In 2016, Swiss watch manufacturer, Girard-Perregaux, unveiled a limited edition Laureato timepiece as part of its 225th Anniversary celebrations. The response to this watch was so overwhelmingly positive, the brand decided to follow up with an entire new Laureato collection in 2017, bringing this time-telling legend from the 1970’s back into the fold. With multiple new models available, picking a favourite was always going to be a challenge, but it’s hard to go past the classic 42mm series. There’s just something about a luxury steel sports watch designed in the 1970’s that is undeniably cool.
Was the Laureato inspired by the past?
Although we weren’t around to see first-hand, we’ve been told the ‘70’s was a pretty interesting time, marked by social change, economic recession and of course, bold fashion choices. For the Swiss watchmaking industry, reeling from the ongoing effects of the quartz crisis, it was a particularly difficult period, with many notable names either succumbing to bankruptcy or coming very close. Ironically, in retrospect, it was also quite a dynamic time, as the battle for survival forced traditional brands to experiment well outside of their comfort zones.
One such brand was Audemars Piguet, whose management came to the unpleasant conclusion at the beginning of 1971 that if the company didn’t do something major, and quickly, a financial collapse was inevitable. Based on some feedback from the Italian market about possible interest in a steel luxury watch, a bold decision was made to bet it all on a sporty yet elegant timepiece unlike anything the market had seen before. Designed by Gerald Genta, the Royal Oak would go on to create an entire new segment in the watch market; the luxury sports watch. It would also save AP from bankruptcy and provide the basis for a collection that is still the brand’s best-selling today.
With the luxury sports watch firmly established as a ‘thing’, other brands soon followed with their creations, including Girard-Perregaux, which launched its version in 1975. Although in some ways it looked similar to its competitors (as did most models from that era), with its octagonal polished bezel and integrated bracelet, the Laureato stood out from the crowd for other reasons. For a start, its name was not inspired by sports or sailing, but rather was suggested by Girard-Perregaux’s Italian distributor at the time and inspired by the classic movie, The Graduate (Il Laureato in Italian). Secondly, it was equipped with the manufacturer’s new ground-breaking quartz movement – one of the first serially produced Swiss quartz movements – instead of a thin mechanical movement like those of its rivals. Finally, it was offered in a two-tone – gold and steel – case, as opposed to the all-steel designs seen elsewhere.
Modern day revival of the iconic watch
The new 42mm Laureato collection, introduced in January of this year, offers eight different versions to choose from, which can be broadly grouped into three categories. The first is arguably the closest in design to that original model from 1975, and features a 42mm titanium case paired with a pink gold octagonal bezel and crown. The slate-grey dial features a distinctive “Clou de Paris” (or hobnail) pattern, and the hands and indices are all done in pink gold and filled with lume.
The dial is very clean, with the only other embellishment being a date window at 3 o’clock. The bracelet is also a mix of titanium and pink gold, making the overall feel of the watch very reminiscent of something your dad would’ve worn as he tried to bluff his way into Raymond’s Revue ‘back in the day’. There’s also the option of a leather strap, with a single gold insert for those looking for something a little more classic.
What about the other categories?
The other two categories are a bit more understated, and offer all-steel options with three different dial colours; silver, slate grey and blue, all with that lovely hobnail pattern. All are offered on your choice of a steel bracelet or a leather strap, but it’s worth noting here that one of the key hallmarks of these iconic luxury sports watches of the 1970’s is the integrated metal bracelet, so there’s really only one choice to make here. Closed with a triple-folding buckle for extra security on the wrist, each Laureato is rated water resistant to 10 atm.
Providing the power to this collection is the GP01800 movement, which has been entirely designed, produced, assembled and adjusted by Girard-Perregaux in-house. Visible through the sapphire exhibition caseback, this self-winding movement is comprised of 191 components and beats at a frequency of 21,600 vib/h, offering a minimum power reserve of 54 hours when fully wound. The movement itself has been nicely decorated with Côtes de Genève, circular graining and bevelling.
Functionality is limited to the basics: hours, minutes, seconds and date. Exactly what you need from an all-round, everyday luxury sports watch that makes a statement on the wrist.
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