Born in one of the most dynamic and glorious periods in the history of Girard-Perregaux, the 1966 collection pays tribute to the technical innovations of the Manufacture in the field of precision timekeeping. These two new 40 and 36 mm steel versions are for the first time welcoming the extremely refined smoky grey dial.“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, according to Leonardo da Vinci. Viewed from a purely instinctive standpoint, the concept of a traditional watch might tend to evoke a certain immutability and austerity. The exact opposite is true of the 1966 Collection by Girard-Perregaux, which stemmed from one of the most dynamic periods enjoyed by the Manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds and which saw it set up an R&D centre and launch the first ever high-frequency movement. In keeping with this perpetual quest for innovation, Girard-Perregaux is paying tribute to this era by presenting two new automatic timepieces, each fitted with a smoky dial and a particularly elegant ultra-thin steel case: the 1966 40mm and the 1966 36mm gem-set models.
Since Girard-Perregaux was founded in 1791, its history has been repeatedly punctuated by legendary creations. Jean-François Bautte, the watchmaker behind the creation of the Manufacture, was one of the greatest late-18th century specialists in the field of ultra-thin watches. Constant Girard-Perregaux subsequently caused a sensation by introducing his legendary Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges, a prize-winner at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1889. More recently, the revolutionary Constant Escapement L.M. – whose operating principle is based on a flexible silicon blade – created a stir in 2013 and marked a turning point in the quest for chronometric regularity. Girard-Perregaux currently holds more than 100 patents and encompasses the full range of watchmaking professions, from movement development through to finishing.
Nonetheless, the 1960s represent a particularly stellar period for the Manufacture marked by what can aptly be described as an ‘acceleration’ of its success. The fact of having its own R&D team was a rare phenomenon at the time and it was this department that handled the secret development of the Gyromatic HF calibre, the first movement in watchmaking history beating at the high frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour. The series-produced watches equipped with this mechanism soon won chronometry competitions that had previously been the exclusive preserve of specially prepared models, regarded as ‘racing beasts’. In 1966, Neuchâtel Observatory awarded Girard-Perregaux the Centenary Prize for its work on enhancing precision. The following year, the Maison earned 662 certificates, accounting for 73% of all those issued by the chronometry authority in the traditional wristwatch category.
It was during this special time that the 1966 Collection was born. Paying tribute to the technical innovations made by Girard-Perregaux in the field of precision timekeeping, it now welcomes two new interpretations in steel: the first measuring 40 mm in diameter, and the second 36 mm. These reliable and accurate models are equipped with the self-winding Manufacture GP03300 calibre, providing a generous 46-hour power reserve. Its mainplate and bridges are meticulously straight-grained, bevelled and adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif. The 218-part movement of the large model powers the hours, minutes and seconds hands, along with a date display in a window at 3 o’clock; while the 36 mm version has no date but is instead graced by diamond hour-markers and a gem-set bezel. The two cases are water-resistant to 30 m and fitted with a transparent case-back.
The most eye-catching feature of all is undoubtedly the refined design. For the first time, the Maison has chosen to endow steel models in the 1966 collection with the elegant smoky grey dial previously reserved for gold watches. The 40 mm version is adorned with a sunburst finish, and the smaller one with a magnificent “flinqué” pattern. The ultra-thin case, the domed and polished leaf-type hands, as well as the applied baton-type hour-markers or Roman numerals also contribute to the perfect aesthetic equilibrium of these two new references that go just as well with a pair of jeans as with an evening dress. At an unbeatably competitive price.