There has been some recent discussions here in the forum on the Constant Escapement and claims on by whom it was developed as well as speculations that the CE is not going to be further developed.
Let me be clear, I will not participate in any future speculations as the future by nature is not determined and there are always events that can change even the most solid plans. But as far as plans are concerned, GP does plan a future for the CE and there are developments ongoing. Whether we will already see something new at SIHH 2019 is to be seen and back to the “future” discussion.
But let’s go back in time.
The idea of a Constant Escapement using the inherent tension of a bent sheet/string is the brainchild of Nicolas Déhon. He had that idea when he was working for Rolex and a study was started but was soon stopped. When Nicolas Déhon joined GP he proposed the idea again to Gino Macaluso. Gino saw the potential in the idea and gave Nicolas the go ahead for an R&D project to work on his CE idea. That was around back in the year 2000. It took around 8 years of development for the first ticking prototype in 2008. During that time, Nicolas solely worked on that R&D project.
There were a total of 6 patents filed in Switzerland and it is a common rule that a patent bears the name of the inventor (Nicolas Déhon) and the company (Girard-Perregaux).
In 2013 production of the first series of the Constant Escapement started. I have personally been to the R&D Labs and witnessed some of the work. Not only required Silicon as a new material (it is now used by a number of Maisons) new machinery and processes, the Constant Escapement also required exclusive development of new tool. For example, traditional watches are regulated with microphones, for the CE this was not working, it required an optical tool to be developed for that.
This GP Constant Escapement mechanism is not an evolution/innovation but rather a true invention/revolution that was not attempted before, hence it is a patented invention. It touches and improves the 4 fundamentals of mechanical watchmaking:
I guess the GP Constant Escapement mechanism is at a level of invention as maybe the new Zenith monoblock oscillator, which one you find more visually pleasing and fascinating to watch, I leave up to you. I know which one I would pick.
At the end, I do want to come back to the “future” without speculating about it. As of today, Nicolas Déhon is working again on the CE mechanism. There are a number of goals GP wants to achieve and I feel confident that this will bring us new and exciting Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement watches in the future.
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