March 16, 2019
by Rob Nudds
When the majority of your reading material is made up of press releases, it can have a very strange effect on your mind. You find yourself unable to describe the mundane appropriately. Suddenly, everything has a story, and a wildly grandiose one, at that. Nonetheless, stories are important. They give us an emotional context for a product we are required to love beyond reason in order to purchase. But sometimes the tale of a product’s inspiration can get in the way of the straight-up appreciation of the product, itself. The Girard-Perregaux Quasar watch is a beautiful thing. Regardless of its origin story, the end result is a crystalline eye-catcher. The futurism of this piece extends from outside to in. It’s a total concept project. A well-realized fever dream. Simply put, it’s cool. I can see that. I don’t necessarily need the association of deep space to convince me.
The 45mm case is made of sapphire glass. Its transparency, fused with the heavy skeletonization of the movement, very much adds a sense of weightlessness to the piece. Despite the fact that the watch is a rather tall 15.25mm off the wrist, the materials and proportions work well together to reduce what would be a bulky-looking timepiece in steel. Machining this housing from a single disc of sapphire takes a mammoth 200 hours to achieve.
Unsurprisingly, the “glass” of the watch is sapphire crystal, treated with an anti-reflective coating. The display caseback is not coated but blends in well with the case as a result. The Girard-Perregaux Quasar watch is water resistant to 30m. Although the concept was inspired by the miracles of nature occurring above our heads, literally exploring them with this watch on your wrist would be a bad idea.
In the absence of a dial, the movement takes center stage. The GP09400-1035 is a modified version of the caliber 9400, dropping the manipulate from the parent movement to create a “void” in the middle of the watch. The Girard-Perregaux Quasar watch is self-winding, has a power reserve of 60 hours, an operating speed of 21,600vph (3Hz), and 260 components. The hours and minutes are displayed centrally by a skeletonized, white- gold “Dauphine” type, hand-set, and filled with luminous material.
The tourbillon at six o’clock indicates the seconds. 80 components comprise the tourbillon, which weighs in at just 0.250 grams. Normally, tourbillons don’t lure me in too much. I feel they have become ubiquitous and seem to be thrown at many designs as a last resort.
I do not feel this is the case with the Girard-Perregaux Quasar. It seems right that the tourbillon should take center stage here. The ethereal case and absent dial create the perfect framework for this complication. To my mind, the tourbillon, which is a complex addition to any timepiece, looks at home in avant-garde surroundings. And the skeletonized innards of the Quasar along with the recognizable three bridges design, allow the tourbillon to breathe.
This is certainly a striking watch. Often, I find sapphire cases to be a bit too gimmicky. Conversely, I find this case shape pleasingly muted. This allows the material to do the talking. It is nice to see GP exercising such restraint with the case design and reserving their flair for the internal workings.
In 2019 Girard-Perregaux is exploring a central theme with its watches: Earth to Sky. This watch reaches beyond the sky and into outer space for inspiration. As beautiful as it is, the price tag might bring potential purchases back down to Earth with a bump. The Girard-Perregaux Quasar watch, ref. 99295-43-000-BA6A, retails for $194,000. Visit girard-perregaux.com for more information.