Some of them build castles in the air, and some of them, bridges. It must be wonderful to feel inspired, and it’s even better when your muse is Aston Martin, the storied British marque founded 110 years ago with a mission statement that has remained unblemished for more than a century, to build some of the most advanced and most exquisite cars on the road.
A perfect match, then, for Girard-Perregaux. Colabs are hot across the luxury lifestyle landscape and when two like-minded brands meet to stir up some creative juices together the results are often, at the very least, effective in a marketing sense, if not entirely authentic.
Since 1791 Girard-Perregaux has been carving its own way up in the Swiss Jura mountains, innovating with house signatures such as the iconic octagonal Laureato bezel and the ‘Three Gold Bridges’ Tourbillon, and this year for the sixth biennial Dubai Watch Week Girard-Perregaux really knocked it out of the park with this release, the Neo Bridges Aston Martin Edition. Considering the two only began their partnership in 2021 and are already launching their fifth co-branded timepiece, that’s an extraordinary time in which to design, develop and produce one of the most exquisite watches of the year.
So what’s so special about the latest addition to the Neo Bridges lineup? The Kurator reached out to Girard-Perregaux Chief Product Marketing Officer Clémence Dubois to find out how the two teams of designers from the automotive and watch industries put their vast differences in scale aside and worked together to reimagine a concept that was actually invented by company founder Constant Girard in 1867.
“For the first time,” explains Dubois, “the bridge was not only a functional component of the movement - holding the different components to the main plate together - but a design element.” Back then the three parallel bridges revolutionised the way the movement was seen and appreciated, and today this stunning complication continues to evolve.
“This foundation has brought us to explore, rethink and reinterpret this very concept, pushing the boundaries in terms of shape, size and finishing to reveal the beauty of our in-house manufacture movements. The Neo Bridges Aston Martin Edition uses ‘neo’ shaped bridges with a very complex three-dimensional structure that have been executed in green for the first time. The inspiration of the iridescent green treatment used on the bridges comes from Aston Martin and gives different green and blue hues to the oldest mechanical signature within the industry,” says Dubois.
Taking inspiration from Aston Martin’s flagship model, the DB12 Super Tourer, the watch blends beauty and technology with cutting-edge materials such as titanium for the lightweight 45mm case and pieces of the mechanism mimicking the intricate details of the braking system behind an Aston Martin’s spoked wheels. There’s no mistaking this collaboration for a badge-engineering exercise. As Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Girard-Perregaux puts it: “This was not merely a case of putting Aston Martin’s name on one of our watches.”
In fact Aston Martin’s in-house designers not only fussed over details like the green (a colour forever associated with the carmaker) stitching of the black rubber strap, but actually played an active role in the entire concept of the new watch, even designing parts of the movement itself.
“Working with an automotive partner when designing a watch is challenging while bringing other perspectives,” explains Dubois. “The main difficulty lies in the fact that our products have two very different scales, and thus miniaturization is always something we spent a lot of time on to achieve the desired results. In the case of the Neo Bridges Aston Martin Edition, the Aston Martin design team went as far as designing components in the movement. They not only had to work on our scale but also take into consideration the technical specifications required for the movement to work and keep the symmetry of the mechanism which is part of the Girard-Perregaux DNA.”
With more than 300 years of combined heritage behind this piece, the Girard-Perregaux Neo Bridges Aston Martin Edition was always sure to be a compelling result, even if it’s destined to be such a rare sight with just 250 examples to be made, but the crucial ingredient here is the substance, the integrity of a watch truly designed and developed by two sets of seemingly contrasting creative forces - it turns out scale is not a problem as long as you both dream big.