Girard-Perregaux is using the Laureato collection as its battering ram to break into the kingdom of the “luxury sports watch”. Suffice it to say that there are only 25 different models in the Bridges family, 44 models in the 1966 collection… and nearly 75 Laureato watches. And let’s keep in mind that the modern version has only been around since 2016, a rebirth Brice reported in its day. Arguably the favourite complication of the general public, no collection or brand can do without a chronograph in its ranks and these Laureato Chronograph comprise a flawless formation.
Of course, there is an argument beloved by purists that would kill the purpose of this article and start a new discussion: “meh, this watch is a copy of…” Indeed, as explained by Brice, the Laureato was born three years after Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, but one year before the PP Nautilus or the IWC Ingenieur. Its birth date and the fact that the Laureato was in production for more than twenty years proves its legitimacy.
But does it look like the Royal Oak? Yes, because the RO started a stylistic trend that others followed (and nobody complained about). Just have a look at the excellent video on the origins of the Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas to see what I mean. We came across the exact same argument about the shape of the Piaget Polo S, even though the bezel was inspired by the now-forgotten Emperador models.
So let’s put aside the discussion (although I fear it will come up again with any new model we come across) and let’s focus on what the Laureato Chronograph has to offer.
two sizes, two metals
If your idea is to seduce as wide a public as possible, the more options the better, and that has been the formula behind the Laureato Chronograph. You can find it in gold and in steel, in 42 and in 38mm, with a metal bracelet and with an alligator leather strap. You won’t find it in two-tone steel and gold though – at least for the moment.
The steel used is 904L, not the traditional 316L. The main difference between the two is that 904L has a high level of chromium that makes it more resistant to corrosion and can withstand a higher level of polishing. In return, it is more difficult to machine than normal steel and needs specific machinery for its construction. The first company using 904L steel is usually believed to be Rolex, back in 1985 with a special 904L alloy – the one Rolex calls “Oystersteel” – but was, in fact, Omega in the early 1970s with the Ploprof 600m, made in Uranus Steel (commonly known as 904L steel).
But since durability and resistance to corrosion are only proven over time, and not when we buy the watch, the first impression 904L steel transmits is one of high quality and luxury. Both the case and the bracelet look and feel really good, with a mix of brushed and polished surfaces on par with the quality Girard-Perregaux has always been known for. And since the maximum height is 11.90 mm – on the 42mm version – and only 11.08mm on the 38mm version, that “luxury sports watch” feeling is even bigger. The metal bracelet looks particularly good with those satin-brushed “H’s” on the front and polished edges matching the central links. Comfortable and elegant, and water-resistant up to 100 metres.
There is a wide variety of dials on the Laureato Chronograph collection: black and white “Panda”, black with blue sub-dials, and two tones of blue. Any of the combinations work just fine, so it is more a question of personal taste – whether you want to make it sportier (the Panda look) or dressier (the black and the blue). The base of the dial is made of a stamped Clous de Paris pattern, which looks well-executed even under a magnified close inspection. Let’s not forget that Girard-Perregaux’ decorations have always been excellent.
Indexes fly over the dial because they are part of the outer rim, which is slightly elevated. Add to this the hands and the circular decoration of the three registers and you get a certain degree of depth and an impeccable reading of all data – even in the dark, thanks to the Super-LumiNova on the hands and indexes.
Any drawbacks? It is only a matter of personal taste, but I find the sub-dials a tad small, with a certain 1990s feel to them. And then there is the date window, which perhaps could have been located in one of the registers (the numeral 15 of the small seconds or the 6 of the 12-hour register look like adequate locations). At least the window has the same colour as the dial.
a respected calibre
As I mentioned, the height of the watch is quite contained, and that’s mostly thanks to the use of the GP 3300-0135/38 calibre. It is a variation of the venerable GP 3000, which has been ticking since 1994 and that is well known for its slim height of 6,5mm. It beats at 28,800 vib/hour and has a 46-hour power reserve. This modular movement is well decorated, but in this case, the back has no sapphire glass.
The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph is a very well-made watch that will appeal to many because it feels really luxurious and has a price tag that does not go through the roof. The 38mm model on an alligator strap has a price of CHF 13,600. If you prefer the steel bracelet, the price is CHF 14,400, and if your choice is gold, then the price goes up to CHF 29,600. If you prefer the 42mm diameter, the prices for the equivalent options would be CHF 14,200, CHF 15,000 and CHF 33,700. More information at Girard-Perregaux.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.