Gold Dust: the Girard-Perregaux Classique Elegance Ref. 49520
With Girard-Perregaux making not only its movements, but also cases, bracelets and buckles in-house, the Classique Elegance is a truly thoroughbred watch
What I want to write about is a watch made in the early 2000s, a fairly simple watch to be honest, but one which really deserves a second look: the Girard-Perregaux Classique Elegance Ref. 49520.
(Simple shapes, but oh so emotional (and a fine use of surface textures too!)))
When I was a PhD student in Zurich this was one morning nailed my eyes squarely on the screen: its vivid impression that still retains a notion of refined elegance, the elaborate sculptured 38mm red gold case (with a thickness of only 8mm high, lugs excluded) with finished aptly selected to emphasise dynamics, the large 7mm crown, an eggshell textured (and coloured) dial with bold indices at 6, 9 and 12 o’clock, golden hands and a heat-blued small seconds at 9 o’clock (note I was a student and did not have the funds to go for a small complication, but see below!).
What makes above to outstanding is the fact that Girard-Perregaux is a highly verticalised manufacture and has capabilities to produce cases, bracelets and buckles under its roof as well. So, it comes to no surprise that even the standard (tang) buckle surprised me when I first used it: This well-made piece, also carrying the G-P logo, features recessed holes for the springbars that fix the (fantastic honey-brown alligator) Camille Fournet strap.
(A manufactory buckle!)
The result is that the strap is bent to a much lesser extent than with other buckles. The longevity of the strap will probably increase, and my wallet will be happy…
The movement was in-house (of course!) and this was anything but normal those days: the respected GP Cal. 3300, beating at today’s rather standard 28800 bph (=4Hz), which is, together with the generous power reserve of 50h, good for a great accuracy. I’ve not measured it, but within 1 week I didn’t had to adjust the time.
The movement shows a care to the detail that prove the watchmaking capability of the house of Girard-Perregaux. Despite a fine (but not top notch) finishing it also delights the connoisseur with mechanical delicacies: an elaborated hand setting mechanism which allows for precise control during time-setting, a highly efficient automatic winding system (unidirectional) and a modern, well executed escapement with Nivarox 1 hairspring which is laser-welded on a Glucydur balance and which can be adjusted using the Spirofin micro regulator:
The Girard-Perregaux Classique Elegance Ref. 49520 always represented a lot of value as it carries the ‘in-house’ label with a rarely seen justification – particularly given the prices today. For those who wanted to invest a bit more GP had you covered with the ‘big sister’, the slightly larger (40mm case) Classique Elegance Big Date Moon Ref. 49530: with the brands proprietary seamless large date window:
If I were in the position to criticise Girard-Perregaux about these watches, I could mention some minor points, which are all of course relative and subjective. The case has some sharp edges on the back (which one does not sense while wearing this watch). The finish of the movement could be a bit more elaborate; I’m especially missing the polished anglaged edges and the slots of the blued screws should also be blue. I’d also like to have the front glass anti-reflective coated on both sides, and last but not least I’d prefer a shorter strap (the side with the holes is too long for my wrist).
All in all, these ‘complaints’ are not really severe. The strap is my personal problem, and I’m happy that Girard-Perregaux invested the money in the watch and not in accessories. But the front crystal and the finish remain two points a manufacture should think about.
At the end of the day, both Girard-Perregaux Classique Elegance seems to be true gems for me: Genuine in-house products (even the case and the buckle are made by the manufacture!). A very carefully designed and constructed case with many lovely detail solutions houses an excellent manufacture movement, which altogether make this watch one of the most consequently and consistently conceived watches I’ve seen. Everything seems to fit the overall package; I cannot detect many weird shortcuts taken at one point to save money. Every detail of this watch which seems to meet the same stringency of construction, quality and execution.
This in-house made watch (in the best sense of the word!) shows that Girard-Perregaux’s heart for watchmaking art beats not only for their impressive Tourbillons sous Trois Ponts d’Or or their Opera pieces: Really, a thoroughbred watch, which carries her name with pride.
Best of all: it did age very well – the design has been proven a classic, the watch would perfectly muster as a contemporary piece!