Review: Girard-Perregaux 1999 Chronograph, Ref. 4946

May 08, 2012,19:42 PM
 




Hi All,

I loved the cream-dialled 1999 Chronograph from the moment I saw it seven years ago. Unfortunately the Ref. 4946 was only made between 1999 and 2002, with perhaps less than 500 pieces in this colour combination (there was a black dialled version as well). However patience has paid off and this perfect example is now permanently on my wrist.









The case measures 38mm x 13mm but has long curved lugs that literally wrap around the wrist. Combined with the narrow bezel and the curved strap ends that frame the watch, the 1999 Chronograph sits perfectly and wears larger than you might imagine.



Girard-Perregaux manufactures their own cases (as well as bracelets and buckles) and the attention to detail is obvious. The case sides are brushed, while the thin bezel and the upper and lower surfaces of the 21mm-wide lugs are mirror polished. The sapphire case back is also polished and seven screws secure it to the case, which is a nice detail. The large crown is engraved with “GP” and is easy to wind and set. The case is water resistant to 30m, if that matters with a chronograph (well I guess it does as you don’t want condensation, humidity, or the occasional rain shower to ruin your day!). Mushroom shaped chronograph pushers and a high box-shaped sapphire crystal emphasise the vintage feel.







The dial is beautifully proportioned. A seconds track and a tachometer scale encircle the dial which features applied polished gold Arabic numerals, set off beautifully against the eggshell coloured dial. These match the leaf-shaped gold hour and minute hands that catch the light and make time telling quite easy. The chronograph is a tri-compax design, but the continuous seconds register is on the right. I find this quite useful when the watch peeks out from under a shirt cuff.




There are two important attributes of a chronograph for me: one is being able to read civil time at a glance and the other is being able to determine elapsed chronograph time easily. So many chronographs are a cluttered cacophony of colours, hands and subdails that this basic requirement is actually quite challenging. The 1999 Chronograph, however, is a case study in functionality. The only possible variation in the design I could see would be to make the continuous sub-seconds hand gold to differentiate it from the chronograph hands. But for aesthetic reasons I like the balanced blued hands on this face, and in practice you soon learn which dials to use to read off the various functions.







The chronograph and sub-seconds hands are in heat-blued steel and the chrono seconds hand is a delightfully sensual design, as you can see from the images. All the hands reach their appropriate tracks with a definite nod to function over aesthetics. There is a small date window at the 4:30 position (which does not eat into the chronograph seconds track and is a more elegant design than Zenith often achieves) with the date shown in matching black font on a grey background. I find this just perfect. It doesn’t upset the symmetry of the dial very much and provides useful information when you require it. The date can be quick-set from the crown.




The movement is the in-house Calibre GP3370. This is based on the robust workhorse GP3300 calibre that powers many Girard-Perregaux watches. The Cal. 3300 is an 11.5 ligne (26.2 x3.28mm) uni-directional (counter-clockwise) automatic movement with a glucydur balance and flat Nivarox 1 hairspring beating at 28800vph (4Hz). There is no ‘slop’ at all in the hand setting train and, combined with a practical hacking seconds, allows very accurate time setting – which I like in a chronograph that purports to accurately measure time.


On top of the base calibre is a Dubois-Depraz cam/lever chronograph module (DD2021). While many look down on modular chronographs (they tend to be thicker, date displays are usually recessed, pushers are not in line with the crown, hand setting may not be as accurate and the chronograph movement is hidden under the dial) the Cal. 3370 has been nicely thought out. The date ring is raised up on an additional bridge so that the display is flush with the dial. The pushers essentially align with the top of the large crown and the pusher feel is very positive. It’s not buttery smooth and one needs to press quite firmly and a long way in (so to be accurate you have to partially depress the pusher and wait for your moment), but there is no delay or jump that can sometimes be an issue with modular designs.



The base Cal. 3300 has 27 jewels, but combined with the chronograph module there are a notable 63 jewels. The power reserve is around 45 hours. The movement itself is seen through the sapphire case back. The main plates and automatic rotor are decorated with Geneva stripes and there is carefully applied perlage around the perimeter of the movement. Anglage is applied to the visible edges and the movement is pleasingly well finished at this level of watchmaking.






The brown signed crocodile strap with matching brown stitching tapers to a signed 16mm simple pin buckle, perfectly suited to this ‘dress’ chronograph. The Ref. 4946 was also available on bracelet, but the 38mm diameter lends itself more to a multipurpose dress chronograph than an all out sports chronograph, so I think it is very suited to the leather band which has the additional effect of emphasising the watch ‘head’.













The movement was serviced only recently (its second routine service in 10 years), but I have been enormously impressed with the accuracy of the watch, on and off the wrist, in all positions and with and without the chronograph running. Basically the watch has lost 2 seconds over the last fortnight! It’s only one watch in a series of course, but I find that performance impressive, and I’m glad this watch is mine. smile This is perhaps one of the theoretical advantages of the modular over integrated chronograph design: in the modular design the wheels of the chronograph are moving continuously and it is only the hammers on the hearts that prevent the hands from moving. This has the advantage of producing less drop in amplitude of the balance when the chronograph function is activated.




The 1999 Chronograph is a watch that surprises and delights in the details. As you wear it there are so many aspects to marvel at: the curve of the lugs, the length and shape of the hands, the red accents on the dial, the interplay of brushed and polished surfaces and the shape of the crystal.




For me a Girard-Perregaux watch is all about the wearing. They are generally not watches to be put on a pedestal in the collection and admired from afar (excluding perhaps the Three Gold Bridges variants, and other exotica, but you know what I mean). Girard-Perregaux more often than not seems to get the important aspects of the case, the wrist feel, and the dial very right, and the Ref. 4946 is no exception.









Andrew
This message has been edited by dxboon on 2012-05-10 06:48:04 This message has been edited by dxboon on 2012-05-17 11:36:42

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Thank you so much for sharing this Chrono with us, Andrew.

 
 By: amanico : May 8th, 2012-22:54
This is a lovely GP you got here. You explaiend very well all the details whiich made your decision, and, to make it short, I concur. The only small thing which disturbed me was and still is the bloody date, located between 4 and 5 o'clock. I think this d... 

Symmetry and date

 
 By: AndrewD : May 8th, 2012-23:24
I hear what you are saying, Nico. In regard to the Ref. 4946 all I can comment on is that GP have included the date very tastefully. There is no border around the date window, the font is the same as the dial markings and, most importantly, the window doe...  

Thanks for the photoshop efforts, Andrew. ;)

 
 By: amanico : May 8th, 2012-23:37
Yes, it speaks a lot with outh the date, and much louder to me. But this is just my opinion, and as I said, a minor detail which can't damage the appreciation on this Chrono.I am more and mopre turning around this brand, by the way. There are some pure tr... 

A touch of asymmetry...

 
 By: jporos : May 10th, 2012-12:26
is critical to the beauty of many things. Our faces are not perfectly bilaterally symmetrical, but slightly off. Symmetry is so powerful that it can take attention away from the physical and material qualities of the elements of the composition, in this c... 

That's a very helpful observation ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 10th, 2012-22:06
I have been looking again at the photoshoped image without the date, and looking at the watch on my wrist and the watch is much more interesting with the 'beauty spot'. To borrow one of Art's usual succinct analogies: Cindy Crawford ... With or without? A...  

GP purchase

 
 By: mmerrill094 : September 14th, 2020-08:37
Andrew, I have come across a cream dial GP ref 4946 like yours and was wondering what you think a reasonable price to pay for it is? Thanks, Mark

Beautiful

 
 By: rehan_dmc : May 9th, 2012-05:14
This is in my opinion the perfect chronograph watch. I have been searching for this particular model for a long time, in the end I ended up getting a ref 49580 which is similar. Wear it in good health, glad you finally managed to catch it!

One question Andrew...

 
 By: mikesprang : May 9th, 2012-07:44
Andrew, Congratulations on the beautiful GP 1999 chronograph. This is one of my all-time favorites and I wish GP would introduce another reference similar to yours for those of us who have not been able to locate the 1999. Also, great photos and report as... 

Pusher feel

 
 By: AndrewD : May 9th, 2012-20:49
Hi Mike, Thanks for your kind words. There seems to be more than a few who love this reference. The closest watch in the current GP catalogue is the Ref. 49585 which is 40mm in size and has a solid case back, but otherwise has a very similar dial. I will ... 

Thanks Andrew for the good description...

 
 By: mikesprang : May 10th, 2012-07:23
I look forward to seeing your GP and Zenith side-by-side for a comparison. Again, congratulations on a beautiful piece! Best, Mike

Thanks for the review Andrew.

 
 By: foversta : May 9th, 2012-14:52
I like its dial, especially the applied figures. There is something classic and elegant But again, a modular movement... I'm a bit worried by this not in terms of performance or efficiency but we have a view on a three hands movement... Fx This message ha... 

The view from behind ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 9th, 2012-20:59
Thanks FX. I agree that it would be nice to have a column-wheel movement visible under that sapphire. It may be why the current Ref. 49585 has a solid case back. But you can't argue about the performance of the calibre - it's a very well thought out desig... 

Excellent review - a cousin says hello

 
 By: Nomer : May 9th, 2012-15:11
Andrew, Congratulations on this acquisition; like you I was smitten by a similar model (see below) as I found the aesthetics very irresistible. I must say that I admire your taste! As you say, it wears pretty big and over time, I've forgiven GP for the da...  

"Manufacture"

 
 By: AndrewD : May 9th, 2012-21:18
Thanks Nomer, you clearly have great taste in watches. ;-) Thanks for the photos of your Ref. 49585 which adds a lot to this thread; it's great to see these watches evolve. The 40mm is more in keeping with modern size standards. Although I like the enlarg... 

You found a keeper...

 
 By: tempusfugit : May 9th, 2012-21:11
The vintage appearance with applied numerals make this an attractive chronograph to me. I appreciate the information provided by the date also and find it a tasteful addition. Thanks for providing us with information about such a nice timepiece. tempusfug... 

Patience paid off ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 10th, 2012-15:46
I had always been impressed by this watch, but put it out of my mind. But when it became available I jumped at it. Pleased you like it too. Andrew

Beautiful dial, Andrew!

 
 By: sanro : May 9th, 2012-23:31
Congratulations!

What doesn't come out in the photos is ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 10th, 2012-15:43
Thanks Sanro, the dial, and actually the case work, really make this watch. What doesn't come out in the photos very well is the perfect eggshell yellow of the dial. And there is also a graininess to the dial, much like the surface of an egg. It greatly a... 

Marvelous piece

 
 By: Ares501 - Mr Green : May 10th, 2012-01:04
As big GP fan I thank you for this great review of beautiful watch Congrats Best Damjan

New definition as....

 
 By: Ares501 - Mr Green : May 11th, 2012-00:59
Tradi ng with ra tional I'm veeery traditional in many things my friend Best Damjan

Here's the 'traditional' Damjan ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 23rd, 2012-15:58
... I know and love: Deep down, perhaps, but there is no doubt in my mind. A...  

Thank you for your review Andrew

 
 By: Dje : May 10th, 2012-10:54
Hi, I can say I like your watch, and prove it since I have nearly the same one: gp.watchprosite.com In fact since they made mine in 2007 they issued at least another series of 4946 in late 2007 or early 2008, the "Chronographe Monte Carlo 1965", a cream o... 

Excellent review of the history and evolution ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 10th, 2012-15:31
... of these vintage mushroom pusher chronographs, Jerome. Thanks for the link. It reminds me again what treasures are in the archives here. I certainly remember your Ref. 49460 and it was your watch that kept the fire burning for me with this piece. So w... 

Beautiful watch, Andrew

 
 By: docsnov : May 10th, 2012-21:05
I love vintage style chronographs, and GP's models are among my favorite along with Patek and VC. I prefer rose gold cases with the exception of a white metal case with rose or yellow gold numbers and indexes. The contrast between the numerals/hands and t... 

Thank you very much once again, Andrew...

 
 By: pplater : May 12th, 2012-01:37
Where do you find the time for these thorough and thoughtful reviews of the pieces that you stalk, run down and bag? Whatever - it was terrific to learn more about this watch; thanks for that. Reflecting on our offline discussion, though: are you sure tha...  

Hmmmm...

 
 By: dxboon : May 12th, 2012-23:22
...better on the strap for me in this case. Not that I don't like it on the bracelet, but something about the vintage styling cues of the dial and pushers calls for a strap IMO. I'd be happy to have either version in my watch box, of course! Cheers, Daos

Two personalities perhaps?

 
 By: AndrewD : May 13th, 2012-18:09
Thanks for the photos on bracelet. You make a strong case that the 1999 Chrono is a a very suitable sports chronograph. The bracelet adds heft to the otherwise demure 38mm case and many have commented on the quality of the GP bracelet and the invisible cl... 

Great catch, Andrew!

 
 By: dxboon : May 13th, 2012-00:16
It's a fantastic piece. The blued hands are particularly nice. I'd love to own one of these! Wear it in good health! Cheers, Daos

That blued centre chronograph seconds hand ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 13th, 2012-18:12
... is just beautiful, and the egg-shell dial sets it off very nicely. I also like how you can see the blued underside reflected in the polished numerals and gold hands (this is apparent in some of the photos). Very pleased you like it. Andrew

Is there a photo of the chronograph module used...

 
 By: mikesprang : May 14th, 2012-07:48
Hello, Is there a photo of the chronograph module used in the movement of the ref. 4946? I would love to see what its design and finishing look like. Thank you, Mike

The Dubois-Depraz 2021 chronograph module

 
 By: AndrewD : May 14th, 2012-21:29
Hi Mike, It's a good question and I am interested to see it myself. GP don't have a press photo for the Cal. 3370 and looking back in our archives here there are no pictures that I can find. I will however keep an eye out and revisit this - but I am not v...  

Thanks for the link Andrew...

 
 By: mikesprang : May 15th, 2012-07:52
This is a very good report on the big date moonphase movement. If you happen to find any information on the chronograph module please let me know. Thanks again, Mike

I'm not a Chrono Guy

 
 By: Tobi : May 15th, 2012-08:58
but this is a very attractive watch and one of the nicest chronos I have seen ! great photos too !

I used to think I liked ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 15th, 2012-22:13
Thanks Tobias, I used to think I liked black dialed chonographs - more sporty and just a liitle more cool, but I must say that this eggshell/cream dial is an absolute pleasure to look at. The combination of looks, legibility and functionality is a winning... 

Argggh!

 
 By: tinker2 : May 15th, 2012-11:18
When I saw the post-- I was hoping this was a re-issue!!!! This is one of my favorite watches bar none.... and have never seen one in the flesh. Ah well, I can dream....

Keep dreaming ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 15th, 2012-22:25
... because it took me a few years to find the right one, but in the meantime how about the Ref. 49585? Is there something in the design that particularly roots you to the 1999 Chronograph? It may be worth a try on the wrist? Regards Andrew

Nice review. Here's mine with black dial for comparison

 
 By: vlkcheng : May 16th, 2012-06:12
I was hunting for a cream dial one in the begining but gave up after looking for 6 months. I found the cream dial is more classic and adds to that vintage feel. Black dial perhaps looks slightly more sporty. I found the bracelet transform the watch to a m...  

Beautiful watch indeed!

 
 By: mark_third : May 21st, 2012-15:04
And you're right about the strap, it changes everything !

Wonderful sibling

 
 By: AndrewD : May 21st, 2012-18:09
Thanks for posting in the black-dialled variant. I agree with you about the more sporty feel of the dial. Nice to share this superb watch with other PuristS. Warm regards, Andrew

What a gem Andrew, Congratulations.

 
 By: MichaelC : May 16th, 2012-06:41
This is a superbly executed watch. I love the heat blue hands and gold numerals, quite a fetching combination.

Thanks Michael ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 21st, 2012-18:13
The polished gold hands and indices catch the light and really dress up the piece. And the cream dial is a perfect canvas for that, as well as the blued hands. It doesn't get much better for a vintage styled chronograph. And the modular movement keeps the... 

Superb chronograph

 
 By: MdV : May 21st, 2012-04:11
One of my all time favorites. Very, very nice color combination. Look fantastic on the wrist. Just lovely. Thanks for sharing, Best, Mark

There are a lot of fans ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 21st, 2012-18:16
... of this piece. And I have had more unsolicited comments, such as "nice watch", in the last few weeks than I normally get, so it must have that certain something. Pleased you like it too. Andrew

Paraphernalia

 
 By: AndrewD : May 21st, 2012-19:18
Just for completeness, here is the documentation that comes with the watch, stored in a compartment below the inner case. Warranty and very clear instructions. And after the last service at the GP service centre the replaced parts were returned with the w...  

Great revie, Andrew...

 
 By: Stefan : May 22nd, 2012-08:40
...I am not awre of this watch before, initially felt that the dial with applied arabic numerals plus heated blue hands are superb, they all look very matched. The movement with quite good finishing looks good for me. It seems a very nice piece after all.... 

I will do a Chrono 'family' post on HoMe ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 23rd, 2012-15:03
... at some stage, Stefan. Although I try not to get too much of the same complication, I have ended up with black and light dials, moonphases, cams and column wheel versions. I will make some comments on each. Pleased you like the watch. Andrew

What a beauty!

 
 By: akunawe : May 26th, 2012-11:59
Care to share the circumference of your wrist.

I should have included that in my review ...

 
 By: AndrewD : May 28th, 2012-01:42
... as i know it helps give some perspective on the wrist photos. My wrist circumference is 17.5cm. My sweet spot for watches is 38 - 40mm. I go up to 42mm for sports watches. The 1999 Chrono actually wears a little larger than its 38mm diameter suggests ...