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Review: Girard Perregaux Three Bridges Neo Tourbillon

There’s plenty of obvious choices to purchase when it comes to buying expensive watches, but what if you don’t want the obvious choice? What if you want something cooler, less mainstream? Then how about this, the Girard Perregaux Three Bridges Neo Tourbillon.


Since 1868, Girard Perregaux has used the Three Bridges style in its watches to bring a point of differentiation to the brand. Each bridge is allocated to a specific role, to create a traffic light system of parts suspended by matching horizontal supports. At the top is the power for the watch, the mainspring barrel. Traditionally that was hand wound, but here with the Neo Three Bridges it gets an automatic winding micro rotor as well.

The mainspring barrel coils up tight to store energy to keep the watch running, which it delivers through the gear train to the next bridge, which supports the centre wheel. The centre wheel rotates once every hour, and directly drives the minute hand. The motion works, on the Neo Three Bridges hidden on the back, allows the hour hand to sit astride the same bridge.

And then the last bridge, at the end of the gear train, is the escapement, which has found itself in the highest esteem for over a century in the Three Bridges as a tourbillon. The tourbillon combines the escapement—the balance wheel, pallet fork and escape wheel—within a single cage, which is continuously rotated so gravity affects it equally from all angles.

Granted, the tourbillon is a Breguet invention and not a Girard Perregaux one, but nevertheless it was a prominent mainstay of all high-accuracy watches, especially those entered into the chronometer trials, a competition between watchmakers to produce the most accurate watches possible.

Typically in a watch, the gear train and escapement in particular form a curved shape around the watch, making for a fussy, asymmetric design, but with the Three Bridges extra care has been taken to provide a visually pleasing approach to displaying the time.

The classic Three Bridges watches kept the architecture hidden behind the case back, but here with the Neo Three Bridges, the dial and movement are combined to allow both to be seen at once. To further improve this view and keep it clean and striking, intermediate gears such as the crown and ratchet wheel, motion works and fourth wheel, have all relegated to the back.

That leaves just the most important—and pleasing—elements left up front, each suspended by the three bridges as they have been for almost 150 years. But with the Neo Three Bridges, as the name suggests, the approach to this classical watchmaking mainstay has been far more contemporary to meet the needs of a modern audience. Let’s take a look at see how that’s been achieved.


Starting with the case, this is DLC-coated titanium 45mm across and 14.5mm thick. The Neo Three Bridges was first presented in rose gold, making this a far lighter alternative. It’s a simple case with no overtly elaborate finishing, however there are some elements that demonstrate impressive technical ability, even if they are very subtle.

The first is the case middle, which bulges out like it’s been inflated. This makes the intersection between it and the lugs a much harder detail to accomplish, especially with the crisp transition as you see here. It appears this detail has been created by very precisely producing the components separately with an incredibly fine tolerance at the mating point.

The second detail is the crystal, which would ordinarily meet a flat surface. Here, the case actually sinks down top and bottom so there’s more crystal on show, reminiscent of the Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX 7 Chronograph when the crystal was depressed to access the chronograph. Ironically, it’s now Girard Perregaux who sponsor Aston Martin.

The interior of the watch follows the same industrially stark finish of the exterior, with the usually highly finished three bridges milled from titanium and finished with a blasted medium. It’s not particularly high-end, as we’re used to with Girard Perregaux, but that all serves a purpose.

To contrast the calibre 9400’s brutalist foundation is the geartrain of the watch itself, which is all finished to the highest level and fashioned with the traditional style of Girard Perregaux. The dichotomy between the two is what gives this watch its character, the gritty case and bridges framing the key components in a clearer way than previous models.

The wheels are brushed and bevelled, with the bevels polished to a mirror shine—especially the centre wheel, whose prime position upfront demands the highest level of attention to detail. This kind of work goes above and beyond what’s expected from the likes of Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet.

This attention to detail continues with the ratchet wheel, which has a double sprung system that again takes inspiration from the golden years of the high-end pocket watch. There’s no basic click spring here. The rotor weight is platinum of course, giving its small size greater mass to keep the sixty hours of power reserve topped up.

The mainspring barrel and hands are skeletonised, contrasting in rose gold, but really all eyes fall onto the tourbillon at six o’clock on the third bridge. Of the 245 components of the calibre 9400, it makes up 80, and despite its incredibly fragile-looking construction, with that beautifully slender tourbillon cage, it gets the finest treatment of all. There’s more polished bevels, tiny blued screws clamping the cage together and a design that includes internal polished angles as well.

Altogether it’s an unexpected fusion of past and present, and a watch that’s not only limited in number by the incredible work that goes into achieving it, but also by the nature of its leftfield approach. These watches don’t get sold in any kind of volume at all, making them an incredibly rare sight anywhere in the world.

This has a number of distinct advantages. Not only does that make it a choice for collectors looking to furnish their wrists with something cool and unusual, but also from a pre-owned perspective there’s a huge saving to be had. Brand new, this watch was asking somewhere towards £125,000, an enormous sum that’s entirely expected for this kind high level watchmaking. Used, however, and it’s closer to £50,000, almost a third of the original price. That’s what a platinum Day-Date costs. Which is cooler? The answer to that is always the one with the tourbillon.

What do you think of the Girard Perregaux Three Bridges Neo Tourbillon? Is it a watch you’d consider over more mainstream choices?

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