Remember when the digital watch was the cutting edge of style and innovation? Compressing the power of the microprocessor into a wrist-borne casing seemed almost impossibly futuristic, albeit vastly underwhelming in comparison with the feature-rich mechanical watch.
The very first electronic digital watches used LEDs, starting with Hamilton’s P1 Pulsar in 1972. Liquid crystal quickly entered the fray, led by Seiko in 1973, but although LCD eventually brought more features to the fore, the soft red glow of the LED still held an allure.
In 1976, the esteemed Swiss watchmaker Girard-Perregaux introduced a quartz digital watch that eschewed the conventional watch face in favour of an angled case with a slot for the numerical display. Like all power-hungry LED displays, it only illuminated when a button was pushed. Quickly dubbed the ‘Casquette’, the watch was a marked departure for the company, which can trace its origins back to 1791. In two years, 8,200 examples were sold, creating a cult classic that is now much sought-after.
The Casquette could only have been conceived in the 70s. Some contemporary commentators even drew parallels between the original watch’s brutish, muscular lines and the American muscle cars of the era, noting that the LEDs mirrored taillights on a car. Whatever the inspiration, the watch was like nothing on the market, with its integrated bracelet, hefty links and a solid, almost brutalist appearance.
Girard-Perregaux has now launched the Casquette 2.0, a modern iteration of this iconic timepiece. Instead of the original finish options of steel, yellow gold plate and polycarbonate, the new Casquette uses scratch-resistant ceramic for the case and Grade 5 titanium for the caseback. Although at 107g it’s much lighter than the original, the Casquette 2.0 still makes a hefty statement on the wrist – an Apple Watch Series 7 is 51.5g.
The electronics have been given a contemporary update too, with a whole new movement that does way more than its 70s antecedent. The Calibre GP03980 not only shows hours, minutes, seconds, day, and date, but can also display the month and year, along with a chronograph function and a second time zone.
There’s also an intriguing ‘secret date,’ which lets you program a memorable date into the watch for daily recall – helpful if you’re the kind of person who struggles to remember important anniversaries. Just 820 examples will be made, available via Girard-Perregaux’s website.
The Girard-Perregaux, Casquette 2.0, is priced at £3,600. Read more at Girard-Perregaux.com (opens in new tab).
This article is part of The T3 Edit (opens in new tab), a collaboration between T3 and Wallpaper* which explores the very best blends of design, craft, and technology. Wallpaper* magazine is the world’s leading authority on contemporary design and The T3 Edit is your essential guide to what’s new and what’s next.