Girard Perregaux was derived from the marriage of Constant Girard Gallet and Marie Perregaux, who were both from a long line of watchmakers in Switzerland. However, the first true GP watches were made well before Constant and Marie came to own the business. In 1791 a watch company was established by Jean-Francois Bautte, who passed the business to his sons in 1837. They in turn sold the business to Felipe Hecht, who passed it on to his son, who then sold it to Gallet.
Girard Perregaux soon established itself among the top watch makers in the country and won many awards and prizes for their superlative watches. They were one of the first watch manufacturers to make a wrist watch, when most other manufacturers were still making pocket watches, Gerard Perregaux was setting the trend, something they continued to do throughout the life of the company.
Their first wrist watches were for the German Army, more specifically for German Officers. They attached the watches to the wrist by using a chain, rather than a strap. They could also be used as pocket watches if required. This foray into wrist watches was probably a little too early as few were made after this time due to a perception that wrist watches were not as accurate or fashionable as pocket watches.
Around 1930 the company was taken over by another watch making genius, Otto Graef, who was well established in horological circles and who had already presented several exceptional watches to the market. He took over the company determined that Girard Perregaux would remain a quality watchmaker for many years to come.
Under Graef's ownership the company flourished, making many high quality movements that surprised and delighted the general public, including the World's first fast-train watch movement. Beating at 36,000 times per hour, the movement was able to maintain extremely accurate time and it soon became the standard by which all watches were judged.
Not all Gerard Perregaux' watches are mechanical. GP is one of the few top quality watch makers that also made quartz models. As usual, they set the standard for quartz watches early on with their fast-train quartz movement, beating at 32,768 beats per hour. This became the standard quartz watches.
One of their more spectacular achievements of Girard Perregaux was the production of a wrist watch three-bridge tourbillion in 1991. Based on an old design the company miniaturized the movement and redesigned the watch completely in-house, proving that they had the capacity and skills to perfect any movement. To my knowledge only 20 of these have been made. Following on from this they have made many ultra-thin movements, the calibers 3000 and 3100.
Today, with annual sales of over $100m, it could be said that Gerard Perregaux has the financial and technical attributes to enable it to survive any downturn in the market.
For the collector, there just so many great watches from this great watch maker. Standouts are classics like the 'Olimpico', the 'Giromatic', the 'Seahawk' (the most popular of all the military watches it made), to the more modern classics like the 'Richville', 'Cat's eye' or any Ladies watch - the choice is yours.
Today's U.S. Auctions of Sale Items on eBay.