A new icon for the Bridges family
The Free Bridge and its close sibling, the Free Bridge Infinity Edition are endowed with a distinctive arrow-shaped, Neo Bridge that spans the base of the mainplate. Its shape upholds the Maison’s iconic arrow-shaped bridge design, but simultaneously reinterprets the contemporary structures often seen in architecture. Despite Girard-Perregaux being duly proud of its past, it has not let this impair creativity or progress.
The master watchmakers in La Chaux-de-Fonds have reinterpreted the tried and tested GP01800 in-house calibre, adding a sizeable dose of cutting-edge technology. Girard-Perregaux has used silicon to make the escapement and parts of the balance wheel. While silicon is used by some companies, it remains rare despite its many advantages. It is not liable to corrosion, is unaffected by changing temperature, lightweight and less susceptible to magnetic fields. These attributes confer an array of user-benefits. For example, where some parts made of conventional materials can behave differently at various temperatures, silicon components remain unaffected, delivering consistent timekeeping. In addition, silicon’s low coefficient of friction mitigates both wear and energy consumption.
Perhaps one of the most notable differences with silicon relates to its capacity to be made into elaborate shapes which would be impossible using conventional technologies. In 2013, Girard-Perregaux created an ingenious silicon blade for its prize-winning Constant Escapement L.M. The action of the silicon blade flexing backwards and forwards delivered a uniform supply of energy to the escapement, enhancing precision.
Once again, Girard-Perregaux has capitalised on silicon’s ability to be formed into intricate shapes, using the state-of the-art material to create not only the escapement but also a large variable inertia balance. Most watches feature a‘raquette’ which alters the effective length of the balance spring, making the watch run faster or slower. With a variable inertia balance, the length of the balance spring is fixed and the rate is altered by moving adjustable inertia blocks. The benefit of this approach is that the balance is more stable and less susceptible to shocks. Its aerial design as well as its large diameter further augment precision.
In contrast to a conventional sapphire crystal, both models are fitted with a newly designed sapphire crystal box, featuring a distinctive dome shape. It requires four to five times more material in order to create the domed shape and necessitates incredible skill to polish the crystal to a blemish-free conclusion. The movement opening, between 6 o’clock and noon, bathes the exposed movement components with an abundance of light. The inverted movement affords stunning dial-side views of various components, often hidden from view, including the balance, the escapement and the barrel positioned at the top of the dial. The self-winding GP01800-1170 perpetuates the company’s reputation for fine watchmaking. The movement is embellished with Côtes de Genève motif, bevelling, sandblasting and snailing. The specification of the Infinity Edition also includes an 18-carat pink gold oscillating weight. The Maison’s Eagle symbol adorns the calibre, testifying that it is a Manufacture movement.
Both the Free Bridge and the Free Bridge Infinity Edition feature an hour bridge which draws the onlookers gaze to the barrel and the oscillating balance wheel. On the Free Bridge, this hour bridge is satin-finished and hand-bevelled, while the hour bridge on the Free Bridge Infinity Edition is formed of onyx, a material which exhibits the darkest shade of intense black. The hour bridge encompasses straight lines which sit in contrast with the arcing lines of the case. The Free Bridge is housed in a 44mm steel case, while its counterpart, the Free Bridge Infinity Edition, assumes a stealthy appearance courtesy of its DLC treatment.
The Free Bridge features skeletonised Dauphine-style hands that collaborate with suspended indexes to impart the prevailing time. The suspended indexes reinforce the model’s three-dimensional design language. The Free Bridge Infinity Edition employs golden hues to deliver an alternative persona. The colour-coordinated strap on both models isenriched with two prominent stitches adjacent to each lug, presented in a contrasting shade. Moving forward, this design element will become a recurring GP signature design element.