Charles Girardier expands the discreet realm of its exquisite watchmaking: The visually arresting Magic 8 collection expresses the Geneva maison’s poly-artistic savoir faire with a 41mm case in polished titanium and choice of en camaïeu cobalt blue or emerald green dial in the tradition of grand feu enamelling.
The brand’s mastery of motion, and of the science behind it, is evinced in the kinetic composition that gives the collection its name. Horological engineering prowess being the hallmark of the spiritual heirs of Charles Girardier L’Aîné, two asymmetrical hands deconstruct and reconstruct the number 8 as if in an infinite loop, driven by a calibre with a peripheral rotor. Magic 8 – a phantasmagorical riff on the theme of infinity and eternal movement.
In 2020, Charles Girardier introduced the ‘1809’ collection: Within the elegant and refined surrounds of 18K white or rose gold cases measuring 37 or 41 mm, the brand that honours the legacy of Charles Girardier l’Aîné revealed an unimagined expertise in dials.
This first step onto the watchmaking scene earned the brand an award at the GPHG 2020 in the Ladies’ Complication category. Jewel-set or understated, the dials of these watches for appreciators of creative contemporary Haute Horlogerie deserved particular attention for their grand feu, paillonné and flinqué enamelling, executed to the highest standards of one of Geneva’s most traditional watchmaking arts.
The ‘1809’ collection inaugurated a new type of complication as well. Charles Girardier had engineered a discreet – and patented – mechanism into the peripheral-winding calibre with flying tourbillon, creating the now famous Signature Mystérieuse, a singular dial automaton that would prefigure that of the Magic 8 collection.
Magic 8 expresses all the cues of Charles Girardier‘s identity with a new tonality. A deep connection with high watchmaking, the meticulous finishing, this time housed in a round, 41mm case, with short, restrained lugs and a cambered bezel. Inside, a complication of a new kind, one that shares a theatrical sense of rotation with the Signature Mystérieuse, awaits.
A kinetic composition that plays on the number eight creates an eternal motion on the Magic 8’s dial. A bringer of good fortune, the symbol of infinity, ‘8’ is graphically a most meaningful number – or is it figure? – in diverse cultures throughout the world.
‘8’ is a symbol that spans time and civilisations, synonymous with luck, happiness, prosperity and positive vibes. What sets it apart from other figures is its representation of endless energy, as the infinite loop. As it comes alive, it becomes a cosmic form, connecting the earthly with the spiritual. The link with a world without limits, that which endures.
At the full minute, the ‘magic’ 8 appears whole, for a fleeting moment. For a minute, the two sections of the figure rotate in opposite directions. Changing, evolving shapes, abstract and intriguing. A minute later, the eight is reconstructed, but in reverse. Time, disrupted and made whole again. Points of reference lose one meaning, only to gain a deeper one. Then the ballet resumes, looped after another minute, to a perfect eight. A cycle that repeats itself 720 times a day.
An infinitely radiant gradient
The Magic 8’s case is made of grade 5 titanium and – quite unusual for this choice of metal for a watch case – fully polished. This gives it an unexpectedly refined look, whilst retaining the light and hard feel typical of titanium. As for the dial, it is made using another method. After grand feu, paillonné and flinqué and their multiple expressions in the 1809 collection, Charles Girardier presents the grand feu enamelling technique known as en camaïeu.
Here, a convex silver plate is used as a base for applying several layers of enamel. Each one of these layers is vitrified in a kiln fired at high temperature, exceeding 800°C. As the dial is cambered along its edge, the depth of enamel varies between the centre and the periphery.
These variations in layer thickness entail variations in colour, creating an otherworldly gradation, from the outer limits inward. Charles Girardier, one of very few maisons to master this technique, raises the bar yet further with the choice of hues, cobalt blue and emerald green, for the dial.
The movement, a chromatic study
The calibre’s reference, CG8080, is evocative, extending the artistic approach and the mise en abyme of the ‘8’ down to the very heart of the mechanism. Charles Girardier’s movement inaugurates a new aesthetic interpretation. All the bridges are in black, with a particular hue achieved with the latest generation galvanic treatment that gets the most out of the NAC surface coating technology.
Derived from platinoid metals, the treatment brings forth the Calibre CG8080’s finishes. Five chamfered bridges, decorated with circular stripes. The choice of guilloché for the peripheral mass, boldly elegant in itself, made all the more interesting for its Clous de Paris technique. Standing out against all these parts in deep black: the anthracite balance wheel, the large gear wheel of the winding mass, and the movement’s engraved legal information, lacquered in the same tone as the dial. In this interpretation, the Calibre CG8080 presents a deceptively monochromatic landscape in the way lines, shapes, angles and textures capture light, creating infinite hues.
Room for the view
The aesthetic feast offered by the structure and craftsmanship of the CG8080 calibre – of its components, their finishes and their interaction – is unobstructed. Indeed, the winding mass in the form of a peripheral rotor goes beyond reconciling the advantages of an automatic movement with a sweeping view to truly offer both worlds, not just the best of them.
The CG8080 calibre’s specificity in the context of the Magic 8 collection consists in augmenting the action of the seconds wheel: it now also drives the two elements that together form the 8 at eight o’clock without an extra, dedicated complication mechanism, and thus preserving the balanced proportions of the Magic 8 collection.
A serendipitous journey
Founded in 2018 by Geneva-born Patrick A. Ulm, the Maison Charles Girardier continues the legacy of a famed artisan-engineer from the era in which the Swiss city by the lake became the cradle of high watchmaking. By the time Charles Girardier L’Aîné (the Elder) was awarded the certification and honours of Master Watchmaker in 1809, his name had already become synonymous with the most elaborately engineered and decorated pocket watches of the day. They set benchmarks for the degree of finishing, not least with dials featuring finely rendered scenes, some animated with automatons. This blend of aesthetics and complexity so particular to Charles Girardier L’Aîné’s work is what captivated Swiss entrepreneur Patrick A. Ulm more than two centuries later. It was at Greenway, Agatha Christie’s holiday residence in Devon: There, in a museum showcase a certain pocket watch grabbed his attention – and would not let go. A serendipitous journey then became the mission to perpetuate Charles Girardier L‘Aîné’s fascinating approach to Haute Horlogerie.
In 2020, Charles Girardier stepped onto the stage of high watchmaking and entered the Tourbillon
Signature Mystérieuse ‘Fleur de Sel’ at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix 2020. The watch won the Ladies’ Complication Prize, prevailing among the greatest Haute Horlogerie brands. All components of the Magic 8 collection, as with the 1809 collection, are made in Geneva.
Charles Girardier Magic 8 Technical Specifications
- CG.TI5.01.V01: Magic 8 – Emerald Green
- CG.TI5.01.B01: Magic 8 – Cobalt Blue
- Calibre CG 8080, exclusive manufacture
- Mechanical, self-winding by peripheral mass
- Integrated animation at 8 o’clock with two mobile elements forming a figure 8
- Jewels 35 rubies
- Diameter 30.6 mm – 13 ½”’
- Thickness 4.57 mm
- Power reserve 44 hours
- Frequency 28,800 VpH – 4 Hz
- Components 278
- Circular-graining, black NAC galvanic treatment for the bridges
- Chamfered and polished bridges
- Peripheral mass with Clous de Paris motif
- ‘Charles Girardier’ signature in positive relief
- Grade 5 titanium, polished
- Diameter 41 mm
- Thickness: 12.80 mm
- Grand feu enamel with a colour gradient,
- en camaïeu technique, emerald green or cobalt blue
- Hands: Dauphine style
- Fabric or leather, hand-sewn, hand-made in Geneva Steel deployant clasp, engraved with CG monogram,
- Micrometric watch band adjustment with 4 settings
Recommended international retail price: CHF 38,800, excluding VAT
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