Strange as it may seem, carbon cases are no longer restricted to the realm of cutting-edge, high-dollar innovative brands. Carbon fiber and composites have become an increasingly common sports watch fixture at nearly every price point, and as the watch industry’s advanced materials arms race marches on, brands must find new ways to keep pushing technical boundaries with carbon cases. Girard-Perregaux stands at the head of this drive towards new and innovative carbon compounds, and its latest innovation in this field aims to cover carbon fiber’s traditional weaknesses while creating a striking new striated look. The new Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech’s intensive new case production process offers the best of both carbon fiber and titanium, together with an aggressive, ultra-modern feel that suits this chunkier take on the integrated Laureato design handsomely.
The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech’s carbon-titanium composite case is the centerpiece of its design, and the process of creating this hybrid material is anything but simple. To begin with, minuscule unidirectional strands of non-braided carbon fiber are imbued with powdered titanium to create ultra-fine sheets of base material. These sheets of titanium-imbued carbon are then stacked at various orientations (to avoid directional weaknesses in the final material) and heat-molded into an octagonal case blank. Finally, Girard-Perregaux CNC mills the octagonal blank into the final case form and then hand-finishes the entire case surface. The end result combines the ultra-lightweight, hard properties of carbon fiber with tensile strength and structural rigidity comparable to stainless steel, which handily covers the sometimes brittle nature of pure carbon fiber.
In terms of the overall wearing experience, however, the Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech still feels familiar. At 44mm wide and 15.1mm thick, it’s not a small watch by any metric, but clever ergonomics and the reliable slimming power of black work together to keep things impressively balanced on the wrist. The overall form is carried over from other carbon iterations of the Laureato Absolute Chronograph, including a set of short, abruptly downturned integrated lugs that help the watch to wrap around smaller wrists effectively. While the case shape, with its layered octagonal bezel, angular case side chamfers, and prominent squared-off crown guards, should feel familiar to enthusiasts, the new material imparts its own personality to the design. Rather than a true matte surface, the case finishing is in a nuanced satin style, which works to highlight some of the structural details of the caron-titanium composite. There’s an organic, amorphous striation pattern running throughout the case, separating the design not only into the familiar charcoal gray and black tones of carbon fiber but also metallic gray streaks that line the case surface like veins of ore. These subtly glinting veins harmonize well with the silky case finishing, allowing for an impressive amount of on-wrist flash for a carbon watch. Like other members of the Laureato Absolute Chronograph line, Girard-Perregaux tops this case with a sapphire display caseback (smoked to a dark gray for this model), and rates the watch for solidly sporting 100 meters of water resistance.
While the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech’s case might introduce a striking and innovative new material to the brand’s stable, the dial is left essentially unchanged from previous iterations. It’s a clean, attractive sandwich design, with eye-catching pointed cutout indices matched to pointed paddle hands. In order to maximize the case’s visual impact, the brand fully commits to a monochrome look here, but adds a layer of visual depth through its use of gradients. The dégradé main dial surface fades smoothly from graphite gray in the center to pure black at the dial edge, and Girard-Perregaux uses this spectrum of gray tones to make each of the three subdials a natural focal point. Like the hour indices, the base surface of the recessed subdials cuts through to the silver lower layer of the dial, throwing these valuable displays into sharp contrast with their surroundings. However, this cutout design philosophy doesn’t always work in the Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech’s favor, as the deeply recessed, unframed cutout date window at 4:30 is sure to prove controversial among enthusiasts.
Like the rest of the series, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech is powered by the brand’s in-house GP03300-1058 automatic chronograph movement. Although the smoked display caseback tends to hide some of the complexity of the finishing here, the tight perlage of the mainplate, blued screws, polished anglage, Côtes de Genève for the bridges, and curving Côtes de Genève for the rotor all come together to create an impressive amount of visual drama. In terms of performance, the GP03300-1058 offers a decent-if-unspectacular 46-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Girard-Perregaux fits the Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech with an integrated rubber deployant strap to complete the look on the wrist. Shared with several other Laureato Absolute Chronograph iterations, this strap is sharply chamfered to flow directly into the integrated lugs and sports a broad fabric-effect textured segment in the center. On the wrist, this strap is soft and pliable, but with enough structure to match the thickness of the carbon-titanium case.
As carbon cases become more affordable and commonplace than ever before, luxury nameplates are striving for ways to push new boundaries with the material. The new Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech succeeds in pushing carbon composites into new territory both technically and aesthetically, while also delivering an aggressive, contemporary take on the integrated luxury sports chronograph. The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for this watch stands at $26,700 USD as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.