Now, if it’s historical accuracy that you’re chasing with the new Laureato, the limited release Anniversary Edition from 2016 which re-launched the modern collection is much closer to the source material, from a design standpoint. As mentioned, it was a limited edition at 225 pieces in each dial color, and is thus considerably rarer than this reference. The 2016 editions are arguably not quite as balanced, as the current variants come with a few thoughtful design tweaks; particularly the welcome increase in water resistance – upped from 30 to 100m, along with a slightly edited applied logo at 12:00, and a subtly adjusted date aperture due to the movement change. Otherwise, both references are visually quite similar.
While the 2016 was only available in a 41mm case, the new Laureato is being produced in four different case sizes. And with the case change, comes a movement change for the three-hand models as well – gone is the GP caliber 3300-0030 used in 2016, replaced with the newer, and more appropriately sized GP01800-0013 for the new cases. This beautifully-finished caliber is a testament to Girard Perregaux’s in-house manufacture, which boasts not just movement production, but finishing as well – all of which is done within the brand’s own manufacture. The power reserve for the movement is a healthy 54 hours.
Evident by that broad range of sizes, complications, and case materials, Girard Perregaux is gambling that the Laureato is one for the masses. Regardless of whether or not that proves to be true, it’s nice that there truly is a size and feature set for everyone. Though the collection starts at 34mm and runs up to 45mm, the sweet spot is really going to be the 38 or this 42mm option – just try one on first before taking the plunge. Proportions and dial aperture felt the best on the 42mm on my 6.5” wrist, but the watch head has a slightly long lug-to-lug measurement for its case diameter. That said, the integrated lugs on the Laureato are turned downward, somewhat dampening the overall length and increasing wearability on a wider range of wrists.
There’s no getting around it any longer. The Girard Perregaux Laureato costs a lot of money – $12,000 to be exact (and that’s actually cheaper than the 2016 limited edition). Now, whether that’s a better value than the competition depends entirely on whether your personal worldview hinges on “better” being associated with resale, legacy, or emotional attachment. Does it matter that Girard Perregaux has historically taken a beating on the secondary market? It absolutely should, if you’re planning on re-selling. Does it matter that GP has provided ébauches to some of the biggest players in the game (including Vacheron Constantine, who used the GP Caliber 3100 in the first generation of the Overseas)? Definitely, if a brand’s individual contributions to horology are important to you. Does the shape of the bezel really matter? It shouldn’t, but it does because the Laureato’s price point puts it directly in the crosshairs of AP faithful.
Now, if Girard Perregaux had opened the asking price for the Laureato in the 8–10k range, it could have saved itself a considerable amount of criticism, right out of the gate. But ambitious price point aside, on its own, from a build quality, finishing, and chronometric performance standpoint, the Laureato is easily capable of going toe-to-toe with any of the aforementioned heroes against which it is competing. However, it’s also worth noting that neither of those watches were priced as such overnight. It took years of brand building, incremental improvements, and relative scarcity (and subtle inflation) to establish value in the mind of consumers. I’d even argue that the Laureato is not a watch that should be competing with the Royal Oak right now – and not because one is superior to the other, but because one has an earned status, having spent time marinating in the consciousness of collectors worldwide as a true, luxury product. Even if the GP were superior on paper, it will take time to be able to compete as an equal in the minds of collectors – and only time will tell if patience is a luxury that Girard Perregaux possesses.
At the end of the day, we’ve seen it all before; radical, innovative new designs (here’s looking at you, Genta) are the ones that ultimately create the heroes in new categories, but it’s minor tweaks and subtle iterations to those foundational designs which push those categories as a whole forward. Other notable entrants like the Glashutte Original Senator Seventies and the Piaget Polo S also seem to have gotten the memo, and are doing their part to best iterate on the staid luxury sport watch mold. Purely hypothetically speaking, what would the watch landscape look like if no one took a stab at its most iconic shapes? That’s why it is probably best to look at the Laureato not as a viable challenger to the throne, but as fresh blood – a smart iteration whose evolution will create innovative new watches, open up better value propositions, and push the genre forward. And that’s good news for all of us. Just remember, if something was destined to matter, it’s meant to cause a little controversy along the way. Again, price for this piece is 11,200 CHF. girardperregaux.com
>Brand: Girard Perregaux
>Model: Laureato 42mm ref. 81010-11-131-11A
>Price: 11,200 CHF
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Absolutely.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: The guy who never liked the Royal Oak in the first place, but owned (and sold) one simply for lack of alternatives.
>Best characteristic of watch: A proper sports watch with 100m of water resistance, with exceptional build quality, finishing, and wrist presence. Truly feels like a luxury product that’s filled with interesting details at every viewing angle.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Potentially polarizing design aesthetic. And though entirely deserving of competing in the space, the price point is unrealistic, at best.