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hand-made

November 20 2006 at 11:47 PM

PeterCDE  (Login pc01)

G'day,

here´s an impression which i find a bit telling.
GP timepieces require a lot of manual labour; it´s not just that all are assembled by hand, but decorated and finished either. A lot of this work goes into the movement, which is the "heart" of the watch and accounts for much of the fascination of a mechanical timepiece.

In GP´s tourbillon, a meticulous hand-polishing is applied.
This is not an easy task, which is in the nature of the movements. The gold bridges are likewise wide part and achieving a perfectly plain (or "mirror") polishing requires a lot of skills and efforts. All polishing is done by hand, with abbrasive material placed on a wooded pad.
And then, you need some very sensitive hands; one stroke too much or a disturbing particle in the abbrasive and you will end up with tiny scratches instead of a perfectly smooth surface. The larger the part is, the higher the risks of leaving smallest marks, which can be overcome only by starting the whole procedure again.
It is a highly specialized work and in fact, becoming a "polisseur" is a job which requires a comparable education to watchmakers.
In terms of the GP tourbillons, one more challenge is added by the material; solid gold is a soft material, which corresponds different to abbrasives and is told to be more difficult to polish than harder materials like steel.

So it really needs a skilled hands, such as the hands of Claudia in GP´s Haute Horlogerie department:



To be exact, the bridges are actually polished 5 times!
Each time a finer abbrasive is being used, which ultimately leads to the very special shine the gold bridges are so known for. All is done by hand of course, with not a small risk of putting in a scratch somewhere on the way. And if this happens, Claudia needs to start all over again.

Doing things this way is quite unusual.
Girard-Perregaux certainly could do them different, but it just wouldn´t be a GP watch then. For GP, it´s about traditions and skills, which i think sets them apart from others.
Even if this rules out to make large batches of industrially produced tourbillons with more affordable price tags (or steel cases); but then, true excellence does have it´s price.

Greetings from Germany,

Peter

 
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