In the pantheon of revered Swiss watchmakers, Girard-Perregaux is one of the gods. It can trace its history back to 1791, when Jean-Francois Bautte founded it in Geneva. His vision was to unite all the craftsmen needed to take a watch from the design phase to completion, so the company could control every step.
Girard-Perregaux is the originator of some of the standard innovations of modern watchmaking. In the 1880s, they produced wristwatches for officers of Kaiser Wilhelm I's navy, the world's first commercial production of these items. In 1965 they designed a watch movement capable of 36,000 beats per hour, now the standard for all fine timepieces. Two years later, they were awarded the Centenary Award of the Astronomical Observatory de Neuchatel for their contributions to watchmaking.
One of the icons for which Girard-Perregaux is known is the Tourbillon with Three Bridges. In this model, a skeletized dial reveals a tourbillon behind three gold bars, which are both functioning pieces of the mechanism and design elements. The movement of this timepiece is so precise that it was awarded a gold medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1889. The design, long out of production, was revived in 1980.
The revival of classic designs has proven successful for Girard-Perregaux on more than one occasion. Their popular Vintage 1945 line is the rebirth of an art deco design, while the Girard-Perregaux 1966 line revisits a year when the firm dazzled the watchmaking world by winning an impressive list of awards.