Engraving image

Engraving

Out of all the Métiers d’Arts performed in the watchmaking industry, engraving may be the most demanding and time-consuming. Hence, at Girard-Perregaux, we dedicate it only to our most exceptional timepieces like La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret”. Mastered by highly skilled artisans, engraving is done entirely by hand using a tool called “burin” or chisel. By removing material from a metallic component, the engraver creates shapes and volumes, all the while playing with light and shadows. Engraving is an art that leaves no room for error, under penalty of starting everything all over again. Removing material is indeed always possible, however adding some is not an option.

The pocket watch

1889

 

The Paris Universal Exhibition was held in 1889, when Constant Girard presented the pocket watch La Esmeralda, a masterpiece that won a gold medal that year and became legendary among the entire watch industry. Not only was its movement revolutionary thanks to its Tourbillon with Three Bridges architecture, its casing was equally impressive. Made of pink gold, the case was entrusted to Fritz Kundert, renowned artist engraver, that made use of all the techniques known at the time (most of which are now forgotten) to produce an extraordinary rich and beautiful decoration. Amongst them, the three galloping horses at the back will remain an inspiration, still two centuries later.

Hours of work

200

 

Designed like a “secret” watch, La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” – the wristwatch reinterpretation of the pocket watch La Esmeralda – features a cover protecting the back of the model. This element further adds to the precious nature of this creation and promotes a special sense of privileged intimacy with the wearer. The entirely hand-engraved gold case draws on the brilliantly executed floral motifs adorning the 1889 model. Three horses gallop across the outside of the cover, while the interior is engraved with the inscriptions “Tourbillon” and “La Chaux-de-Fonds”, leaving enough space for personalisation by the future owner. 200 hours of patience and absolute concentration were required to craft the various motifs, along with the very essence of engraving: light and depth effects, the contrast between shiny and matt surfaces… and everything composing the heart and soul of this exceptional expertise.

Millimetre of depth

0.6

 

For the first time, the famous Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges caliber showcases two bridges – the barrel bridge and tourbillon bridge – whose extremity takes the shape of a horse. Rough and flat after machining, the Bridges are hand-finished with polishing, concave bevelling and satin finishes before being handed over to the engraver that will give life to the horses. Always taking heed of the meticulous finishes at the other end of the Bridge, they sculpt the material to a depth of 0.6 millimetre only! Talking about dexterity, thoroughness and precision to describe the Art of engraving is a true understatement.