The Girard-Perregaux Neo Constant Escapement is the Swiss luxury brand’s follow-up to the original and highly innovative Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement watch, originally released in 2013. aBlogtoWatch went hands-on with the original Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement in gold in 2014 and ten years on and the Constant Escapement is back – but as Girard-Perregaux demonstrates, it is back in “Neo” (new) reference 93510-21-1930-5CX form. Is this just the same movement in an updated case profile? Or has Girard-Perregaux made other important changes to this interesting watch with a movement that contains a unique silicon-based regulation system?

Let me discuss some context around the Neo Constant Escapement’s mechanical concept, as well as what Girard-Perregaux was originally trying to do with this mechanism. The original Constant Escapement was released at a time when it was very trendy for some luxury watches to be fitted with novel (and often experimental) mechanical movements that eschewed traditional metal parts for mostly silicon parts in the regulation system. This really began in 2001 with the original release of the Ulysse Nardin Freak. Ironically, Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux are now owned by the same folks. With its high-tech presentation and shifting purple color, silicon is undeniably cool, but why is the non-metal material so compelling for watchmakers?

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Silicon and metal differ in enough ways such that silicon has some interesting advantages over metal when used in a mechanical watch movement. Some advantages include: not being affected by changes in temperature, not being affected by magnetism, and not requiring lubrication between moving parts. Silicon parts require fundamentally different machines to produce, but they can be cut into complicated monolithic structures that have an elastic property to them. Silicon parts, when engineered correctly, offer the promise of mechanical watch movements that keep better time over the long run. Accordingly, a good number of luxury watches on the market are equipped with a silicon hairspring and often escapement. A more exotic use of silicon is demonstrated here in the Constant Escapement, which creates complicated, novel systems for spring-based mechanical watch time regulation. One of the most important promises is isochronism, defined as accuracy over time. Traditional systems in mechanical watch movements to produce this effect include “constant force escapements.” Given that part of the outcome of Girard-Perregaux’s in-house caliber GP09200 movement is to have constant force coming from the escapement to the rest of the movement, the name “Constant Escapement” was chosen for the wristwatch model collection. Note that the caliber GP09200 movement is COSC Chronometer-certified for performance and accuracy.

One of the downsides to silicon parts is the fragility of the material. Not only can silicon break during the manufacturing or assembly process, but vibrations to the movement can very easily disrupt the delicate operation of the moving parts. Look closely at the operation of this exotic mechanical movement and you’ll see the extremely thin silicon “blades” and tiny repeated movements and vibrations of the monolithic silicon escapement component. This caused challenges for the original Constant Escapement watches that Girard-Perregaux claims have been resolved with the Neo Constant Escapement. I’m happy with that news because I wanted Girard-Perregaux to use the period between the release of the older and newer generation Constant Escapement to fix some of the reliability issues with the sensitive movements. Visually, they are just as futuristic and mesmerizing to watch in operation today in 2023 as they were back in 2013.

The Girard-Perregaux caliber GP09200 manually wound movement is produced from 266 parts and operates at 3Hz with a full seven days of power reserve. The basic architecture of the movement remains the same, but there are some important differences in the Neo Constant Escapement. First is the much more elaborate and interesting shape of the bridges and the overall presentation of the movement on both the front and rear of the case. Important for legibility purposes is that the time is now indicated more traditionally using the entire face, as opposed to the original Constant Escapement, which only displayed the time via on off-centered subsidiary dial. Using the entire dial to indicate the time offers more legibility, and gives this watch a needed sporty appearance. The case is too large to be a dress watch, so Girard-Perregaux is simply being more authentic with how people will probably wear this timepiece. Also on the dial is the handy linear power reserve indicator, which is positioned next to the 9 o’clock hour marker.

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The Neo Constant Escapement watch case is different in shape and style from the original Constant Escapement, but remains beefy at 45mm wide and 14.8mm thick. Note that the original Constant Escapement watch was 48mm wide. This debut version of the Girard-Perregaux Neo Constant Escapement watch is offered in a brushed titanium case and is water-resistant to 30 meters. Over the dial is an expansive box-style AR-coated sapphire crystal. Going with the sportier theme of this luxury watch, Girard-Perregaux pairs the case with a black rubber/fabric strap -on a folding titanium deployant clasp. Wearing comfort is high given the overall case proportions.

While still very much a niche-appeal timepiece, the Girard-Perregaux Neo Constant Escapement is a superior watch in most ways as compared to the original models. Combining the more effective design (in terms of matching the futuristic theme of the movement), better wrist presence, more reliable movement, and non-inflated price, the Neo Constant Escapement is a high-luxury watch to examine closely if the design language and technology speak to you. About a decade ago the 18k white or rose gold versions of the Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement watches cost nearly $125,000 USD. Today, in more refined form and in titanium the price for the reference 93510-21-1930-5CX Girard-Perregaux Neo Constant Escapement watch is $99,600 USD. Learn more at the Girard-Perregaux website.

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