In a time of so much distress, it’s nice to be able to turn to one thing that can still provide some escapism from the current state of the world. In today’s venture, we examine Girard-Perregaux’s collection of three 1966 watches that have the new “Orion” moniker.
The collection derives its name from the Orion constellation, named for the Greek mythological hunter. The reason being that each watch features an aventurine dial which takes on the appearance of a starry night sky, despite the material’s terrestrial origins. Aventurine has its roots in Murano, Italy, an island located within the city of Venice. Murano is also the home of the well-known material “Murano glass”, and the story goes that one of the Murano glassmakers accidentally added copper to the usual mix. The result would lead to some of the most beautiful watch dials of all time. It’s thought that the name “aventurine” was given to the material due to the Italian description of the discovery which was called “a ventura” or “by chance”. The purplish aventurine that we’re used to seeing in watchmaking is still mainly produced in its ancestral home.
The three new watches were released in January of this year; all three are done in different materials: pink gold, stainless steel, and DLC-coated stainless steel. Both the pink gold and stainless steel versions come with a bluish-purple aventurine dial, while the DLC-treated version has a black aventurine one. All cases are made to a diameter of 40mm, have a thickness of 9.4mm, and are rated to 100ft in water. Each watch comes with an alligator strap that matches the colour of aventurine used. The movement used is Girard-Perregaux’s GP03300-0132, which has a 46-hour power reserve and beats at 28,800 vph.
What Girard-Perregaux has done here is really great, because it opens up a new category of watches. Looking at the current state of aventurine dial use in men’s watches, the first thing that comes to mind is Arnold and Son’s HM Perpetual Moon Aventurine. While this is one of my favorite watches, it’s at a completely different price point. Secondly, we turn to Omega’s use of aventurine in their Speedmaster line. While they’ve discontinued the original stainless steel Speedmaster with aventurine dial, they’ve since introduced a coloured ceramic case model. While the steel version was easier to use for more formal occasions, the problem with both of them is that they both still fit squarely in the sports watch category. That’s where Girard-Perregaux’s lineup fits in. They’ve crafted three new watches that are mostly dress watches, yet are still able to be worn with an everyday outfit if needed. Similar at first glance to something like a Saxonia, Traditionelle, Calatrava, or Villeret, the 1966 takes the same general look, but adds the specialness of an aventurine dial and retains the everyday wearability of a 40mm case size. They’ve done this while keeping the price of both non-gold versions under $10,000, allowing them to be competitive for many purchasers who would otherwise look to more commonplace offerings like the Rolex Datejust 41. Without any hesitation, I can say that this is a winning release for Girard-Perregaux.
The stainless steel version is priced at 8,700 CHF, the DLC-coated steel version at 9,500 CHF, and the pink gold version at 17,900 CHF. All prices are inclusive of Switzerland’s 8.00% sales tax.