One night after its limited edition FOReverglades watch made its debut during the Art Basel Miami Beach festivities, Girard-Perregaux launched its new sports watch line, called Hawk, at a “watchmaking on the beach” event at Miami’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Before the event, WatchTime sat with Michele Sofisti, CEO of the brand, who gave us a close look at the new pieces and answered questions about the line.
The Hawk collection — which, according to Sofisti, was developed within the course of one year — consists for the moment of two models: a divers’ watch with date, small seconds, and power-reserve indicator, which retains its predecessor’s name, Sea Hawk; and an automatic chronograph called Chrono Hawk. Sofisti explained the thought process behind launching the first new Girard-Perregaux sport collection in many years and how it fits into his larger plans for the brand. “One year ago, we decided we had to bring down the number of references,” he said. “The company had gotten quite large and lost a bit of its visibility and focus. We also recognized that we had two very strong existing collections in the ‘classical’ segment — the Vintage 1945 and 1966 — which were very well-established, but we needed something that was more of a sport-lifestyle piece, with a more contemporary, modern design and more aggressive pricing.”
The aim, according to the CEO, was to phase out many of the existing Girard-Perregaux sport models (namely the Laureato, to which the new pieces owe some of their aesthetic heritage) and to do so in a way that goes back to G-P’s sports-watch roots, incorporating elements of the original Laureato from 1975 as well as those of the Sea Hawk, which made its debut in 1940. “I feel that the Laureato is an important piece of watch design history,” Sofisti said. “It was one of the very first octagonal sports watches, and we wanted something that recalled it.”
Both new watches have a slightly larger case diameter of 44 mm, and both are in stainless steel. The smooth, octagonal edges of the original Laureato live on in the case band. And the new straps — in either leather of high-tech rubber — are neatly integrated into the case and fitted with a new, secure folding buckle. Both timepieces are outfitted with Girard-Perregaux in-house movements with automatic winding. Another noticeable new element is the motif on the dials, a subtle pattern of hexagonal shapes that echo the look of Girard-Perregaux’s famous Golden Bridges.
The new Sea Hawk shares many similarities with its predecessor. According to Sofisti, this was by design. “The Sea Hawk is a very symbolic piece and name in the Girard-Perregaux collection and we didn’t want to change it much,” he says. “We wanted something that respected the original Sea Hawk, including using the same movement, at least for now.” The Sea Hawk is still a professional-grade divers’ watch, with a case water-resistant to 1,000 meters; a unidirectional rotating bezel (black rubber in the black-dial model, all-steel in the silver-dial) to calculate dive times; a helium valve for use during decompression; and an unconventionally placed date window at 1:30. The contrast between brushed steel elements and rubber ones, such as the bezel, crown and octagonal ring, makes for a striking appearance. The markers and hands are coated with luminescent material for underwater legibility. Orange highlights are used to accent the small seconds hand, minutes hand and parts of the power-reserve indicator. (The indicator itself is very user-friendly: as the power runs down, the text in the “danger zone” orange area reminds the wearer to “WIND.”) The movement in the watch is Girard-Perregaux’s Caliber GP3300, which has a 46-hour power reserve.
The Chrono Hawk, also powered by Caliber GP3300, has a case that sports a satin-finished, rounded steel bezel held in place by a black rubber octagonal ring. The light-colored dial has an easy-to-read symmetrical layout, with a date window at 6 o’clock and two subdials, for small seconds and chronograph minutes, at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. The applied indices and hour and minute hands are all luminescent. There are two strap styles available, either in textile or leather, both lined with rubber for wearing comfort.Unlike the Sea Hawk, whose 1,000-meter water resistance necessitates a solid steel caseback, the Chrono has a caseback sapphire viewing window to show off the movement, which has been modified to include a new rotor whose shape brings to mind the silhouette of a hawk in flight.
Sofisti points out that the Hawk’s multi-part case construction, with separate bezels and octagonal case bands, lends the watches to versatility in materials and colors. “The first models are all steel, but next year we plan to release a ceramic version of both the chrono and the diver,” he says. “These watches will have a very flexible way to change their aesthetic. The octagon component could be ceramic, rubber, or any other material; you can change the bezel the same way. The angles of the case can be polished or matte. It’s very easy for this watch to evolve.” Sofisti also revealed that there could be all-new movements made for upcoming models in the Hawk collection, including ones developed by the company’s movement guru, Dominique Loiseau.
The launch of the new collection was carried out in grand style, with an invitation-only beach party at the Mandarin Oriental’s private beach on Miami’s Brickell Key. The event featured two of Girard-Perregaux’s young watchmakers, conducting hands-on watchmaking workshops for fascinated guests at a watchmaker’s table set up on the beach. Meanwhile, guests also enjoyed interactive video installations by Vimeo Best Artist winner Sweatshoppe, enjoyed signature cocktails, and puffed on appropriate-for-the-evening “Tempus” (“time”) cigars, rolled by a master cigar roller from premium cigar brand Alec Bradley, from a rolling table set up on the beach. Among the VIP attendees was Miami mayor Tómas Regalado, who was presented by Sofisti with one of the limited-edition FOReverglades watches.
Sofisti revealed that the new Sea Hawk will retail for around $10,000, with the Chrono Hawk priced slightly higher.
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