Girard-Perregaux brings its most iconic horological innovation — the tourbillon with three gold bridges, first used in a pocketwatch in 1867 — into a resolutely contemporary, 21st century evolution in a new wristwatch called Free Bridge, and its limited-edition, gold-detailed sibling, the Free Bridge Infinity. The latest members of the Swiss manufacture’s Bridges family, whose models take inspiration from the 19th-century Three Bridges design, made their debut at Geneva Watch Days this week.
Following the design codes of its predecessor in the family, the Neo Bridges, the Free Bridge is notable for the arrow-shaped, architecturally designed bridge that spans the base of the mainplate, which also serves as the dial. Under a newly designed, box-type, domed sapphire crystal, the dial offers a large opening in the middle that offers dial-side views of many essential components. Among these are the large, variable inertia balance (a type more stable and less susceptible to shocks) and the escapement, both of which are constructed in silicon, a material used increasingly (but still relatively rarely) in the watchmaking world for its resistance to corrosion, temperature variations, and magnetism — all of which contribute to less friction and thus less wear and tear on the vital movement components.
Girard-Perregaux’s in-house, automatic Caliber GP01800-1170 has its spring barrel positioned unconventionally at 12 o’clock. This barrel, which holds a power reserve of 54 hours, is also in full view from the front, behind the skeleton Dauphine hands. On the back, through a sapphire window, the movement’s haute horlogerie decorations come into focus, including côtes de Genève, bevelling, sandblasting, and snailing on the plates and bridges. The version of the movement used in the Free Bridge Infinity has an 18k rose-gold oscillating weight emblazoned with the Girard-Perregaux eagle emblem.
What are the other crucial differences between the Free Bridge, which is unlimited, and Free Bridge Infinity, which is limited to 88 pieces? Both are housed in 40-mm cases, with the Free Bridge’s case in steel and the Infinity version’s in black DLC-coated steel. On the dial ring of the Infinity, the suspended, luminous-treated hour indices are in rose gold; on the steel-cased Free Bridge, these markers are rhodium-plated. The hour bridge on the Infinity is made of onyx, for an intense deep black appearance that contrasts with the gray tones of the unlimited model’s satin-finished, hand-beveled bridge. The Free Bridge costs $17,500 and is mounted on a fabric-effect calf leather strap, while the Free Bridge Infinity retails for $20,800 on a glossy black alligator strap with gold-colored stitching.