Soul of an Artist, Spirit of a Phoenix: Meet The New Charles Girardier 1809 Tribute to Jackson Pollock Only Watch 2021
Editor’s note: For nearly a decade now we have curiously anticipated the Only Watch Auction. The 2021 edition doesn’t disappoint! While watches earlier this year had a green theme, this year’s Auction watches seem to have an orange theme. Following the releases from Watches & Wonders 2021, today we present the new Charles Girardier 1809 Tribute to Jackson Pollock Only Watch 2021. Here’s our preview and the Gut Reaction Review (Grr…). For our standard detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
The Comeback Kid
Jackson Pollock’s work is having a sort of revival at the moment. VANS has released a slew of footwear and apparels in partnership with The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Jackson Pollock Studios and sacai — a Japanese luxury fashion brand — have also collaborated on an apparel and accessories collection. In 2017 there were the The Hundreds x Jackson Pollock jackets. A couple of years ago or so Sync. and PORTER also joined forces to release some Jackson Pollock art-inspired bags. Pollock’s paint splattered abstract art seems to be the call of the day.
On the other hand, a relatively unknown watch brand Charles Girardier is making waves in the world of horology. I say unknown because Girardier’s work was only recently unearthed in 2019 by Patrick A. Ulm, a Swiss entrepreneur. And I say waves because the brand’s Tourbillon Signature Mystérieuse fleur de sel — that featured the similar calibre CG 1809 — took home the Ladies’ Complication Prize at the GPHG awards last year.
And while both these legends in their own rights may have first announced their arrival decades ago — and centuries apart from each other for that matter — but this year they come together in soul and spirit to present a rather captivating timepiece, the new Charles Girardier 1809 Tribute to Jackson Pollock Only Watch 2021.
The Night in Shining Armour
After finding a bit more about the brand, my gut reaction on looking at the press images was to marvel at the symmetry of the dial — the figure-8 is also reminiscent of Jaquet Droz’s styling — and then to immerse myself in the deep gradient blue that is a result of a rather rare technique of enamelling applied by hand called “Fusion enameling”.
It is in this gradient blue dial that I see echoes of Jackson Pollock’s work.
There is a Jackson Pollock quote that goes: “The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through”.
The dial of the CG Jackson Pollock Only Watch 2021 reminds me of a dark blue night sky, the canvas of which is accentuated by a few shining stars.
And just like the above quote, the watch thanks to the Fusion enameling seems to have a life of its own, one that Charles Girardier allows to come alive on your wrist.
From the press pictures, the execution of this Grand Feu enamel magnified with “Fusion Enameling” framed by a 41mm diameter and 12.20mm thick rose gold case appears to be par excellence and in tune with the current highest standards of the industry (though of course we can only paint a more appropriate picture once we have had hands-on with any of their products).
More Than Just A Pretty Face
Moving beyond the aesthetics, I also appreciate the other elements that allow this piece unique to be a stellar offering. In regards to the complications, besides featuring the centralised hour and minute hands, the rose gold watch also features a Flying Tourbillon — one revolution per minute — and a peripheral rotor.
Not many brands still incorporate this style of rotor since its inception by Carl F. Bucherer, and I for one am all for it. The rotor used here is also extremely silent thanks to the sue of a “single ball bearing”.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this release in the concept of personalisation: not only is this watch a piece unique, but the lucky bid winner will also be given the opportunity to customise the brand’s signature signature at 12’o clock with his/her own initials or a number.
There is another Jackson Pollock quote that rings true here. “Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is”. The idea of a personalised signature allows the wearer to be own artist, granting him to paint his personal touch on the dial.
I believe this personalisation aspect on a ladies watch with a tourbillon is what might have been the deciding factor in the jury decisions when the brand won the Ladies’ Complication Prize at the GPHG awards
The winner can also choose to retain the existing patented “Mysterious Signature” that features the Charles Girardier Monogram with an interlaced C and G pivoting when one reads the time.
So who were Jackson Pollock and Charles Girardier?
For those of you who may not know who he is, Jackson was an American abstract expressionist artist and painter.
Charles Girardier was another artist, from way before Pollock’s time. Only instead of paint and brush, his genre of expertise was horological art. In 1809, he became a Master Watchmaker., hence the reference to the year in the nomenclature of this release.
In a phoenix moment, the brand Charles Girardier 1780 — this year is in reference to when he became a pocket watchmaker — is in the midst of a fill-blown revival or re-birth, that saw its seeds sown when the brand won the GPHG 2020.
In regards to the cause, 54 brands are participating this year for the 9th edition — the first one was in 2005 — of the biennial charity auction Only Watch, whose aim is to raise funds for research against Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The lots will be auctioned in collaboration with Christie’s on 6 November 2021, at 2pm (Geneva time), at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues.
“I wanted to revive a sleeping beauty that had fallen asleep in the beginning of the 19th century. The next chapters of the House Charles Girardier will be guided by the same incarnated passion, values and DNA that the Master Watchmaker Charles Girardier instilled two centuries ago”.Patrick A. Ulm, CEO Charles Girardier
The ref. CG.OR5.01.BOW features the calibre CG 1809/6. It is a self-winding movement that comprises 308 components, beats at the standard frequency of 4Hz, and offers a 46-hour power reserve.
The movement powers both the flying tourbillon and the automaton. The latter features the customisable logo on two elements pivoting on an axis that is powered by an oscillating weight hidden under the dial.
This automaton gets charged by the movement of the wrist and sees the two individual mobile units “move in opposite directions that return to the initial position when the wrist is tilted for the reading of the time”.
As far as I am aware, CG movements are made in partnership with Timeless Manufacture SA, an independent Swiss company that designs, develops, and assembles mechanical movements.
That’s All Folks!
If you like the idea of owning a modern timepiece with bespoke elements and impressive horological features, you have discovered an impressive up-and-coming brand.
The brand’s Chapter 2.0 is all about taking the characteristic elements — dials in grand feu enamel and automaton such as “Jacquemarts” — of Charles Girardier’s pocket watches, and bring them to a wrist today.
The new Charles Girardier 1809 Tribute to Jackson Pollock Only Watch 2021 does just that by incorporating the enamelling on the dial and a form of automaton at 12’o clock that sees the mysterious signature swirl with time.
Besides the personalisation I also like that the bid winner will be invited to visit their watchmaking atelier and meet the artisans performing the incredible “Enamel Grand Feu Fusion art” work.
As is often with artistic watches, legibility can be compromised and I am also pleased to note that based on the press pictures, thanks to the bold appliqué indices and sharp dauphine hands, the dial’s readability seems pretty decent. I also appreciate the whimsical aspect of pairing such a serious horological and formal looking piece with a traditionally woven ribbon strap.
I reckon it’s only apt to wrap this up with another Jackson Pollock quote: “Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you…”.
The new Charles Girardier 1809 Tribute to Jackson Pollock Only Watch 2021 is an abstract interpretation of Jackson Pollock’s art, that confronts the observer, mesmerising him, and luring into a world that was long forgotten.
To find out more about the new Charles Girardier 1809 Tribute to Jackson Pollock Only Watch 2021 and other Only Watch auction timepieces, please head to the ONLY WATCH 2021 collection website here. All images unless otherwise specified are © 2021 – Charles Girardier. Make sure to check out our reviews of Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.