Sapphire-cased timepieces have become a new material frontier in high-end watchmaking over the past several years, acting as a 360 degree showcase for highly decorated or complex movements. The latest brand to throw its hat in the ring in this ongoing material arms race is Girard-Perregaux, which has taken the use of sapphire a step beyond the norm with its new limited-edition Quasar Light. The Quasar Light features some truly impressive accoutrements, including a full sapphire case made from a single disk of sapphire material, a movement that seems to float inside the case thanks to distinctive sapphire bridges, and a tourbillon at 6 o’clock.
It’s the brilliance of the 46mm all-sapphire case that gives the Girard-Perregaux Quasar Light its unorthodox name, referencing the brightest celestial objects in the known universe. The name is not without merit, as the 200 hour manufacturing process needed to create and finish the main case body from a single piece of sapphire involves three times the standard amount of material and a painstaking amount of polishing to ensure clarity and brilliance according to the brand. Even the crown is cut from its own piece of sapphire, faceted to keep the traditional coin edge in a process that must have been immensely difficult. Any real criticism of the case design here comes off as nitpicking: at 46mm-wide and 15.25 mm-thick, it’s not exactly petite on the wrist, and provides only 30 meters of water resistance. That said, who will ever try to hide this under a shirt cuff or take this anywhere near water? The points are more or less moot.
Without a dial at all, the manufacture GP09400-1128 skeleton automatic tourbillon movement is allowed to dominate the view. While a set of white gold dauphine hands along with a small seconds indicator on the tourbillon at 6 o’clock are provided, everything else is given over to an exquisitely finished movement. While a metal ring on the outside grounds the entire structure, most of the major elements from the tourbillon to the central hands float in midair, suspended by a series of sapphire bridges in Girard-Perregaux’s signature arrow shape. The finishing and artistry on display is frankly astonishing, particularly on the unique textured ruthenium barrel at 12 o’clock. This brilliant material and the massive number of facets help the Quasar Light to throw even further reflections. The GP09400-1100 is more than a pretty face, boasting a respectable 60 hour power reserve.
Girard-Perregaux matches the Quasar Light with an appropriately light-catching strap, made of a silver lame fabric. An additional black alligator leather strap is also provided for a slightly more traditional look. Both straps are mounted with a butterfly style clasp in white gold.
As a piece of pure horological artwork, it’s difficult to find fault with the Girard-Perregaux Quasar Light. The overall package, while large and undoubtedly delicate, is stunningly engineered and finished and sets itself apart form previous sapphire-cased offerings. Only 18 examples of the Quasar Light will be made, at a retail price of $294,000.