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Girard-Perregaux - Back in Time :  « Laureato »

Girard-Perregaux Back in Time : « Laureato »

The Laureato was created at the same time as the concept of the “sports chic” watch. It started out simple, became complicated and then went back to basics. Here’s a look at the life and times of a watch in its prime, now approaching its 45th year.

The Laureato was born in 1975 from the pen of Girard-Perregaux’s in-house designer, Adolfo Natalini. The origin of the watch’s name is something of a mystery. One theory is that there was an Italian distributor who was a great fan of the Mike Nicholls film “The Graduate” (Il Laureato in Italian) starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. A more prosaic explanation is that the watch was a “laureate” of its early chronometry tests. 

The original design featured an integral bracelet, an octagonal bezel strongly inspired by the work of Gérald Genta, and subtly alternating matt and polished surfaces across the case and bracelet. Back in those early days, it was the ideal candidate for the two-tone aesthetic that would become increasingly popular. 

Back in Time :  « Laureato »

The Laureato and its designer

Back in Time :  « Laureato »

The original Laureato, 1975

Gradual evolution

In the 1980s, the majority of the Laureato line was driven by quartz. With a thinner movement, you can have a thinner watch. The hands followed suit: they were very slender, with no room for luminescent filling. The watch wouldn’t be reunited with its SLN (Super-LumiNova) until the 1990s. The 1984 revision brought the Laureato its first complications.

 In 1995, to celebrate the Laureato’s 20th anniversary, Girard-Perregaux decided to relaunch the model. It was equipped with the 11.5 lignes Calibre 3100 automatic movement with three hands and a date. In 1996 this model would be followed by a chronograph – for a while, a new limited series of the Laureato was produced for each Olympic Games (1996 was the year of the Atlanta Games). In 1997 the average price of a Laureato was CHF 4,150. Today, you’ll pay CHF 10,800 for a three-hander in steel with a leather strap.

Back in Time :  « Laureato »

Second evolution, the Laureato Tourbillon Trois Ponts saphir automatic, titanium bracelet and case, and titanium bracelet, platinum bezel © Girard-Perregaux

2005 brought an even sportier version of the Laureato, named the Evo3, designating the model’s third major evolution. Rose gold was combined with leather, and titanium was married with rubber. A rather chunky chronograph (44 mm) was aimed at the all-terrain market, but was not popular enough to earn a permanent place in the catalogue. 2010 saw the advent of a curiosity: Girard-Perregaux celebrated the 40th anniversary of the invention of quartz (a technology of which the maison was an early champion) with a 40-piece limited edition Laureato Quartz, which sold for the rather ambitious price of CHF 11,000. This creation nevertheless boasted a lighter style, refined hands and a more gently octagonal bezel – in short, a design that tipped the balance towards the “chic” side of the sporty-chic aesthetic.

Back in Time :  « Laureato »

Third evolution, the Laureato Evo 3 Chrono Perpetual Calendar © Girard-Perregaux

 

Back to basics

In 2016 the Laureato collection returned once again to centre stage. The idea was to get back to the original version, or as close to it as possible. The famous octagonal bezel was back, alongside the gracefully integrated flexible bracelet and the subtle interplay of polished and satin finishes. Inside was the automatic GP 3300 movement. 

Today, the watch is fitted with the GP01800 movement rather than the 3300, which can still be found in the 1966 collection. What’s the difference? The current GP01800 measures 13¼ lignes (30 mm), which makes it a better fit for the updated 42 mm case than the 11½ lignes (25 mm) of the GP 3300. The latest Laureato also found its power reserve increased to 54 hours. 

Back in Time :  « Laureato »

La Laureato actuelle © Girard-Perregaux

Similarities...

In terms of its overall spirit, the current Laureato comes very close to the original model. Whether from 1975 or 2019, it’s still a sports-chic watch. It has retained the integral bracelet, the alternating polished and matt surfaces, the Clous de Paris dial and the date window at 3 o’clock. The SLN-filled baton hands look thoroughly modern. They are slightly wider, but that’s perfectly in keeping with the larger diameter of the watch.  

... and differences

A two-tone case is still available, although these days the majority of the collection is made up of 100% steel or gold cases. Ceramic has also made an entrance. The 1975 movement was quartz (calibre 350, then 705), but the majority of the 2019 collection is mechanical. The current Laureato has subtly different markers (now filled with SLN), the famous bezel is attached differently, and the crown has been enlarged slightly to go with the bigger case. The timepiece has, with some slight adaptations, kept up with the times. The collection as a whole still covers a wide (too wide?) range, with tourbillon, chronograph, “summer edition”, skeleton, perpetual calendar, triple-bridge, 34, 38, 42 and 43 mm models, but the iconic automatic three-hands plus date model remains a classic for the ages.  

 

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