Hour Glass.
Girard-Perregaux’s recently launched Neo Constant Escapement answers a question that has puzzled watchmakers for hundreds of years – how to maintain a consistent flow of power to the escapement (the heart of the watch). Girard-Perregaux‘s groundbreaking solution is hardly surprising, considering innovation has driven the Swiss brand since 1791.
Throughout the 19th century, Constant Girard was committed to advancing modern chronometry, experimenting with several combinations and mechanisms to create a variety of pocket watches equipped with tourbillon escapements. In 1867, Girard-Perregaux presented the ‘Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges’ at the Paris Universal Exhibition, a watershed moment in the watch industry where form and function suddenly became entwined. The three prominent bridges transformed the watch’s architecture, turning a purely functional component – the bridge – into an aesthetic feature.
The ‘Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges’ was an audacious expression of the avant-garde, a modern masterpiece reflecting Girard-Perregaux’s enduring artistry and innovation legacy.
Now, as a lasting testament to the pocket watches unveiled by Constant Girard more than 150 years ago, Girard-Perregaux has released the Neo Constant Escapement. This release once again forgoes convention to advance the watchmaking arts.
A problem that afflicts most watches is that when fully wound, the force from the spring barrel, ultimately serving the regulating organ, is excessive. This potentially impairs precision and can cause harm to the movement. Conversely, as the energy within the barrel diminishes, prior to the point of total exhaustion, the regulating organ receives insufficient force which again impairs precision.
The Neo Constant Escapement is the latest evolution of the Maison’s work to master energy, controlling the flow of time through a linear supply of force to the regulating organ. The mechanism addresses the problem that afflicts most watches: rate stability.
Rate stability is not the same as precision, it’s arguably more important. Indeed, once the movement is regulated, a constant force mechanism will ensure the rate does not fluctuate, conferring superior chronometric performance.
First released in 2013 after decades spent at the Manufacturer’s R&D department, Girard-Perregaux’s Constant Escapement incorporated a unique silicon blade to which the Maison owes its breakthrough. In the same year, it was awarded the prestigious’ Aiguille D’Or’ at the Grand Prix d’Horologerie de Genève, dubbed the Oscars of the watch industry.
“The Constant L.M was a remarkable watch, something that was recognised with the award of the GPHG’ Aiguille D’Or’ in 2013,” Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Girard-Perregaux, said. “It is now part of our Maison’s patrimony, however, we did not want to leave it on the shelf gathering dust.”
“On the contrary, we wanted to build on our know-how, push the performance envelope and make an up-to-the-minute evolution of the original concept. The Neo Constant Escapement is superior in every way. It stands testament to the dedication of our talented team and represents a new era in watchmaking.”
The redesigned Neo Constant Escapement is lighter and more contemporarily sized than previous iterations. Available in a 45mm diameter and presented in a single piece of expertly cut aerospace-grade titanium, the downward-curving lugs create an illusion of the watch appearing smaller on the wrist than its dimensions imply.
Consistent with the now signature aesthetics that have become synonymous with the brand’s diverse collection, the exposed mechanics that sit beneath a sapphire crystal box are a marvel to admire. The dial layout has also been refined with skeletonised dauphine-style hour and minute hands emanating from the centre, unlike previous iterations, which featured a stacked dial layout. The Neo Constant Escapement is fitted with a fabric effect rubber strap secured with a titanium triple folding buckle incorporating a micro-adjustment system, allowing the wearer to fine-tune the strap for the optimum wrist fit.
The latest Neo Constant Escapement continues to build upon the groundwork laid initially by its founding members. It perfectly encapsulates Girard-Perregaux’s commitment to evolving its expertise and innovation, a watch that pushes the envelope of practical design just as founder Constant Girard did all those years ago.