Baselworld 2015: Introducing the Girard-Perregaux 1966 Chamber of Wonders Special Edition —Le Chambre des Merveilles. Live Pictures and Pricing.

The new Girard-Perregaux 1966 Chamber of Wonders Special Edition —Le Chambre des Merveilles— renews and transcends the tradition of the famous Cabinets of Curiosities, the forerunners to museums which emerged in renaissance Europe in the Chamber of Wonders collection. Through the honorary name, Chamber of Wonders, the brand opens a doorway into a place brimming over with amazing treasures: discoveries, secrets, fabulous stories, natural assortments and curiosities of all forms. Thanks to the talents of artisans of miniatures, who craft fine detail over a background of extraordinary materials, this Chambers of Wonders collection offers three meticulously immortalized cartographic parentheses of time in the limited space of a watch dial. As brief illustrations of the history of geographical knowledge, maps of the past are, for the civilizations that produced them, both imaginative references and incomplete scientific conceptions. Three watches, three eras, three worlds interpreted with exceptional expertise; The Pearl of Wonders, the Terrestrial Map, and The New World. Renaissance images are immortalized by Girard-Perregaux on three dials, in numbered pieces within a trio of pink gold Girard-Perregaux 1966 watches fitted with a 40 mm 18K pink gold case.

All three watches are powered by the automatic in-house calibre GP03300 composed of 205 parts and which provides a 46-hour power reserve. All three watches are available in a limited edition of 18 pieces each.

The Pearl of Wonders

The first watch in this three-piece set is the 'The Pearl of Wonders' ref. 49534-52-R04-BB60. This exceptional watch comes with a sodalite and papyrus dial centered on the Arabian peninsula. The Nile river, represented by a wide blue line, suddenly flows into the Mediterranean at an abrupt right angle. In the center, surrounded by the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf surmounted by the Indian ocean, the Arabian Peninsula occupies a semicircle. Other noticeable elements are the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean and, in the distance, India, Sindh and China. To render such a monument of ancient history, what could be more appropriate than the sodalite stone with its isometric structure, composed of silica-poor minerals. Its characteristic blue color and its open crystalline structure are incentives to plumb the depths of knowledge further.

This sodalite stone, known for its hardness, comes from a block from which a disk 0.70 mm high is cut and polished manually. It is meticulously carved and engraved by hand. It takes almost 4 hours of scalpel work for it to house the fragmented mosaic of a papyrus, 0.25 mm thick. Once locked between two steel plates, to ensure that its surface is perfectly flat, the parchment, like an unexpected territory of expression, can accommodate the talent of a miniature painter who, for 28 hours, reproduced the contours of the ancient map. Then a coat of lacquer covers the work of art with a thin protective and stabilizing veil. Approximately 50 hours of patience are needed before it is possible to admire The Pearls of Wonders. 

The Terrestrial Map

The second timepiece 'The Terrestrial Map' ref. 49534-52-R05-BB60 centers on an old Chinese map selected by Girard-Perregaux and inspired by the work of Italian Jesuit, Matteo Ricci. A theologian, philosopher, mathematician, cosmologist and astronomer, this priest took part in his congregation's missions in Asia. Landing in Macao in 1582, he spent the rest of his life in China, sharing his knowledge with scholars and officials at the point of becoming one of the first Westerners allowed within the walls of the Forbidden City. Under the Ming dynasty, he translated the state of global geographical knowledge for his hosts by repositioning China as the starting point. For this rare piece, Girard-Perregaux has opted for the consistent purity of a white jade stone, with translucent veins giving the perception of depth.

For each dial, from a block of this material a thin sculpted disk needs to be extracted which, after careful manual polishing, reaches its ideal thickness of 0.70 mm and has a perfectly flat surface. This is followed by 17 hours of meticulous craftsmanship of an experienced miniature painter, using natural India ink mixed with a special binder. There is no room for hesitation since the ink dries very fast. The visible side of the material receives confident and talented strokes, contrasting light and dark shades, religiously applied to remain faithful to the original. Little by little, right down to the accuracy of the gray shades and to the tiny coastal and territorial curves, the famous globe and its historical reliefs emerge.

The New World

'The New World' ref. 49534-52-R05-BB60 centers its dial on the works of Sebastian Münster. From the beginnings of modern cartography, 142 drawings of maps are attributed to Sebastian Münster (1488-1552), a German scholar who moved to Basel following his conversion to Protestantism. His work, 'Novus Orbis' —new world—, resembled an encouragement to exploratory voyages, was included in his major work, Cosmographia Universalis, a richly illustrated and detailed cartographic collection. Girard-Perregaux has chosen to honor the memory of this man, considered to be one of the major references of modern cartography. The most colorful of the maps contained in La Chambre des Merveilles, it displays creative fields populated with fragments organized into a mosaic. It is made with genuine stone marquetry, blending the tones of blue and pink aventurine, calcite and Canadian nephrite.

It takes about 95 hours to make a single dial. The finely selected stones are carved into mini-disks which, at the end of a manual polishing operation, reach 0.50 mm. The cutting and assembly of these micro-stones require extraordinary meticulousness, patience and artistry. The technique gives the impression that the land on the map floats, reinforced by the artist's micro-painting in six different tones.

All three watches are fitted with black alligator straps with 18K pink gold pin buckles.

Sticker Price $143,550 USD per three-piece set. For more info on Girard-Perregaux click here.