Things were grand in 2007 for luxury watches. Producing a timepiece with a price of over $100,000 was a decision to be made over coffee. The assumption is that someone would buy it. A few such watches actually reveled in their excess, and others simply played with the idea of money and excess. One such interesting watch was the Girard-Perregaux
Vintage 1945 Jackpot Tourbillon. A timepiece that combined a tourbillon
with a working slot machine mechanism - complete with chimes. It cost oodles of money and was limited to just a few pieces a year in 18k rose or white gold.
The watch was placed in Girard-Perregaux'
s Vintage 1945 XXL case which roughly looked like the rectangular cabinet a slot machine might be placed in. The devilishly complex gambling mechanism made small for a watch has 125 possible combinations of images in the three windows. Operating it involved a small tug on the classic slot machine level arm on the right side of the watch cover the crown. It was a perfect little toy to distract that ultra-elite.
Combining the slot machine complication with the tourbillon
seemed natural even though it was unnecessary. I am just happy the watch actually told the time. The Girard-Perregaux in-house made manually wound GPFAY08 movement is truly beautiful and visible through the sapphire caseback window of the watch. Forgive my finger smudges on the images I took here while meeting with Girard-Perregaux - but at least you get to see what the watch looks like. You can click on the "Read More" link below for a video I took of the watch in action. You can hear how the hammer and gong based chiming mechanism sounds-off each time a roller in the slot machine stops.
Looking at the Jackpot Tourbillon now after it has been in the wild for a few years make me a bit sad. Well, it proves that the watch industry had no ability to look anywhere but up. I believe that watch costs over $500,000 and is a novelty at best. None of what they were doing at the time was economically sustainable, and they believe the luxury market would surge for the foreseeable future. At least they had fun in the process though. Even though this is a serious watch, it does not take itself too seriously. In fact, it is a toy. An expensive toy, but still a toy. Girard-Perregaux still likely makes a few of these today, and the willing can still get them. One thing most people don't know about is the elaborate "gambling trunk" case that the watch comes in. Complete with a full set of Vegas style poker chips, playing cards, a curtain you draw to reveal the watch (complete with lighting), and other fun things (more toys). I think it is going to be a while before the watch industry releases horological items like this en masse again.
Ariel Adams publishes the luxury watch review