The company we know today as Girard-Perregaux has roots dating back to 1791. However, you’ll soon learn that the watchmaker has an interesting and dynamic history. Today, it is a respected brand known for its unique accomplishments.
In this guide, you will learn about Girard-Perregaux as we cover the following topics:
- The Brand’s 17th-Century Roots
- Girard-Perregaux Early History
- Advances In The 19th & 20th Centuries
- Girard-Perregaux Today
Simply use the links above to jump ahead or keep scrolling to read it all.
Girard-Perregaux’s 17th-Century Roots
The company we know today as Girard-Perregaux has roots dating back to 1791. Since it first began building watches under the direction of Jean-Francois Bautte, the brand was all about creating top-quality timepieces.
A couple of years later in 1793, he joined forces with Jacques-Dauphin Moulinie and created the corporate name of Moulinie & Bautte.
However, Bautte, broke away a couple of years later and started his own company again, located in Geneva. He brought the entire watchmaking trades together under one roof, and fast became known throughout Europe as one of the top watchmakers of his day.
After Bautte’s death in 1837, the Jean-Francoise Bautte & Cie Company was formed by his son Jacques Bautte and his son-in-law Jean-Samuel Rossel. And the brand continued to create watches.
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Girard Perregaux’s Early History
While the above may not seem relevant just yet, other pieces were still setting into place. Swiss watchmaker Constant Girard started his own company, Girard & Cie, in 1852.
Four years later, in 1856, Girard married Marie Perregaux and the first vestiges of the current name took hold, as the Constant Girard company was renamed Girard Perregaux.
It wasn’t until 1906 that the two companies, Girard Perregaux and Jean-Francoise Bautte & Cie (Constant Girard-Gallet actually bought the Bautte company) were merged and the modern Girard-Perregaux was formed. The company purchased a building in La Chaux-de-Fonds, where it is still located.
Today, the brand – owned now by the Kering Group – has forged forward in the world of innovation and invention. It has earned hundreds of patents and is regularly on the cutting edge when it comes to complicated watches including tourbillons, repeaters and sonneries and high-jeweled masterpieces.
Girard-Perregaux Advances in the 19th & 20th Centuries
As mentioned above it was in 1856 that Constant Girard changed the name of his company to from Girard & Cie to Girard Perregaux in honor of his marriage to Marie Perregaux. Constant Girard was a passionate watchmaker and was obsessed with chronometry.
In 1867, the brand entered a tourbillon watch into the Paris Universal Exhibition – and won. Unsatisfied, the brand went on to do more research and development. In 1889, it then entered its now-famed Tourbillon with three Gold Bridges into the Paris Universal Exposition, this time wining a gold medal.
It was really Girard Perregaux’s incredible advances in tourbillons for which the brand is known today. Constant Girard died in 1903 and his son, Constant Girard-Gallet took over the Manufacture.
Three years later, in 1906, he purchased the Bautte Company and merged it with Girard-Perregaux. From that time onward, the brand was a leader in the haute horology field, garnering dozens of patents and unveiling some of the most complicated watches of their day.
Throughout the 20th century, Girard-Perregaux entered new global markets and unveiled a host of important collections. Interestingly enough, in 1945, the brand unveiled the Art Deco inspired model (brands were already looking to the past for inspiration).
It then introduced the 1945 rectangular watch that was later revived and today remains a part of the brand’s collections. A decade later in 1957, the brand unveiled an ultra-thin high-performance automatic watch that led to the 1966 unveiling of the high-frequency Gyromatic that beat 36,000 vibrations per hour.
In fact, the company had recognized the need to have an in-house Research and Development team (not many brands did in the 1960’s) and this aided them in being first in a lot of developments. Girard-Perregaux even had an important hand in developing quartz technology.
Girard-Perregaux Embraces Quartz
In 1971, it presented the first quartz watch to be serially produced in Switzerland. It beat at a frequency of 32,768 Hz, which set a benchmark standard to which all quartz watches adhere.
By the 1990’s, the brand had figured out how to miniaturize its famous Tourbillon with three GoldBridges – unveiling a wristwatch size to celebrate its 200th anniversary in 1991.
In 1992, Luigi “Gino” Macaluso, a former race-car driver and avid entrepreneur took an interest in Girard-Perregaux and took over the brand.
Under his guidance, Girard-Perregaux entered into what was one of the first co-branding agreements in watchmaking, joining forces with the prestigious Ferrari brand and creating split seconds chronograph with the famed prancing horse on the dial.
That partnership lasted 10 years and witnessed the unveiling of a host of complicated and coveted watches. It was also under Macaluso’s reign that Girard-Perregaux undertook the incredible effort of developing its own manufacturing capabilities, and in 1994 unveiled new ultra-thin calibers.
Girard-Perregaux in the 21st century
The 21st century ushered in a host of important new advancements for Girard-Perregaux. In 2004, the brand unveiled its first collection dedicated especially to women.
The oval-shaped Cat’s Eye was an immediate hit, and continues to be a vital part of the brand’s collections today. That same year, the brand entered into a partnership and sponsorship with BMW Oracle Racing for the 32nd America’s Cup.
It was a great time for the brand, as it spread its wings in a host of countries around the world. That year, too, it opened its first freestanding boutique in Gstaad.
In 2006, Girard-Perregaux unveiled the Evo Tourbillon, another continuing line, and the following year, the ww.tc world timer watch that offered both time around the world and in financial centers.
It also unveiled the highly complicated Jackpot Tourbillon slot machine watch – all garnering critical acclaim. By 2008, the brand was making revolutionary headway into the world of constant force and even unveiled its Constant Escapement—developed and created entirely in house.
Ownership Transfers To Kering
Around 2008, Macaluso, who was by then the President and Chairman of the Sowind Group (which owned Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard) signed a deal with the French-based Kering Group to take over ownership in 2011.
Unfortunately, Macaluso, who also took on executive committee and board positions with Kering’s Gucci Group and Boucheron, died unexpectedly in 2010.
Kering Group took over control of Girard-Perregaux in 2011. The Group, which also owns Ulysse Nardin (among others), has put effort into continuing the brand’s innovation and progress.
Throughout the past eight years, it has focused on cleaning up the collections and the distribution globally, and on offering new and creative timepieces – such as the brand’s Neo Bridges Tourbillon.
This offshoot of the original Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges is an art-deco, almost steampunk, look that today’s collectors are loving.
Keep Learning About Girard-Perregaux
This year, in 2019, Girard-Perregaux event went so far as to offer the Neo-Bridges Tourbillon in a completely sapphire case, with sapphire crown, called the Quasar. The brand is now well poised for future growth.
To keep track of their innovations, you can peruse the Girard-Perregaux website and learn more about their collections. Otherwise, discover more brands and explore our own watchmaking guides:
- All Watch Brand Guides
- Guide To Watch Movements
- YouTube Watch Videos & Reviews
- Bespoke Unit Watch Homepage
"A master of the Tourbillon. Yet unafraid to embrace change by being the first Swiss brand to experiment with quartz. Girard Perregaux is a brand of rich designs and sophistication."Rating: 5.0★★★★★