Speaking of high quality, the hobnail (or Clous de Paris) pattern dial is a joy to look at as well. The countless rows of little pyramids have well-defined edges and give the dial a lot of volume, while the metallic silver base color of the dial helps highlight the way light plays in countless different ways on the four sides of them. While the pattern doesn’t have that magically raw yet refined, hand engine-turned look that some Breguet, George Daniels, Voutilainen and few other exceptionally made dials do, this one is still among the more interesting and high-end-looking dials you can get for this price. Much nicer to look at than the cheaper, boring lacquered dials ubiquitous even in this mid-$10k range.
Features include central hours and minutes, running seconds at 3, a nicely done, non-obtrusive date at 4:30, as well as a 12-hour chronograph. The latter is operated via screw-down pushers which although help the Laureato 38mm Chronograph maintain its admirable 100m water resistance rating, are finicky and rather annoying to use due to their small size. The way the lugs curve outward makes it difficult to grab the tiny, octagonal pieces which give little feedback on when they’ve been fully unscrewed. A good point must be given though for needing just half a full turn to unscrew or secure them.
The one gripe of mine that was difficult to put my finger on but have at last identified is the location and size of the chronograph sub-dials. I can’t help but feel the watch would have more presence had it had wider sub-dials. I mean, they do eat into the indices and that does make them appear larger than they really are, but somehow Girard-Perregaux still managed to make them look a bit too small on an already compact watch. This reminds me of the dreadful large-watch-small-movement look, and it is precisely the lack of this look that allows me to enjoy these smaller chronographs so much. Here, I feel, that issue is not mitigated but rather emphasized, which may be to the taste of some, it just isn’t to mine. To its credit, the smaller sub-dials lend a more refined look, as opposed to something sportier that the larger circles would perhaps entail.
The movement inside the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph 38mm is the GP03300-0135, which is GP’s own 3300 base caliber with a chronograph module on top. Composed of 361 parts as per their website and 435 as per their official press release (come on now…), there’s a lot going on in this rather small, just 25.95mm wide and impressively thin, 5.75mm thick caliber. Running at 4Hz, this Côtes de Genève, perlage- and anglage-decorated movement provides a power reserve of 46 hours – not great, but not bad either from a movement this narrow and thin, fitted to a small, 38mm watch.
The piece I have received is clearly marked as not for sale, so I’ll chalk up its entirely unacceptable 3-5 minute daily loss in timekeeping to it being a loaner that’s either had a hard life (which is not showing on its exterior), or a piece that hasn’t been adjusted. I have received entirely non-functional pieces for review from other brands which I’ve had to send back – this isn’t great, but at least I could check other functions like pusher feedback, crown action and so on – all of which were average, nothing noteworthy or unique. The base 3300 caliber has been around for a long while now and is widely used in a variety of Girard-Perregaux watches, and while it looks decent, this time it is hidden behind a solid case-back.
Overall, I’m deeply impressed with the Laureato Chronograph. It’s Girard-Perregaux doing what I have for long been waiting for them to do with the Laureato: to make it into something that can stand up against those favorites in this segment who I think have gotten a bit too comfortable in their position lately.
The Laureato is by no means cheap, it’s standing in the luxury segment with both feet, but at least it acknowledges the details such a watch has to get right and it gets most all of them right. Quality of execution all around is a joy to look at, which is refreshing at a time when so many models even in this price segment are unashamedly cutting corners. The 904L steel case, bezel and bracelet, as well as the panda dial (which other brands don’t seem to want to get right or do at all) are all impeccably finished with neat details throughout. The modular movement is an OK solution since nearly nobody seems to get overly excited (to pay) for any integrated chronograph that does what all other chronographs are doing – and developing a new one from scratch for GP’s volumes is just not feasible.
If GP can get those looking for one of the popular (maybe too popular for their own good) pieces to actually take a Laureato Chronograph into their hands in the boutiques, I’m sure they’ll find it will do well, and that’s especially true if they can do good work at clearing up the grey market that hurts their resale. All in all, I can see myself pick a Laureato over the others and I don’t think I’d see myself looking back… Just give it a micro-adjust for the bracelet, darn it.
Price for the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph 38mm is €14,000 with 20% VAT included. girard-perregaux.com
>Model: Laureato Chronograph 38mm 81040-11-131-11A
>Price: €14,000 with 20% VAT included
>Size: 38mm wide, 10.90mm thick.
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: One who enjoys (and can afford) a high-end chronograph with all its details – but wants it not from the usual selection already out there.
>Best characteristic of watch: A strong package. Good attention to detail in both design and execution. Good size, water resistance, legibility, wearing comfort, and lots of various options available.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Definitely missing a micro-adjust and perhaps a see-through caseback.