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Charles Girardier

Having lain dormant for almost two centuries, the Charles Girardier name is back in the horological spotlight with men's and women's timepieces that are imaginative, playful but most of all entirely independent and proud of their Geneva origins.

About

Like a star shooting across the Geneva sky, Charles Girardier exerted his talent from the late eighteenth century, working quietly in his atelier in the city. The last in the Girardier line, he was by no means a prolific watchmaker: his signature appears on a rare few pocket watches. One of the most famous is on display at the Geneva Museum of Art and History. Another can be admired at the Petit Palais Museum of Fine Arts in Paris.

The former features a finely chased engraving depicting a classical scene. It frames a discreet enamel dial that is swept simply by hand-crafted hour and minute hands. It is this unique style, in which the dial becomes a canvas for the most noble decorative arts, that has inspired the revival of the Charles Girardier name. Still in Geneva, the Charles Girardier brand brings the master watchmaker's creativity back into the spotlight. Taking inspiration from an aesthetic close to that of the watches made by Charles Girardier himself, the brand gives life to timepieces for men and women in which traditional métiers d'art such as grand feu enamelling, paillonnage and engraving take pride of place.

Helping to safeguard these time-honoured crafts is an entrepreneur, Patrick Ulm, who in 2018 acquired the possibility to bring this grand name and its romantic spirit back to life. It took close to two years of technical and artistic developments for the first watches to see daylight. Charles Girardier timepieces are designed and made at an independent Manufacture in Geneva. Every component of the habillage and the in-house movement are guaranteed of Swiss origin. Given its highly limited production, the brand is destined for a clientele of knowledgeable collectors who value authenticity and singularity, both mechanical and artistic.

1759
Birth of Charles Girardier in Geneva.
1809
Charles Girardier, who signed his work "Girardier the Elder", was admitted to the corporation of Geneva master watchmakers, thus attaining the title of master watchmaker.
1839
Death of Charles Girardier. Having no descendants, his name died with him.
2018
Patrick Ulm, an independent watch entrepreneur, acquired the "Charles Girardier" brand and decided he would bring it back to life.
2020
The Charles Girardier brand unveiled its first timepieces and the first to be entered for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. The Tourbillon Signature Mystérieuse "Fleur de sel" was shortlisted in the Ladies Complication category.
Philosophy

Already in his day, Charles Girardier went against the grain of the expected artistic canon. His watches were more inspired by the technical and aesthetic codes of French horology of the mid-eighteenth century than those of his own era, which straddled the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They display the features for which watchmaking in Geneva was renowned, in particular dials in grand feu enamel as well as ornate line engraving.

The brand that carries on his name also perpetuates the free and independent spirit that gave rise to such exquisite and refined pieces. Its guiding principles are craftsmanship, authenticity and creativity. Through combinations of métiers d'art, it confirms watchmaking as a distinguished artisanal craft but also as a decorative art in its own right; one that calls upon Geneva's finest talent and, in doing so, recognises a centuries-old Swiss tradition. The delicate art of paillonnage, for example, respects the traditional method of cutting spangles from a leaf of 24k gold or pure silver just 30 microns thick: half the diameter of a human hair.

The contemporary timepieces that carry the Charles Girardier name are entirely Swiss-Made, with the sole exception of the calfskin or woven satin straps which come from a specialist manufacturer in the French Jura region. Thanks to this tight-knit and entirely integrated sourcing, customers can personalise certain elements, in one of the two current collections, for a watch that is truly individual and unique.

Collections

Tourbillon Signature Mystérieuse* "Chevrons" 41 mm

This collection, cased in 18k gold (5N red or palladium white) with a 41mm diameter, is remarkable for its tourbillon at 6 o'clock. Above it, at the noon position, sits the Mysterious Signature (patent pending) that is the hallmark of the brand. The dial in translucent grand feu enamel is proposed in three colour renditions - emerald blue, silver or anthracite grey - while horizontal chevrons, finely executed in guillochage on gold, capture the light. Applied hour markers, also in gold, are swept by two dauphine hands, while the tourbillon shows passing seconds with each of its one-minute rotations.

Tourbillon Signature Mystérieuse "Fleur de sel" 37 mm

Inside a case in 18k gold (white, 3N yellow or 5N red) measuring a delicate 37mm in diameter, this model trains the spotlight on the art of paillonnage. It comes to life on three dial executions - burgundy, glacier blue or anthracite grey -, swept by "leaf" hands and mounted on woven satin straps. On each of the three versions, the bezel is set with diamonds. The collection is made for women leading an active life, who are confident in their aesthetic choices and appreciate the rarity of an object and the subtle details that are a part of its charm. Once again, at noon, we find the Charles Girardier Mysterious Signature that takes its inspiration from the engraved balance cock on a pocket watch made by the master watchmaker's hand, more than two centuries ago.

Watches