During the 1950’s and 1960’s Girard-Perregaux produced a massive number of different references. Often with only small differences on the case and lugs…
That in combination of different dials, hands and case metals… It is really hard to keep track of all – but some times there is a design element which makes you remember and recognise a watch.
Like the Damier dial – many collectors recognise the square case and the square checker-board pattern on the dial!
Now, the problem is that the Damier dial was not used only on one reference, it was a whole group of square watches using this dial…
7427 = Manual wind, no date
7838 = Automatic, date
8631 = Manual wind, date
Not sure if there ever was an automatic movement without date with the Damier dial, but for sure there were some ladies versions as well…
And if that was not enough, there were different styles of Damier pattern. All square checker-board pattern, but some with thin lines like the pair I will show, some with different shades of grey per square…
Reference 7427 time only, not even seconds hand and no date – in this shot below to the left. The second version – to the right, is the 7838 with seconds hand and date.
Here is a document from 1965 featuring the two: 7427 and 7838. Also included is one of the ladies versions, 8273 with the same Damier dial as the 7427:
The 7427 is the lowest reference I have seen with the Damier dial – was introduced in 1958 and stayed in the Girard-Perregaux catalogue all the way until 1967.
A massive number of 18650 pieces were made of the 7427 in total during these 9 years!
15200 in stainless steel, out of which 5.000 with the Damier dial.
The rest were in other metals, but I have no numbers on how many of the with the Damier dial:
- Chrome steel: 100 units
- Yellow gold plated 20 microns: 1.000 units
- Pink gold plated 20 microns: 300 units
- Yellow gold plated 40 microns: 100 units
- 14k yellow gold: 200 units
- 18k yellow gold: 800 units
- 18k pink gold: 950 units
Due to it’s long lifespan Girard-Perregaux changed Calibre inside – at first the GP Calibre 18 based on Peseux 300, then between 1959 – 1964, the GP Calibre 25-29 based on AS 1525 and after that, the GP Calibre 26-09 based on AS 1758.
Both the 7427 and the 7838 had “normal” dials as well – here is a scan from the 1968 Girard-Perregaux catalogue showing both with a more traditional dial:
Even if the 7838 lived during longer period of time – from 1962 and all the way until 1976, the production number were not as high as the 7427, but still in a big number, in total 9150 pieces:
- 6850 in steel
- 1350 in yellow gold
- 950 in rose gold
Inside the 7838 is the automatic movement, GP Calibre 3209 based on AS 1758.
Looking at these T.W.O, it is easy to think they are the same – except for the movement, only differences would be the seconds hand and the date.
From a distance they might, but in details they are not – both have the same height, 29 mm, but the 7838 is 29.5 mm wide, half millimetre wider than the 7427 and due to the automatic movement, the 7838 is also thicker, 11 mm versus the 7427 at 7.5 mm.
Another detail which makes the 7427 more elegant in my opinion is the thinner lugs with angled ends – compared to the 7838 thicker lugs with rounded ends.
As you might have understood already from the production numbers – the Damier dial were a huge success – so successful that a special Damier certificate were given with the watch:
This certificate is from Mexico – one of Girard-Perregaux “strongholds” – remember La Esmeralda and the Olimpico…
Not sure if all markets used these Damier certificates, but I never saw one in English.
The Damier is often described as a Bauhaus inspired watch – “unify the principles of mass production with individual artistic vision, striving to combine aesthetics with everyday function“.
I think the Damier fits that description spot on – the 7427 is more towards the artistic and anaesthetic, while the 7838 is closer to everyday function with its automatic movement, seconds hand and date.
On the back you see the reason to the 7838 being thicker. The snap-on case back is raised in the middle to give room to the winding rotor.
I could not take the wrist shots in direct sunlight – the sunburst dials literally exploded, making it impossible to see any details.
On the wrist , the 7427 is clean, elegant and feels somewhat like a Dandy watch! The thin case makes you wonder if the watch still there and when you look at your wrist you see something refined without any fuss.
Pure, simple, elegant –
The 7838 on the other hand is still an elegant watch, but due to the thicker case you will never doubt its still there…
It is a elegant watch, but side-by-side with the 7427 it looks and feels much less clean or refined…
Not only due to the seconds hand and the date – location of the Girard-Perregaux logo, to balance the date, makes it look bigger and also the wider placement of the lugs makes the 7838 less elegant. Strap width 20 mm vs 18 mm for the 7427.
It is a much more practical watch for an every day use, but not as Dandy as the 7427…
To see more Damier watches – head over to the GP Chronicle
But don’t forget to come back for more Wooden Beam 2020 reports – stay tuned!