IN-DEPTH: Girard-Perregaux Laureato Vs. the Laureato Absolute Chronograph – the Beauty and The BeastThor Svaboe
If you were to pick Girard-Perregaux’s Jekyll & Hyde, this would be the pair of watches that fit the bill; the Laureato 38mm and the Laureato Absolute Chronograph. Girard-Perregaux is a distinguished but quiet presence on the horological scene, and have a history whose shadow and depth extends well beyond the brand’s current day reputation. And when we are talking about the modern era and the category du jour: steel sports watch with integrated bracelets, GP are well and truly in the game with the Laureato range, reissued in 2017, based on the 1975 hit.
This, however, is a tale of two brothers separated at birth, one being raised as the pampered prince-to-be in the castle, slim and perfectly honed. His more menacing namesake has spent life growing up in the dark dungeons below, training to be a gladiator, strong as an ox with a dark brooding presence.
The nobility of the Girard-Perregaux Laureato 38mm
The 38mm Girard-Perregaux Laureato is a watch that, for me, has that enviable quality of instantly feeling at home on the wrist, and like many sub-40mm models, it will undoubtedly make you reconsider the larger pieces in your collection. The Laureato 38mm with a silver dial has a delicate but strong presence you don’t expect from pictures; sporty, yet very light, with an exemplary bracelet.
There is no getting away from the dial stealing your attention, so we’ll start there. I picked this up mainly because of the sweet spot of 38mm – as I admit to being a sucker for blue dials, and a blue 42mm Laureato was beckoning (read Andrew’s tale of giving in to that pull here) me with its deep lustre. The 42mm is still a perfect size in 2020, but not for my twiggy wrists, so the tone-on-tone silver with steel felt like the second choice in the colour stakes, but I was mistaken.
It takes only a fleeting glance at one of the shots to widen your horizons to include dials seemingly bereft of colour but strong of presence. The Clous de Paris structure of the dial is something we recognise from another reference of integrated bracelet fame, but only at first glance, as you notice the sharp nature of the microscopic pyramids of Girard-Perregaux.
Reflections from the slightest touch of sunlight as it bounces off the dial background are fascinating, transfixing your gaze as you try in vain to evaluate the other constituent parts of the watch. The plaque-like application of text is balanced, with its traditional Girard-Perregaux font below 12 and above 6, and the applied GP lettering — a 12 marker — floats regally above the Clous de Paris surface. The date is discreetly placed at 3, the classic font delighting in small details like a semi-open 6, while the smooth silver outer minute track and sharp arrowhead applied indices accentuate a more sporty nature.
Let’s address the octagonal shaped contentions first. Yes, I will concede an octagonal to be present. This is carried on from its 1975 quartz ancestor, is rather rounded off and sitting on a polished circular base. The distinct but gentle two-part shape bereft of screws is different enough to halt any lengthy discussions, and an octagonal is a strong ’70s design clue per se. You wouldn’t naturally pair an octagon and a circle and expect brilliance, but these two shapes work cohesively with the smooth shape of the case body, horizontally brushed with clear striations in the steel carried onto the bracelet, bringing both interest and cohesion.
With the silver-dialled version you notice the shape play even better as colour contrasts are missing. The detail work is as exquisite as it should be at this price level, and I particularly enjoy the super slim bevel running the length of the case, barely visible if only to accentuate the shape. At a positively slim 10.02mm in height, it sits like a dream on the wrist, the hugging shape of the case only underlining the comfort.
An integrated bracelet
This has the makings of infatuation, with the bracelet having the same discrete bevel along the outer edge, and a fitment tolerance that makes it as one with the case. The light bracelet is a serious bit of H-link kit and poses a good contrast to the brushed case with its large polished centre links. Dramatically tapering with an unobtrusive butterfly clasp, it sits securely on the dressy side of sportiness — for me, a niche I seem to find myself firmly placed into, and I thoroughly enjoy this lithe wrist presence.
There is a particular coolness on the temperature scale that the one-ness of silver and steel brings, which instead of being sterile, somehow accentuates the beauty and underlines the shape-play of the piece, with the dial leading the way.
Girard-Perregaux is well known for their in-house movements, the ébauche of the 3300 movement having been used among others by the masters of space-age haute horlogerie MB&F in their Horological Machines. The calibre GP03300-0030 is a beautifully decorated classic automatic 28,800 vph (4Hz) movement of a slender 3.36mm height with a 25.6mm diameter. We can clearly make out the expected high standard of bevelling and Côtes de Genève decoration on this 27-jewel movement, which, with its sapphire caseback, gives the Laureato 38mm a 100m WR.
How to conclude
The 38mm Laureato is an outlier in the precious game of top-tier sports chic on bracelet. If, like me, you relish being a slight contrarian and would love something not instantly recognisable on a bracelet for AUD$10-15,000, I recommend you take a second look. You might realise that the language it speaks is one of quiet preciousness with a sporty twist, and the words slender and comfortable will be among the first to come up …
The brooding darkness of the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph
Now this is a completely different beast; intimidating even. With its black muscular body, you can recognise the octagonal shape of the bezel with a circular base on a swoopy case, but everything is on a beefed-up scale. This has the look of a tank-like appendage that will follow you into battle and take no prisoners, and has the distinction of being one of the few watches I know with the intriguing combination of black case and a dazzling blue sunray dial.
I remember seeing the first press shots and getting the feeling that it shouldn’t work. But it does, and in spades. The impression is one of boldness, in brash opposition to the rest of the Girard-Perregaux range, as this is pure Big Bang territory, and it is a strong contender for those bold of wrist.
A dark yet intriguing dial
In an intriguing fashion, the blue pulls the eyes in to appreciate the delicate dial details of recessed pointed indices with an outer applied rectangle of Super-LumiNova and an angled rehaut minute track. The GP logo at 12 and the pure white of the text, markers and seconds hand creates a lively contrast and ups the legibility to a good degree in spite of the dark nature of the beast. The latest model has a black handset, whereas this has the previous polished iteration, bringing a welcome tinge of reflection to the dial. The classic layout of the registers is brought into a very contemporary setting with the sloping edges and black recessed centres, a look that is fresh when juxtaposed with the crisp white text. The date is small and unobtrusively placed at 4.30 with a black date wheel.
The basic Laureato shapes of an octagon within a circle are present, but from there things go through a metamorphosis, from the blocky downturned ends of the case being creased and steeply angled downwards, not gently curved like its noble brother. The same muscular strength is echoed in the broad bevel on the case side, which follows the sharp angle on the lugless end.
The brushing is horizontal, and the bevels polished, with everything feeling larger, fitter and battle-ready. The screw-down crown rests inside a large extending piece, which becomes de facto crown guards, while the chronograph pushers are large, gently convex, with a delicate blue line intersecting the middle. The beefiness and large screw-down crown also has a purpose, as this has the tested confidence of a full 300m submersion on what I can only imagine to be a dangerous stealth mission. This is by no means a small watch at 44mm and a height close to 15mm, so it must be a heavy wrist monster?
This is where you’ll be surprised, as the dark Laureato has an ace up its sleeve. The perfect brushing and polishing work suggests steel, but this is PVD treated titanium. The first time I tried it on at an AD brought genuine surprise, as it does not carry the way the bulky case suggests – and that’s a good thing. With the patterned, broad but tapered and soft silicon rubber strap it sits very comfortably for a 44mm. The way the lugless case has a dramatic wrist-hugging angle makes it a large but ergonomic beast — probably the biggest surprise of this encounter. So, the tough face of a fighter hides a comfortable sports watch: quite large for 2020, but we all know that black is slimming.
The manufacture movement
Within the dark case of the Laureato Absolute Chronograph sits the manufacture movement calibre GP03300-1058. This is a self-winding chronograph movement with the usual 28,800 vph (4Hz), 419 components and 63 jewels, with a decent 46-hour power reserve. Concealed behind a nicely decorated caseback sits a fully decorated movement with Côtes de Genève, circular graining and bevelling on a detailed par with its silver sibling. So this is the final clue in this tale of two brothers, the Haute Horlogerie family heart beating inside the broad-shouldered Laureato Absolute Chronograph, a true blood brother despite its dark visage.
My personal conclusion was one of initial intimidation, followed by a respect for an unusual colour combination that works due to the intrinsic detail work, making this tough yet sophisticated. Go forth with this on and you shall remain undefeated. The finishings and colours are now increased, as you’ll see here at Girard-Perregaux, the volume turned up to 11 with the Absolute Carbon Glass we covered here.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato 38mm and Girard-Perregaux Absolute Chronograph price and availability:
The Girard-Perregaux Laureato 38mm is $15,800 AUD (circa $11,300 USD)
The Girard-Perregaux Absolute Chronograph is $18,600 AUD (circa $13,300 USD)
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