The new Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute collection was a bit of a surprise for a few reasons when it was announced this year at SIHH. Just two years after the historic Swiss brand introduced the full range of the revamped Laureato, Girard-Perregaux releases this bolder and sportier iteration of their most famous collection. We covered the Laureato Absolute chronograph version back in January, but I wanted to take a look at the simple three-hand model that’s intended to be an everyday watch for a different demographic than the brand typically reaches out to.
Girard-Perregaux has had a remarkable past three years. During the short but impactful time Antonio Calce was brand CEO (2015-2018), the brand discontinued their “Hawk” collection. If you’ll remember, the Sea Hawk and Chrono Hawk were the primary sports watch offerings from Girard-Perregaux from about 2012 through 2016 when the brand was run by Michele Sofisti. Of course, the historic Laureato was discontinued in 2012 and returned in 2016, though the versions that were being produced in 2012 were models like the Evo 3 so it was probably necessary to wipe the board clean and start over with the revival Laureato of 2016. (Side note, older Girard-Perregaux Sea-Hawk watches like the reference 7100 or 7300 were very attractive and I’d love to see these get a Laureato-like comeback)
Patrick Pruniaux now runs two Kering Group brands as he took over as CEO of Girard Perregaux in late 2018, about a year after he became CEO of Ulysse Nardin. Of course, as almost everyone reading this already knows, Mr. Pruniaux worked at Apple before the Ulysse Nardin gig, helping launch the Apple Watch in the UK and Ireland. It probably won’t be until 2020 that we will really begin to see Pruniaux’s vision for Girard-Perregaux but I did want to note the speed and success with which the brand has revived their sport watch collection.
Now, onto the Laureato Absolute watch at hand. I think putting “985ft/300m” rather than “1,000ft/300m” was a clever way to draw attention not just to the impressive water resistance of the watch. Firstly, it’s a way to distinguish yourself from competitors by actually being more accurate, which is a trait you’d think watch brands would be more concerned with getting right since they are supposedly in the professed business of making precision instruments. The case of the Laureato Absolute is in close to black PVD-coated titanium with pretty good finishing. It also has a “controversial” rubber strap with the Girard-Perregaux brand name on it. Not everyone loves this strap but it does certain add personality.
The design and materials in this product make the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute an actual luxury sports watch that can function as a true “everyday wear.” A comfortable rubber strap paired with a not too-flashy dark titanium case with more than enough sport resistance makes for a truly versatile watch that many have not seen from the brand in a while. It can’t be underestimated how appealing worry-free versatility is in even a very expensive watch. People these days more and more watch products that will put up with the abuse from even a jet-setting lifestyle.
The blue gradient sunray-finish dial with the bright red seconds hand on the black PVD case is somehow both an easily distinguishable combination and also a pretty safe design choice. I think it looks great, though and the date-window at 6 o’clock is one of those appreciated touches that should get its due praise. Not everyone likes the red hand – which looks worse in the brand’s marketing images as it does in person. With that said, this watch would also look excellent if the central seconds hand was done in a more demure color.
As said above, what isn’t as unanimously well-received or safe is the decision to the put the words GIRARD and PERREGAUX on either side of the rubber strap (which of course can be replaced). The integrated rubber strap with blue stitching is fantastic… but I can imagine more than a couple of people who are on the cusp of buying a Laureato Absolute only to decide to wait until another strap option without this branding becomes available. Note: I actually see now that Mr. Porter is going to carry this watch that interestingly enough looks like it comes on the strap sans text. It looks so much better, in my opinion.
At 44mm wide, it’s the biggest Laureato out in production at this time as the classic version tops out at 42mm. It’s also thicker at 14.65mm, where the 42mm Laureato is considerably slimmer at 10.88mm thick. What’s pure Laureato is that octagonal case shape that dates back to 1975, and it’s a welcome bolder execution of the design. Girard-Perregaux has successfully refreshed and rebranded the Laureato line over the past three years, and the addition of the more aggressively designed, sporty Absolute collection within such a short time frame is a rarity among Swiss watch brands.
The Laureato Absolute differs from the classic Laureato collection for another reason ,which is that the case back is enclosed. Obviously, this is done for the sake of the water resistance and Girard-Perregaux finds this to be a worthy trade-off for the type of buyer they’re going for here. Inside is the in-house made GP 3300-1060 automatic movement that was actually found in the limited-edition Laureato from 2016, which was replaced with the more attractive GP 1800 in the classic, non-limited Laureato that came a year later in 2017. Fair enough, since the movement isn’t visible anyway. The GP 3300 found in the Laureato Absolute operates at 28,8000 vph and has a 46-hour power reserve.
A good choice from the brand this year, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute is priced at $9,900 USD on the rubber strap which is about $2,000 less than the 42mm steel Laureato on the bracelet. You can learn more at girard-perregaux.com