June 25, 2022
Even for those cars that will never reach the top step of the podium or contend for a championship, Formula One is the technical pinnacle of motorsports. Most cars that race in this series don’t earn the glory of a championship title, but still represent some of the world’s finest engineering and cutting-edge technical solutions. The majority of these cars don’t spend their post-racing years lavished with care in a museum, or memorialized at vintage racing events, but instead fade quietly into obscurity in a race team’s warehouse. Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team’s 2021 challenger, the AMR21, was one of these cars. Outside of a heroic second place finish at the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in the hands of team driver Sebastian Vettel, the AMR21 failed to make much of an impact over the course of the 2021 season, and at the end of the year the two AMR21 chassis seemed destined to live out a quiet, uneventful retirement. Team sponsor Girard-Perregaux had other ideas. Rather than slowly fading from memory out of public view, part of these racing chassis would be used to create a series of limited edition Laureato Absolute Chronograph models, celebrating the innovation and materials engineering that goes into creating a modern Formula One car. The result is the limited-run Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition, which combines unique and dynamic materials with eye-catching finishing, deftly integrated co-branding, and a comfortable wearing experience.
The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition’s case is, in many ways, the main event for this watch. This isn’t the first carbon-cased Laureato Absolute Chronograph, but here the brand takes a new approach, blending reclaimed carbon elements from the Aston Martin AMR21’s chassis with resin and powdered titanium to create a lightweight, durable material with a surprising depth of visual detail. Not all carbon composite cases are created equal, and Girard-Perregaux’s proprietary blend allows for a handsome aggregate effect that creates a variety of visual highlights and shadows, along with a nuanced British racing green tinge to the resin binding material that hints at the source of this carbon fiber.
The overall form is the same as the rest of the Laureato Absolute Chronograph series, and while the mottled matte case material can hide or flatten some of the cases shapes on the wrist (particularly the angles of the octagonal stepped bezel and the tapering chamfers on the integrated lugs), it does give the design an ultra-modern sporting edge. The other great benefit of this material, beyond its durability and provenance, is its extremely light weight. It isn’t often that a 44mm-wide, 15.15mm-thick case can disappear on the wrist, but the Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition benefits from both the low overall weight of carbon and the slimming effect of black to create an extremely comfortable and well-proportioned wearing experience on the wrist. Even for my relatively flat seven-inch wrist, the sharp downturn and short length of the integrated lugs help this design to wrap around effectively and maintain a stable profile. In addition, the feel of the material is silky and undeniably premium on the wrist. Girard-Perregaux opts for black PVD-coated titanium for the Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition’s screwdown crown and rectangular pushers, but here the brand adds an extra layer of discreet Aston Martin branding with accent stripes in the team’s signature British racing green and lime green hues. Around back, Griard-Perregaux fits the watch with a sapphire display caseback (a first for the Laureato Absolute Chronograph line), topped with a printed Aston Martin Formula One Team emblem. This is the only piece of overt Aston Martin branding anywhere on the watch, but does unfortunately obscure the view of the ornately finished in-house movement within. Girard-Perregaux claims a solid 100 meters of water resistance for this design.
Like the case, the dial of the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition is an exercise in restrained, implied co-branding. The overall layout is remarkably simple and open for a modern three-register sports chronograph, with a clean and sloping outer rehaut in black with attached indices and a subtle chronograph seconds scale in raised gray. This gives the main dial surface an almost uninterrupted sweep, with plenty of visual real estate to showcase its deep color and unique finishing. Girard-Perregaux once again adds several layers of discreet Aston Martin references here, with an engraved diamond pattern that dates back to Aston Martin’s 1921 logo design and still makes prominent appearances as a stitching pattern for modern Aston Martin passenger car interiors. The British racing green of the dial surface itself is an exact match for the paint color used on the AMR21 Formula One car, complete with a metallic effect that’s rarely seen in watchmaking. Coupled with an aggressive, dynamic sunburst effect, this gives the dial a range of hues from a nearly black forest green to vivid emerald depending on light conditions.
The brand’s decision to visually reduce the subdials to sloping raised rings in black helps to feed this feeling of open simplicity, but the use of tight azurage for the subdial surfaces themselves introduces another layer of visual depth to the layout. Girard-Perregaux codes the two most important chronograph functions – the central chronograph seconds hand and the 9 o’clock chronograph minutes subdial – in Aston Martin’s eye-catching lime green as an effective highlight that aids at-a-glance legibility. The use of Aston Martin’s signature fender vent design as a counterweight for the central chronograph seconds hand gives this design another nuanced wink to automotive cognoscenti, without resorting to overt branding and potentially clumsy dial text. The only notable misstep in this dial design is its 4:30 date window, with a crude cutout execution and a mismatched date wheel that draws the eye away from the otherwise balanced and uncluttered layout.
Girard-Perregaux powers the Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition with its in-house GP03300-1058 automatic chronograph movement. Thanks to the sapphire display back, Girard-Perregaux allows wearers their first glimpse of this movement in this series, and on the aesthetic front the results are spectacular. There’s a wealth of detailed finishing on the GP03300-1058, ranging from circular Côtes de Genève and gold-inlaid engraving on the winding rotor to polished anglage, Côtes de Genève, and blued screws on the bridges, topped by a mainplate with ornate small-scale perlage. Both in person and in photos, this is a dramatic look, and while there’s not much in the way of skeletonization or exotic layout work there’s more than enough to reward long glances. Unfortunately, the GP03300-1058’s performance doesn’t quite measure up to its eye-catching appearance. Over the course of our testing period, the movement averaged a decent accuracy of -7 seconds per day, but given the nearly $30,000 price point the GP03300-1058’s 46 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate feels undeniably pedestrian. With that said, so much of the experience of a chronograph comes down to the feel of operation. Like a precise gated shifter or a well-oiled bolt action rifle, the process of operating a mechanical chronograph can be an exercise in tactile joy, and on this front the GP03300-1058 delivers well. Both pushers are a remarkably light touch, with a smooth operation that offers just a hint of a satisfying mechanical click.
Girard-Perregaux fits the Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition with an integrated strap in its proprietary Rubber Alloy material. This combines additional carbon reclaimed from the Aston Martin AMR21 chassis with traditional FKM rubber (although Girard-Perregaux is mum about the proportions of carbon and rubber used here). On paper, one would assume a strap made partially from carbon fiber would be stiff and uncomfortable, but in practice, the Rubber Alloy composite is exceedingly supple and soft right out of the box. The central fabric-effect segment in British racing green gives this design an extra punch of color and texture, without disrupting the overall flowing sculpted profile.
With intelligently integrated nods to Aston Martin and its racing legacy, sumptuous finishing throughout, and a lightweight, comfortable wearing experience, the limited edition Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition is a glorious second life for a racing chassis that would otherwise fade into obscurity. Only 306 examples of the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers. One item to note, however, is the steep price premium over its stablemates. With an MSRP of $27,800 USD, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition commands over $8,000 more than comparable carbon-cased Laureato Absolute Chronograph models without the AMR21 provenance. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition
>Price: $27,800 USD
>Size: 44mm-wide, 15.15mm-thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a flex-worthy sports watch, or when attending races and automotive events.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Well-heeled racing fans, Aston Martin owners looking for the perfect pairing to their car.
>Best characteristic of watch: Unique material concept, brilliant dial and movement finishing, subtly integrated co-branding, light and comfortable on the wrist.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Steep pricing increase over the standard model, average movement performance, poor lume.