Let’s get this out of the way early on. Does the Girard-Perregaux Laureato share some visual similarities with other well-known luxury steel sports watches? Sure, but we can easily think of half a dozen watches that fit that particular bill. AP and Patek don’t have a monopoly on ’70s design. And make no mistake, the Laureato is very much a ’70s design. In fact, as far as watch designs go, it’s got a great backstory.
The first Laureato, released in 1975, was a quartz, arriving as it did six years after the invention of the quartz wristwatches. Not only that, it was (according to GP) the first quartz movement made entirely in-house, and it also determined the frequency standard 32,768 Hz that’s still used today. Quite a feat given the novel and complex technologies involved. The watch – designed by an Italian architect, its octagonal bezel inspired by the footprint of Florence’s famous dome – was a hit, and by the latter part of the decade it had become GP’s best-seller. Even then, the key elements of bezel, hobnail dial pattern and integrated bracelet were key design features.
And it’s not like the Laureato has suddenly reappeared after a long absence. The collection was given an upgrade in 1984, when modular mechanical complications were piggy-backed off a quartz base. The third evolution occurred in 1996, when Luigi Macaluso transformed it into the automatic luxury sports watch that remains very similar to the one we’re looking at today.
Last week GP revealed the Laureato’s most recent major overhaul, in the shape of a brand-new, fully formed collection featuring everything from two-tone tourbillons to dainty 34mm quartz models. The sweet spot of the pack is this 42mm steel model, which is available in a few different dial variations, though we have a hunch this blue option will be the real crowd favourite.
This release takes the limited edition launched in 2016 and improves on it in a few key ways. The case has been bulked up slightly to 42mm, while the bezel has been refined and given a brushed finish that befits its sporty style. Meanwhile, the watch is now powered by the in-house GP1800, which is very nicely finished (apologies for the sticker on the back – it was impossible to remove) and fills out the case – rated to 100m, by the way – nicely. The other great thing is the very competitive pricing – especially compared to other players in the space.
Yes, the Laureato is a very ‘safe’ release, but that’s just good business sense and very par for the course in 2017. Girard-Perregaux has always been a consistently underrated brand – they’ve got all the elements (history, great movements, solid pricing) you could want, but beyond some of their top-tier releases they never seem to get the reception they deserve. The Laureato could well be the watch that starts to change all that.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Australian pricing
Girard-Perregaux Laureato, steel on bracelet, $16,000