Girard-Perregaux Absolute Carbon Glass Chronograph
Novel case material - Carbon Glass
300m water resistant depth rating
Limited Edition 100 pieces
Retail Price CHF 15'900
Retail Price EUR 16'000
Retail Price USD 15'900
Retail Price SGD 23'300
Girard-Perregaux presents the Laureato Absolute Chronograph in a revolutionary new material: Carbon Glass – a world premiere. We were at La Chaux-de-Fonds recently where the new watch was revealed, and here is our hands-on review of the new Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Rock.
We see this as a new spark in Girard-Perregaux. Whom we have always admired as having a revolutionary trait within the old world brands. The brand is no stranger to innovation in their watches – from the the world’s first high beat (36,000 bph), self-winding movement in the Gyromatic HF in 1965, to the quartz movement’s standard beat of 32,768Hz became the benchmark for quartz watches in 1971, to the Laureato Evo 3 Tourbillon with its novel use of sapphire glass as a structural component within the movement in 2006. Aesthetically, the watches are always very beautiful. The company somewhat fell on the wayside soon after the death of Gino Macaluso in 2010. The Constant Force Escapement of 2013 was the work of the decade before, and not developed in the post Gino-era. Only the Triaxial Planetarium perhaps stands as notable from this nadir.
And it is only in this last year or so that we are beginning to see the light of innovation being lit brightly again, no doubt in no small way due to the leadership of Patrick Pruniaux, who became CEO in Aug 2018.
In this new watch, Girard-Perregaux presents Carbon Glass, a revolutionary new material in the world of high watchmaking. A worlwide first. True to its tradition of innovation combining aesthetics and functionality, the Carbon Glass is exceptionally regular with a homogeneous finish. The material is 100 times stiffer than steel, and is airtight without a container. Integrating pigmented glass fibres, here in blue, the material is vibrantly alive, seeming in motion, glowing from within.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Rock
The base watch is the same as the GP Laureato Absolute Chronograph introduced in SIHH 2019 which we review in detail here, which then featured a polished and satin-brushed black PVD-treated titanium case. The watch looked rather futuristic when we saw it in Geneva then, but what a surprise when the GP Laureato Absolute Rock – the Carbon Glass model was revealed in La Chaux-de-Fonds on November 7, 2019.
The case, dial and hands
The watch case shape remained the same as the Laureato Absolute – with an octagonal bezel which features a gentle slope to the edge and then dropping onto a round base bezel which sits on top of the stylized tonneau shape case which is at once angular and curved. The case middle looks like it is made as a single massive piece and extends at the crown side with two wing-like crown guards.
The dial layout is not unusual, with the 3 sub-dial design and a date window at 4 making it highly legible and visually balanced. But as we examine the dial, the devil is in the details, and more clever features reveal themselves.
The dial structure is a sandwich design comprising of two superimposed, hollowed plates: the one on top is a dark blue, and the lower one is a deep matte black. The indices are cutouts into the upper to reveal the lower, instead of raised appliqués. The aesthetic is such that it creates a mysterious mood with the deep black markers sunken into the dark blue dial face, but brightened by a dash in lume at the edge.
A sloped, smooth matte rehaut with a white minute markings is at the outer perimeter of the dial. The main dial face features a textured matte surface, and contrasts with the beveled step at the edge of the sub-dials and the concentric circles within. This complexity brings depth to the dial, and makes for an attractive aesthetic. We note that the press photographs (which we did not use, bar one with the rock formation) show that the main dial face is a rough sunburst pattern, but the sample we photographed shows a matte textured surface. The press release specifications stated a matte dial, as we have photographed. The press photographs also show a blue line in the groove on the chronograph pushers, while the watch we photographed had none.
The hour/minute hands are baton shaped with infill of Superluminova. The chronograph seconds hand is a needle like appearance with a lozenge like counter weight.
Carbon Glass is a new material is made from a patented manufacturing process which hinges on the use of extreme compression combined with an injection technique at high-temperature. The result is a block of matter which is homogeneous in all directions. The visual aesthetic of the material is rather striking with the integration of blue glass fibers into the carbon. Each piece is thus unique, with a character of its own. Other colours are possible, but the launch watch has a vibrant blue seen in the shards within, which seem to have a glow of their own.
The major advantage of this technique is that a perfect seal is achieved through the material’s impermeability: GP claims that no other carbon manufacturing technique matches this level of air-tightness without a container. Here, the compression of the material – which has an extremely regular and homogeneous structure which ensures the perfect seal. It remains to be seen if the material is impervious to helium, and if it is, negates the necessity of an escape valve in use for saturation diving. Perhaps a project for a future exploration.
The other key advantage is the tremendous stiffness, here, too, in all three dimensions – which other types of carbon don’t reach. Carbon Glass is also stiffer than steel by a factor of 100. Moreover, it serves purposes that reach beyond pure packaging aesthetics: with a density close to 1, it practically floats in water (the density of steel is approximately 8 and that of titanium 4.5), and feels light on the wrist.
The movement: GP 03300-1058
The case back is also made from Carbon Glass and screwed on to the massive case middle with 6 screws. This imparts an aesthetically magnificent bright streaky blue over the black base.
The case is rated to a water resistance of 50m
300m, signalling the diving intentions. The movement fitted is the GP Caliber GP03300-1058. This is a well tested movement, used in many watches, and have been well received. The movement is designed and manufactured in-house and beats at 28,800 bph with automatic winding with a power reserve of 46 hours.
Edit (June 8, 2020): One of our Readers sent us a query that he had bought one of the watches, but the case back was engraved “150ft / 50m” water resistance. We were puzzled as well, so we asked GP. Here is their explanation:
“After looking into this matter with the GP team, it appears that there was originally a prototype of this watch circulating with an erroneous engraving (300m).
As press and digital content is typically created during the prototype stage and not usually after finished product hits the market, this error unfortunately made its way into a lot of coverage about this particular product launch, which is regrettable.
All I can say is that (the reader’s name redacted) can rest assured his watch’s markings are in fact correct, and that this situation will remain a highly unusual outlier.
Girard-Perregaux certainly appreciate his and your interest in the details and strive to exceed expectations in all ways.”Quote from an email reply to our query. Signed by Meera Anand, Global Head of Public Relations, Girard-Perregaux.
While we could not open the watch up to see the finishing, we are assured by our knowledge of GP, that the finishing is well executed to a high level.
Operationally, the hand-setting and winding mechanism feels smooth and fine. The chronograph buttons operate without any irregularity, and are smooth and offer a even resistance on start/stop and reset.
The first impression when we saw the the GP Absolute Rock was that this is a beautiful watch. The brilliant, irregularly shaped flashes of blue within a black case makes it very attractive. On the touch, the surface is smooth, and feels very nice. We love the look even more after spending some time with the watch. The dials are clear and very legible. The smooth operations of the timekeeping as well as chronograph functions seals the deal, so to speak. And it is comfortable in the way in which the watch wraps around the wrist on rubber straps and the buckle’s micro adjustment system, despite the rather large 44mm diameter. It wears smaller. And feels rather light. At a retail price of S$ 23,300 – it is highly competitive.
We think this is a good step in the right direction for Girard-Perregaux. And this new material of Carbon Glass has many faces left to be explored in use as a case for GP. We also look forward to more innovation, especially in the horology and chronométrie arena from the grand old dame. We did see a few more interesting novelties during our time at the manufacture, but these are under embargo, and we will share them when the time is right. Watch out for the homecoming of Girard-Perregaux!
Photo Notes: all the original photographs (marked with the D watermark), including the Watchscape wallpapers and the CEO portrait were made with the Phase One XF IQ4 150 camera with the Schneider Kreuznach 120mm Macro Blue Line lens, with Broncolor Siros L strobe modified with an umbrella, and a small Canon Speedlight as a rim lighting. This is a top of the line camera gear, and we will do a review soon.
Girard-Perregaux Absolute Rock
Limited to 100 pieces
Material: Carbon glass
Diameter: 44 mm
Glass: Sapphire double anti-reflective
Bezel: Carbon glass octagon
Dial: Composed of two superimposed, hollowed plates: the one on top in black matt finish
Hour-markers: Baton-type with Super-LumiNovaTM. ‘Black or’.
Hands: Baton-type with Super-LumiNovaTM. ‘Black or’.
Case-back: Secured by 6 screws, engraved and lacquered Laureato Absolute logo
Type: Self-winding mechanical movement
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
Power reserve: Minimum 46 hours
Number of components: 419, 63 jewels
Frequency: 28’800 Alt./h. (4 Hz)
Diameter: 25,95 mm (111/2 lines)
Height: 6,5 mm
Material: Black rubber with
a ‘fabric-effect’, blue topstitching
Buckle: PVD-treated titanium,
triple folding with
a micro-adjustment system