Girard-Perregaux Mixes the Contemporary and the Classic with the new Free Bridge Meteorite

I don’t think I would be wrong in saying that Girard-Perregaux doesn’t get much attention these days. The brand seems to pop up on the radar every so often, but — at least in the circles of obsessives I travel in — their name seems to resist coming up in discussion, and I have only very rarely seen modern GPs in the wild.

That’s a shame because Girard-Perregaux continues to put out fantastic pieces and the release of the Girard-Perregaux Free Bridge Meteorite is just the latest example of how GP has continued to strike a rare balance between history and modernity.

Girard-Perregaux has been around for a very long time, with its lineage (though not its name) reaching back as far as 1791. Less than a century later, Constant Girard, who would marry Marie Perregaux leading us to the now-familiar name, had developed what would become the hallmark of the brand; a symmetrical three-bridge design that would eventually lead to the creation of La Esmerelda in 1889. That pocket watch featured three beautifully finished gold bridges and was recognized with a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition.

Despite its distinctly 21st century look, the Bridge collection, to which the Free Bridge Meteorite belongs, is inspired by and pulls from that history — especially by that very special 19th century watch and those three gold bridges. Where La Esmerelda showed off its bridges thanks to a hunter caseback, the Free Bridge Meteorite wears its bridge (it only sports one of the arrow-shaped “Neo” bridges) proudly on its dial.

Well, I say dial, but I probably would be more correct in using the term “dial-side” because there really isn’t much dial to speak of. The Free Bridge Meteorite’s dial elements are restricted to a floating chapter ring with suspended indices around the perimeter of the watch. The hands are mounted at the center, as one might expect, but beyond those concessions to practicality, we are left with an open expanse through which to see the caliber GP01800-2085.

And it is a stunner. The Free Bridge may be the entry point into the Bridges collection, but it most definitely pulls from the same well as its older brothers. Namely, by flipping a traditional movement architecture on its head, it gives you access to all the fun and interesting bits of a watch movement on the front and leaves all the boring bits to the caseback (though the rhodium plated Côtes de Genève on the reverse of the movement are nothing to sneeze at in and of themselves).

The Free Bridge has been around for a few years now but hasn’t gotten much love since its introduction in 2020. That’s all well and good; the two existing models have been a great option to carry us through the last three and a half years, but in a collection that also features watches made of blue sapphire and grade 5 titanium selected by Aston Martin, they have seemed a bit staid.

Today, the Free Bridge gets a cosmic upgrade in the form of meteorite plates fitted to the movement. It may seem like a relatively minor change, but in practice, the meteorite’s textured look and color bring an exciting dynamism to the Free Bridge. All in all, this feels like the most cohesive execution we have yet seen of the Free Bridge, and one I would hope brings more eyes to the table.

Having spent some brief time with the previous versions of the Free Bridge, I will say that this watch isn’t for everyone. It is big and wears broadly across the wrist. The stainless steel case measures 44mm across and wears like it is every millimeter of that size. That said, the Free Bridge is thin, at just 12.2mm.

The Girard-Perregaux Free Bridge Meteorite will be available beginning in March at a retail price of $25,700. Girard-Perregaux

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A native New Englander now based in Philadelphia, Griffin has been a passionate watch enthusiast since the age of 13, when he was given a 1947 Hamilton Norman as a birthday gift by his godfather. Well over a decade later, Griffin continues to marvel and obsess about all things watches, while also cultivating lifelong love affairs with music, film, photography, cooking, and making.