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· Banned
615 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This thread could have been called a 'fascinating find' because one never knows what you may turn up while researching timepieces.

To-day a very pleasant young lady, came into the museum library, looking for advice on a wristwatch, some of you may know that for a 'non' member there is only a very small charge to use the facilities (free if you paid for museum).
There you can use reference books or indeed gain help from the curators.
Being a wristwatch question I was asked in this case to see if I could help.

Well the watch was a very nice automatic Girard Perregaux with date, I initially dated it mid 50 or 60s. On opening the watch I could see it was 18 kt gold and had the Poincon De Maitre (responsibility mark) of the case maker. Good sign.
Now the movement was a 'Gyromatic 39' (39 for 39 Jewels) patented in 1958.
The Gyromatic 39 automatic watch, features a record number of 39 functional jewels, with a new concept in self winding movements. The key feature of the 'Gyromatic 39' invention is that it substitutes jewels for the clicks, springs and ratchets found in all other (at that time) self winding mechanisms. The Gyrotron which is the heart of Girard Perragaux timepiece transmits power with no mechanical resistance, and therefore activates at even the slightest motion of the wrist.
The Gyromatic's jewels harder than steel and perfectly polished, require no oiling, enabling it to perform better and last longer.
The novel design can be compared to conventional rotor automatics in that the difference between carting a weight up a flight of stairs and pushing the weight up an inclined plane.

All great stuff. But the lady wanted to know an approximate value of the watch? Difficult for a curator to say. It is a great make, with a very accepted revolutionary movement, and it was 18kt gold! My thoughts were take original sales value double it or since 18kt maybe time 3 or 4 times.
But we could not find an original price list from 1958.

Then I came across an 'amazing find' the original New York - Girard Perregaux - Press release launch pack dated January 16, 1958, with all original release notes and photographs.
And stand back in amazement, the timepiece was launced in conjunction of the book "The History of Time" written by Dr. Lloyd Motz, professor of physics and astronomy at Columbia University.
Where in 1958 at the press release in Jan 1958 Professor LLoyd Motz launched a picture of his ' Concept of Space Watch'
With the following 'concept' features:
1) Solar Energy.
2) Earth time and calendar time.
3) time on other planets.
4) Radar warning of meteors.
5) Radar speed indicator.
6) Gyroscope to keep track of direction.

So here we go
The watch that started the research.
1958, 18ct Girard Perregaux Gyromatic 39:


18kt gold case with Poincon de Maitre:

Now. The original press pack cover letter.

But LOOK here at the 'Space Watch' - conceptual 1958. Look at the size!
Just as well it was weightless!

Oh, and the cost!! $1500 in 1958. - Today? Maybe $4000+?

Miss M Bench - Owner of watch.
Sara Dockery - Library and Archives Supervisor
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· Banned
615 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, I was pretty amazed to find it. The full press pack has some amazing facts in it.

The GYROMATIC took only 2 screws to strip down to winding mechanism

Thanks again

· Registered
4,542 Posts
Fantastic Horology, my friend!

What a cool piece of history and once again, you have found something from the past that
would have been lost forever if it weren't for your hard work and tireless efforts to show the world
the incredible work of our forefathers!

Thanks for all you do!:thumbup:
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