La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the Swiss Jura, is regarded as the cradle of fine watchmaking, but it is also the birthplace of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known more widely as Le Corbusier, one of the titans of modern architecture and design. Now, Girard-Perregaux, a watch brand based in La Chaux-de-Fonds and long associated with Le Corbusier’s estate, has released a trilogy of watches with designs based on his work.
The Girard-Perregaux Le Corbusier Trilogy pays tribute to the three cities most associated with the artist’s career: La Chaux-de-Fonds, where he spent his formative years and trained as a sculptor and engraver at the town’s School of Art; Paris, where he adopted his nom d’artiste and introduced the public to his pioneering furniture designs; and Marseille, where he did his most important late architectural work in his signature medium, reinforced concrete. The model chosen for the three watches — each limited to only five pieces — is Girard-Perregaux’s Vintage 1945, named for the year that Le Corbusier published one of his most famous works, Les Trois Établissements Humains (The Three Human Establishments) and conceived his Modulor proportion scale.
The Vintage 1945 Le Corbusier La Chaux-de-Fonds takes as its inspiration the artist’s early work as a sculptor and engraver. The dial is a miniaturized, faithful reproduction of one of his early works in a bas-relief of mother-of-pearl. Each dial — which requires meticulous work in design, sculpting, polishing and varnishing — takes a full week to produce. The case is in rose gold. The price is $53,200. (Click on photos for larger images.)
Charles-Edouard Jeanneret’s iconic furniture designs — which used a then-unprecedented combination of steel, tanned leather and rawhide — provide the inspiration for the Vintage 1945 Le Corbusier Paris. The watch has a steel case and a cowhide strap that evokes the look of a Le Corbusier chaise lounge. The hand-engraved metal dial illustrates the designer’s Modulor system of human proportion, based on the human scale of a male figure, the so-called “Golden Mean” and the applied perception of light. The price is $21,300.
Marseille is the city where Le Corbusier created his most significant postwar structure, the highly influential Cité Radieuse (“Radiant City”), a 12-story housing unit built from rough-cast reinforced concrete. For the Vintage 1945 Le Corbusier Marseille watch, Girard-Perregaux created an actual concrete dial, which required three days to pour, dry and painstakingly hand-finish. Needless to say, concrete is as rare a material in watchmaking now as it was in building construction back in Le Corbusier’s day. The watch has a steel case and costs $31,900.
All the Le Corbusier watches contain Girard-Perregaux’s GP3300-0078 movement, with 26 jewels, a frequency of 28,800 vph, and a power reserve of at least 46 hours. The Vintage 1945 cases measure 36.20 mm by 35.25 mm, with sapphire crystals front and back, and are water-resistant to 30 meters.
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