Wednesday, October 28

Review: Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Light

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The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute collection – first revealed at the 2019 SIHH, and represented the re-inventing GP icons. The Laureato Absolute Light was recently revealed in La Chaux-de-Fonds (Nov 2019). We managed to photograph the watch, and had some time to examine it in detail. Here is our hands-on review.

We covered another Laureato Absolute watch late last year, which we also saw and photographed at the same event last year. We loved the interpretation of the GP Laureato Absolute Rock, with the innovative use of a carbon glass case. Click on the link to read all about that watch and the new path set by new CEO Patrick Pruniaux.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Light

The Laureato Absolute Light was also revealed in the event in La Chaux-du-Fonds in November, but was under embargo. Patrick showed it at the Dubai Watch Week, but no technical information was available until a few weeks ago.

The case, dial and hands

The case is the same as the one on the Laureato Absolute Rock, but crafted in sapphire glass over a titanium skeleton. The octagonal shaped bezel is entirely in sapphire glass, and is polished, and faceted. This screws onto the case middle, which is also made of a massive piece of sapphire glass. The rear bezel is also octagonal, and held in place by 8 titanium screws which penetrate the three body case and attaches on the other end to the front bezel. The crystalline sapphire case allows for a stunning transparent view of the movement from all sides with a perfect light reflection on its mat and polished surfaces. Hence the name – Absolute Light.

The dial is openworked, and allows a good glimpse into the movement from the dial side. The dial proper is no more than a titanium ring which is cut with raised trapezoid shapes serving as hour markers. The entire ring has a brushed, circular finish The back of the mainplate of the movement is visible on the dial side, and looks like a skeletonized dial. The mainplate is treated in a NAC anthracite finish, and together with the bridges (visible from the case back) feature no less than 4 different finishes.

The case has an integrated strap attachment in titanium, and is delivered with a rubber strap, which feature a buckle with micro-adjustments to ensures wearing comfort. On the wrist, this is proven to be comfortable, with the strap being very supple and conforms to the wrist.

The hands are lancet styled hands and quite big, so as it serves to be legible over the openworked face of the watch. The hands are in-filled with luminous material. A small, similarly shaped and in-filled subsidiary seconds hand is shown at about 10:30 on the dial.

The movement: GP01800-1143

The movement is the based on the Girard-Perregaux workhorse movement the GP01800, which is skeletonized. The movement plates and bridges are plated in a galvanic process to create an anthracite hue. This dark plate and bridge hue contrasts nicely with the rhodium plated gear train.

As the watch is openworked, the movement is visible on both sides of the case. And the finishing on the bridges, the mainplate as well as the rotor is judged to be excellent.

The openwork nature of the movement presents many places for the finisher to take advantage of to showcase the virtuosity. And this movement is delivered with spades of these. The anglage is well executed and picks up light from various angles and provides a beautiful glimmer on the movement. The inside of the skeletonized bridges and rotor feature many inward and outward angles, executed exquisitely with anglage on their edges. The shapes of the bridges also afford the sensually curved shapes to be visible. Of course, the case, being in sapphire glass allows this to be observed from all angles.

The competitive landscape

At S$ 116k, the GP Laureato Absolute Light is by no means an inexpensive watch, given that it features only a three hand automatic movement. But the case is in sapphire glass, giving access to view the movement from all sides is a big factor to push it into the exclusive territory. And in this territory, the options are perhaps more limited.

Richard Mille RM 56-02 has the added complication of a tourbillon within the sapphire cased. It too has a skeletonized movement and is a limited edition of only 10 pieces, and long sold out. The price? Like most RMs, one of the features is stratospheric price tag.

MB&F is perhaps an inhabitant in the landscape. Their MB&F HM6 SV is also “tourbillon enhanced”, and attracts a price tag of CHF 350,000. The case middle for this version, limited to 100 pieces is in red gold, with the upper and lower case in sapphire glass.

The Hublot Big Bang Unico All Black Sapphire (US$57,900) is also available in clear sapphire glass. Each edition is limited to 500, making 1000 pieces in total. The overall aesthetic is perhaps quite similar to the GP, but the Hublot is an in-house UNICO flyback chronograph movement and offered at a lower price.

Concluding thoughts

The GP Laureato Absolute Light treds the new line for Girard-Perregaux. These bold new re-designs of the classical GP watches are part of a daring approach to refresh the brand. And we think they are making good success. We found both the Absolute watches a delight. The Absolute Rock, reviewed earlier wowed us with the new Carbon Glass material. And here in the Absolute Light, GP has chosen to use sapphire glass. The use of sapphire glass is not an entirely new feature for GP. As early as 2006, they pioneered the use of sapphire glass bridges in the Laureato EVO³ Tourbillon in Three Sapphire Bridges.

The Laureato Absolute Light is quite the looker. The aesthetics are modern and we find it to be very attractive. The size of the movement at 44mm feels excellent on the Chief Editor’s wrist, helped in no small way by the supple rubber strap and the deployant buckle’s micro-adjustable mechanism. The movement is nicely finished, and is a well proven workhorse. And of course, the delight of the sapphire glass case, with the novelty and light it brings into the watch is remarkable.

However, if asked to choose between the Absolute Light or the Absolute Rock, our preference would lean towards the carbon glass sibling – for a more exotic look but also for the chronograph, and truth be told, we are not big fans of skeletonized watches. And it is less expensive. But for those who prefer skeletonized watches, and who love the attention of the see-through sapphire case, the Absolute Light is perhaps their best option.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Light

Limited to 88 pieces
Reference: 81071-43-231-FB6A

Case
Material: sapphire and titanium
Diameter: 44.00 mm
Height: 11.56 mm
Glass: anti-reflective sapphire
Case-back: anti-reflective sapphire crystal, engraved “Limited Edition of 88”
Dial: 3D ring with polished triangular indexes
Hands: skeletonized with luminescent material
Water resistance: 30 meters (3 ATM)

Movement
Reference: GP01800-1143
Self-winding mechanical movement
Diameter: 30.00 mm (131/4’’’)
Height: 4.16 mm
Frequency: 28,800 Vib/h – (4 Hz)
Number of components: 172
Number of jewels: 25
Power reserve: min. 54 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds

Bracelet
Material: black rubber with a fabric effect, black stitching
Buckle: titanium, folding with micro-adjustment system

Photo Notes: The GP Laureato Absolute Light was photographed in-situ in La Chaux-du-fonds in November 2019 with the Phase One XF IQ4 150 with Schneider–Kreuznach 120mm f/4 Macro Blue Ring lens, and lighting from a Canon EX580II as a fill light and Broncolor Siros L Monolight as main strobe.

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