Girard-Perregaux proudly boasts a founding date of 1791 in advertisements and all over their website today. The version of GP that is being traced back to comes a bit before Girard or Perregaux but rather a previous iteration of what would become this name in the first decade of the 20th century. This is pointed out not to take anything away from the brand’s history but rather allow us to better understand watchmakers by the name of Bautte who came first. Jean-Francois Bautte lived a rich life from 1772 to 1837 in which he is credited with practicing as one of the world best jewelers, founding the most complete watch manufacturer of the time, and having a hand in developing the world’s first ultra-thin watch movement. Following Jean-Francois’s death, his son Jacques Bautte and son-in-law Jean-Samuel Rossel founded a watchmaking company called Jean-Francoise Bautte & Cie Company to carry on the legacy and continue manufacturing great watches, most for the pocket.
Separate from the Bautte’s, but in the Swiss region, a watchmaker called Constant Girard formed Girard & Cie in 1852. Four years later Girard married Marie Perregaux—you might be able to guess the rest. In 1906, Jean-Francoise Bautte & Cie Company joined forces with Girard Perregaux, bought a large building in La Chaux-de-Fonds, where it still operates today, and became, for good, Girard-Perregaux. Through the name changes and confusion one constant (other than Constant Girard) has remained. The brand built its reputation on cutting-edge horological innovation. Starting with that first ultra-thin movement, many patents are attributed to the GP brand including heavy work on early Tourbillions. A spirit of innovation has served as a throughline of the Girard-Perregaux catalog, both technically and in design, in its history and still today.
The Girard Perregaux Sea Hawk was conceived in the early 1940s and was presented as the watch for “active service”, meaning that it was designed for sporting activity. From the advertisements of the day, it becomes clear that the watch was developed during the era of the Second World War and aimed at those young men coming home from war and looking for a rugged watch like them might have been issued. As for the Sea Hawk name, there is speculation that the name might have been coined after a Hollywood adventure movie “The Sea Hawk” from 1940, a pirate film starring the actor Errol Flynn. While this watch doesn’t say Sea Hawk on the dial, our guess is that it is part of that collection due to the case shape, dial layout, and hand style. During this era, GP did not always put the Sea Hawk name on these watches and even showed as much in an advertisement from the time.
The 36mm stainless steel case is in great condition. The case is sharp and an attractive size for the era that wears very large for its size. There are minor scratches throughout which is to be expected and the acrylic crystal shows very well with no major flaws to note. The caseback is signed on the inside with the GP logo as well as the reference number.
The Dial and Hands
The dial and hands are in fair condition. The discoloration and patina on the dial is most likely a combination of age, sunlight, and moisture. Overall the effect, when matched with the great case, is rather appealing if deep patina and wear are your things.
The watch features an automatic Girard Perregaux 40BF Bumper movement. The watch is running and the service history is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Automatic, Girard Perregaux 40BF Bumper Movement|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|