Even though the Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds is best known as the center of watchmaking industry, it is also the birthplace of many great and influential people who made their marks in various fields of industry and arts. One of the best known and praised natives of the Alpine town located just a few miles from the French border is undoubtedly Le Corbusier who is nowadays considered as a founding father of modern architecture. Located in the same Swiss town in Neuchatel canton where the architect was born, Girard-Perregaux has decided to honor its famous fellow citizen with a new series of special watches. Three timepieces are based on the Vintage 1945 model by the brand; forged from gold, steel, sapphire and even concrete; and inspired by three cities that represent major chapters in the life of the famed Modernist: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Paris and Marseilles. Each of the watches is made in the highly exclusive edition that includes only five copies.
Le Corbusier – A Founding Father of Modernism in Architecture
During the long and fertile career that spanned for five decades, Le Corbusier established himself as a leading figure in the fields of architecture, design and urbanism, and earned a reputation as one of the most prominent artists of what is now called modern architecture. Starting in his native town in the Jura Mountains where he trained as a sculptor and an engraver, his career later led him to France and then all over the world where he made designs for various buildings and even entire cities. Widely renowned for his theoretical work, Le Corbusier was firmly dedicated into creating better conditions for the residents of large and crowded cities. The crown of his career as an artist is arguably the work on the design of the United Nations Secretariat Building in New York where he was a member of a multinational team of distinguished architects.
Vintage 1945 Watch as the Basis of Commemorative Pieces
With such an important and influential career, it comes as no surprise that Girard-Perregaux opted to make a series of timekeepers dedicated to the architect who was born in the same town where the watchmaker is located. As the basic model for three timepieces, the brand chose the Vintage 1945 watch. The model was selected because 1945 was very important in Le Corbusier’s career, it was the year when he published one of his most influential studies, Les Trois Establissements Humains (The Three Human Establishments) and when he came up with the Modulor system which utilizes the golden ratio as the basic system of proportions for the designs.
As each of three newcomers by Girard-Perregaux has the same watch as its base, it is natural that these timekeepers share a lot of features, especially the supported functions as well as the same dimensions. This is why they all have the same rectangular cases (with a curved profile) with the length of 36.2 mm and the width of 35.25 mm. Likewise, three watches dedicated to Le Corbusier are made with glare-proof crystals at the front, and with transparent sapphire cases that are secured with four screws at the back. Another universal trait is water resistance to 30 meters.
In-House Automatic Mechanical Caliber
Naturally, all three timekeepers utilize the same beating heart, Girard-Perregaux GP3300-078 self-winding caliber. The in-house mechanical movement (with the width of 11 ½ lignes) oscillates at the frequency of 28,800 vph, integrates 26 jewels into its construction and provides a power storage that last for two hours shy of two days. The only supported function of the caliber is the basic timekeeping one, and the watch has just hour and minute hands.
Since three new timekeepers represent three cities that mark three stages in the life and the career of the renowned architect, they include some differences which are visible in the choice of the material of the cases, and more importantly, on the unique dials created for the watches.
Vintage 1945 Le Corbusier – La Chaux-de-Fonds
As it has been previously mentioned, the famed Modernist architect was born in the famous Swiss watchmaking center, the town of La Chaux-de-Fonds by the name of Charles-Eduard Jeanneret. It is the place where he spent his formative years and attended the local School of Art, where he trained to become a sculptor and engraver. For this reason, the watchmaking brand decided to make the first timepiece dedicated to his early years with a very special dial that features a bas-relief made of mother-of-pearl. The creation of the delicate and aesthetically impeccable dial requires an entire week of work and the work of artisans that have mastered the skills of design, sculpture, polishing and varnishing. The face of the watch that faithfully reproduces one of the artist’s early works needed to be created with upmost precision and attention to detail in order to recreate the integrity of five colors. The first of three new watches comes in a housing made of pink gold and bears the reference number 25880-52-103-HKBA.
Vintage 1945 Le Corbusier – Paris
In 1917, Charles-Eduard Jeanneret moved to The City of Light where after three years he started using the pseudonym by which he is known even today – Le Corbusier. It was a trend at the time, and it reflected his intention to be immediately recognized in the multitude of artists who resided and worked in Paris at the time. This was also the time when a new style in arts – modernism – was emerging. Le Corbusier embraced the new cultural movement and adopted its values of putting the emphasis on the elemental geometric forms, and this was visible in his paintings, architecture, as well as decorative arts. In 1929, the artist exhibited the furniture he designed at Autumn Salon exhibition in Paris. One of the pieces that he exhibited was a chaise longue that featured a yet unseen combination of stainless steel, tanned leather and rawhide.
This iconic piece of furniture served as the inspiration for the second new timekeeper by Girard-Perregaux which, just like its influence, utilizes the same materials, and has a case made of steel and a cowhide strap. On the dial of the watch, we can see the principles of the artist’s Modulor system or proportion. The designation of the Parisian piece is 25880-11-102-HKBA.
Vintage 1945 Le Corbusier – Marseille
The final commemorative piece, launched by the Swiss watchmaker in collaboration with the le Corbusier Foundation is based on one of the most important late works by the artist – the Cite Radieuse (Radiant City), a housing unit in Marseille. Made between 1947 and 1952 from rough-cast reinforced concrete, the complex was built in order to solve the problem of housing shortage that plagued the city at the time. The massive complex that serves as a home to some 1,600 residents was naturally constructed in accordance with the principles of the Modulor. The construction was very successful and it was the inspiration for several other similar complexes that were erected throughout the nation and even in the neighboring Germany. The colossal concrete complex was also the model for the creation of the third commemorative piece which sports a peculiar looking dial, made entirely from concrete. It is created with the use of meticulous process, and takes three whole days in order to pour, dry and hand-finish it. The final Le Corbusier timepiece has the reference number 25880-11-101-HKBA.