Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar Ref. 49547-52-131-BB60

The Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar Ref. 49547-52-131-BB60, as the name attests, is equipped with a perpetual calendar, a complication which makes allowance for the differing number of days in each month which, amazingly, always displays the correct date and month, even in leap years. However, where this particular timepiece excels is by imparting an array of functions in a sublimely succinct and user-friendly manner. Angus Davies gets ‘hands-on’ with this timepiece from the historical maison based in the watchmaking heartland of La Chaux-de-Fonds.

This detailed review of the Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar Ref. 49547-52-131-BB60 includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Image of Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar - released at Baselworld 2016

I am always bemused by the way some people take a comparatively simple concept and make it unnecessarily complicated. Life is already sufficiently challenging without needlessly muddying the waters with the extraneous.

Conversely, when a complex matter is skilfully simplified and the essential is successfully separated from the inconsequential, unbridled praise and plaudits are duly deserved.This latter scenario applies to the Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar, launched earlier this year at Baselworld 2016.

The perpetual calendar complication takes into account the number of days in a month when displaying the date and month irrespective of whether the month contains 28, 29, 30 or 31 days. The complication even makes allowance for leap years. Assuming the mainspring is kept wound, the date display will only necessitate adjustment in a century year, which is not a leap year despite being divisible by four, e.g. 2000, 2100, 2200, 2300. Clearly such profound mechanical intelligence requires much horological creativity and knowledge.

The dials of some perpetual calendars can appear excessively complicated and busy. However, this could not be said of the Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar which, despite indicating the hours, minutes, seconds, day, date, month and featuring a leap-year indicator, conveys information in a simple, lucid and uncluttered manner. It is the rare capacity of this watch to impart an array of functions with impressive brevity and style which recently led me to appraise its form at close quarters.

The dial

Often perpetual calendars display information on circular subdials and, in some cases, also feature a moon-phase indication. While I like several watches which adopt this style, I particularly adore the Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar because it doesn’t subscribe to this convention. Moreover, whilst I am drawn to timepieces which sport dials imbued with symmetry, it is the eccentric dial layout of this watch which I find particularly endearing.

Image of Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar - released at Baselworld 2016

The golden leaf-shaped hour and minute hands evince a traditional, classical and conservative character. Indeed, they are the most conventional aspect of the dial design. The elongated central sweep seconds hand features a prominent lozenge-shaped counterweight and circumscribes the dial with a notable air of finesse.

Slim, applied rectangular golden hour markers are presented at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock with the intervening hours denoted with lithe, black, printed lines. The lengthy profile of the hour markers grants a sense of elegance which proves most becoming and is a trait ubiquitously found on this Girard-Perregaux model.

Positioned between 1 and 2 o’clock is a large sunken subdial which proclaims the date with stylish aplomb. I found the use of red text for ’31’ delivered a tasteful dose of cheer to the dial without impairing ease of interpretation.

An arc-shaped aperture, positioned between 5 and 7 o’clock, reveals the prevailing month in a modern font, sans serifs. This information is enunciated with peerless clarity. Residing above the month indication is a small, round display. A series of numbers 1 – 3, are proclaimed with slender numerals, while the leap year is indicated with a golden pearl.

At 9 o’clock, a recessed subdial, free of snailing, displays the current date using a black hand equipped with a crescent-shaped counterweight.

The maison’s nomenclature and year of foundation are subtly printed on the dial in black text.  Every element of the dial appears discreet and cultured.

The case

The Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar is delivered in an 18-carat pink gold case. Each surface is presented in cheerful, polished glory. On many watches there is a harmonious interplay of both polished and satin brushed surfaces, with the latter tempering the exuberance of the former. 

Image of Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar - released at Baselworld 2016

The case construction is complex. The caseband is curved, which proves more costly to produce than straight-sided vertical flanks and the bezel is steeply angled and fuses with the caseband in virtually seamless union. The lugs exhibit pronounced curving lines, their arcing profile draws the strap close to the caseband and encourages the sumptuous black, alligator leather strap to eagerly encircle the wrist. Indeed, it is these traits, together with the reserved size of the watch, 41mm in diameter, which makes this timepiece suitable for a broad array of different wrist sizes.

Girard-Perregaux is a Manufacture of esteemed standing and therefore it should come as no surprise that the self-winding movement within this timepiece is visible via an exhibition caseback.

The movement

The automatic Calibre GP03300-0096 is a derivative of the maison’s in-house GP03300 base movement. The balance wheel oscillates with a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the movement has a power reserve of 46 hours.

Image of Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar - released at Baselworld 2016

Ever since Girard-Perregaux was founded in 1791, the company’s products have been synonymous with high quality and, more specifically, exalted movement finishing. The Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar upholds this reputation. The oscillating mass and various bridges are decorated with Côtes de Genève motif, the mainplate is adorned with beautifully formed perlage and the screws are blued, subscribing to age-old watchmaking tradition. There is no doubt about it this is a fine looking watch movement which deserves to be viewed slowly and savoured.

Closing remarks

The Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar is a multi-talented performer. The dial is stylish and achingly gorgeous with its idiosyncratic, off-centre layout. The 18-carat pink gold case is sumptuous with its curving sides and neat lugs granting much eye-appeal. The Manufacture movement is executed to a magnificent standard and reaffirms, not that it is needed, why Girard-Perregaux is considered a fine practitioner of haute horlogerie.

However, the single most impressive aspect of this watch is that it presents an extensive array of functions in a concise and simple to interpret form; nothing appears congested and everything is positioned with sufficient room to confer matchless legibility. Sometimes, such impressive functionality is delivered at the expense of flamboyance but that is not the case in this instance. The Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar brims with elegance, flair and a spellbinding beauty few can deny.

A perpetual calendar may well be a convoluted horological complication, but in creating the 1966 Perpetual Calendar, Girard-Perregaux has demonstrated that complexity can be simplified and delivered in a stylish, highly user-friendly form.

Technical specification

  • Model: Girard-Perregaux 1966 Perpetual Calendar
  • Reference: 49547-52-131-BB60
  • Case: 18-carat pink gold; diameter 41mm; sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds and leap year indication with day, date and month displays
  • Movement: Calibre GP03300-0096, Self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz) power reserve minimum 46 hours.
  • Strap: Black alligator leather strap presented with a 18-carat pink gold folding buckle

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