Hands on review of the Girard-Perregaux Quasar Light
Girard-Perregaux unveiled the Quasar during the 2019 edition of Watches & Wonders Miami (that seems very far away ...). This watch can be defined as the reinterpretation of the Neo-Tourbillon Skeleton with a sapphire case. The ambition of the manufacture was clear: it was a question of giving a contemporary dimension to what makes the identity of the brand, the 3 bridges, in order to give it a new dynamic and rejuvenate its image. The Quasar is undoubtedly a beautiful watch with a significant contrast between the structure of the movement which has a black PVD treatment and the sapphire case. It thus creates a play of shadows and lights which gives it a lot of originality and character. I was however disappointed during its presentation by the fact that the movement was hardly different from that of the Neo-Tourbillon Skeleton which gave the feeling that only the sapphire case brought something new.
The Quasar Light, which has just been presented, goes to the end of the concept of transparency. And it seems to me much more accomplished. The fundamental difference lies in the aesthetic approach to the structure of the movement: the 3 bridges are also made of sapphire while the rest of this structure adopts this time a silvery and discreet shade thus annihilating all the effect of contrast brought by the Quasar. The structure is almost invisible because it fades into the whole. It is perceived, we guess its contours, its forms, its reliefs but the moving elements like the hands or the balance wheel seem to float, held by imperceptible threads.
One element, however, stands out more clearly than the others: it is the ruthenium barrel. Usually, in a skeleton watch, the treatment of the barrel is the weak point. If you open it, the view of the spring is not the most pleasant. If it remains closed, it appears as a large unsightly zone, contrasting with the finesse or the details of the other components of the movement. Girard-Perregaux, on the contrary, seizes the opportunity of this surface to stage an extremely shiny material which thus provides energy, which breaks the risk of uniformity while retaining a monochrome style.
The work on the sapphire bridges is remarkable. They give lightness and volume to the whole and are thus worthy of the symbol of the Manufacture. They harmoniously accompany the case, also flawless in execution, the result of the shaping of a single sapphire crystal disc requiring more than 200 hours of work.
The luminous and transparent dimension of the Quasar Light is amplified by the "glassbox" shape of the glass which allows to illuminate the movement in depth in all directions and including on the sides.
The show offered by the front of the watch is truly magical. In fact, the Quasar Light is a very subtle watch. Nothing is obvious. The details, the animations are discovered little by little and the tourbillon leaves the first role to the light effects which are diverse and varied. The tourbillon is nonetheless interesting to observe because the area around is clear, which makes the revolution of the cage airy and light.
The hands still tend to blend in with this bright and luminous context and the reading of the time can prove difficult under certain conditions despite their ends comprising luminescent material. Girard-Perregaux could have chosen to offer a stronger contrast, but the magic of the watch would not have been the same. Finally, I think these hands are the best solution. I really like their shape, which I find contemporary and suitable.
The back of the watch is just as impressive as the front and I would almost tend to think it is even more so. The meeting between the wheels of the mechanism, the openwork bridges and the sapphire elements creates a unique atmosphere, at once technical, contemporary and refined. Certainly, the rendering can seem complex in front of the much more orderly side of the front. But here too, light plays a major role, making the movement even more beautiful to look at.
The GP09400 movement which powers the Quasar Light has interesting performances with a power reserve of 60 hours for a frequency of 3hz. It is important to remember that this is an automatic movement even if it is hardly noticeable at first. In fact, the winding mass is coaxial with the barrel. Here is an elegant way (and already frequently seen at Girard-Perregaux) to integrate a rotor without altering the aesthetics of the movement.
The Quasar Light is a very large watch since its diameter is 46mm for a thickness of 15.25mm. Yet once put on the wrist, I did not feel this size. This is obviously due to the transparency effects and the luminous rendering of the watch. The thickness is accentuated by the shape of the glass but as the latter plays a fundamental role in the timepiece's seductive power, it doesn't alter the pleasure in any way. The diameter is not very problematic either. I am also used to such a size since having a Neo-Bridges. The bracelet sticks to the case, the lugs being short and curved and the watch is worn with comfort because it is very well maintained by the folding clasp. My only aesthetic downside is that the wrist hair which is visible through the area under the tourbillon.
I was pleasantly surprised by the rendering of the gray metallic strap. In general, the sapphire watch straps are very disappointing as if the brands were having trouble finding the right cherry to put on the cake. The color and texture are surprising and I was wondering if this bracelet had not escaped from a sci-fi movie from the 70s. But it works perfectly with the Quasar Light and rarely have I encountered such a convincing combination in the context of this type of watch.
The Quasar Light is in my opinion a success. The excellent quality of its execution is one of the reasons, but with a price of 300,000 CHF, I expected no less from a manufacture at the Girard-Perregaux level. What is decisive for me is the feeling that the Quasar Light is a truly accomplished watch as evidenced by the multiple plays of light and the subtle rendering of the sapphire bridges and the ruthenium barrel. In a way, it almost makes the Quasar obsolete because it gives the impression of having stopped in the middle of the path. I think Girard-Perregaux should perhaps have waited and released the Quasar Light directly. From a strategic point of view, this would have been more relevant because avoiding an additional reference and the disappointment of certain customers who might say that it would have been better to position themselves on the Quasar Light than on the Quasar itself. But that's how it is, all brands have to constantly present new products, even if it means going too fast.
Let Girard-Perregaux be reassured however: the Quasar Light is in my eyes one of the most beautiful references of sapphire watches.
+ the quality of execution as evidenced by the sapphire bridges
+ the play of light, subtle and spectacular at the same time
+ the discrete winding mass
+ the strap color, surprising but perfectly adapted
- the legibility under certain conditions
- the wristhair is visible in the lower part and this slightly distorts the general aesthetic