Girard-Perregaux strengthens her presence in the haute horologie market with the return to SIHH by the re-launch of the Laureato Collection. A complete line revision, the offerings are in line with the “Complications for less” concept which was apparent in the PalExpo this year. The Laureato collection is expanded and now comprises of the base Laureato in three sizes – 42mm and 38mm with automatic movement, and a dainty 34mm with a quartz movement. And the flagship is the Laureato Tourbillon – a single bridge tourbillon offered in a titanium case with pink gold accents, or titanium case with white gold accents. In this review, we analyse the Ti/pink gold version.
The author normally is not a lover of two toned watches, but this GP Laureato Tourbillon caught his eye, and perhaps stole a bit of his heart. Find out why.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon
The Laureato is an important design from Girard Perregaux. It started life in 1976 as a quartz chronometer wristwatch.
Unusual, but not surprising as GP had been at the forefront of quartz design, having designed and produced a quartz movement at 32.768 Hertz in the mid-late 1960s. This frequency became the standard for every quartz watch produced in the world. With the rest of the Swiss Industry, GP’s released her own quartz watch in Baselworld 1970. This was the Beta 21. However, history has it that Seiko beat the Swiss in releasing the first quartz watch in the world in December of 1969. The Seiko Astron, the world’s first quartz watch ran at the frequency that GP had selected.
In 1976, GP announced the Laureato. Fitted with a quartz movement, C.705. The name “Laureato” was supposedly suggested by an Italian importer, from the Italian name for the American comedy-drama The Graduate (Il Laureato in Italian) which came out in 1967.
The first mechanical Laureato was released in 1995 with the GP C.3100. And the famous GP three bridges were incorporated in the Laureato line in 1998.
In 2006, a special series with the iconic three bridges was introduced with a modern twist. The bridges were re-designed, taking inspiration from the original design which appeared in pocket watches in 1889, and a modern material was used to craft them: sapphire crystal. The Laureato EVO³ Tourbillon was a remarkable watch. Not only was it quite expensive, it retailed for CHF 210,000 before taxes, but these was the bad old days of ultra high pricing. And the use of sapphire in bridges was unprecedented. Sapphire is exceptionally hard, second only to diamond, and thus can only be worked by diamond and diamond like tools. The work process is also very slow as the material is very brittle and tends to break when drilled or cut.
The Laureato EVO³ Tourbillon had outstanding aesthetics. The sapphire glass bridges allowed the entire movement to be visible from the dial side. However, it was not a great commercial success. A platinum and titanium piece was sold at Christie’s Sale 1383 on 14 November 2011 in Geneva for a hammer price of CHF 60,000 against a high estimate of CHF 38,000.
The Laureato was brought back in 2016 Baselworld with a basic automatic model. It was a limited edition of 225 pieces in two dial variations, celebrating GP’s 225th Anniversary. It was a commercial success, and this year, GP decided to revive the entire collection with numerous pieces, including the flagship Tourbillon. But they had not chosen to do the Laureato with three bridges. Instead, with a single bridge.
The basic design remains the same. The bezel was an octagon within a circle with an integrated bracelet. It is interesting how the octagonal idea appeared in the early 1970s, first with the iconic Gerald Genta designed Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and later refined by Genta in 1976 in the Patek Philippe Nautilus. And also in the Overseas collection by Vacheron Constantin in 1977 with the 222 designed by Jorg Hysek. The Laureto also appeared in 1976, designed by an unnamed Italian architect.
The DNA of the original is very much present in the new watches, and the basic design has been only tweaked to bring it up to date. Our layman design eyes is hard put to identify any one aspect where it is updated. Perhaps the bezel is a little thinner, the case a bit more angular. To our eyes, the overall effect looks refreshed.
The original Laureato was designed before Luigi “Gino” Macaluso had taken over the company which was in 1992. Under Gino, GP turned into a full fledged manufacture. The brand acquired the ability to design, prototype and manufacture high end mechanical calibers. Trained as an architect, Gino’s eye was the baseline for all the designs, which always exhibited a beautiful sense of proportions and harmony. Gino died unexpectedly in October 2010. In 2011, the Kering Group became majority shareholder of the Sowind Group, a partnership which started in 2008. Gino had used Sowind as a vehicle to own the brands Girard-Perregaux and Jean-Richard. And thus GP became part of the Kering Group who also owns Ulysse Nardin.
Gino’s son Stafano Macaluso (read our conversation with him here) is currently Product Development Director at GP, and continues his father’s legacy. Here are some sketches he sent to Deployant on the development of the Laureato Tourbillon.
The case, dial and hands
As described above, the case shape retains the character of the original Laureato. There was little need to change, as the original case was well designed, pleasant to the eye, and had great proportions. Stefano made some tweaks and elected to use a two tone concept with the new Laureato Tourbillon, with two models being proposed: the review sample of pink gold bezel and bracelet middle links on a titanium case and titanium bracelet, and another with white gold in place of pink.
The harmony of the design remains consistent with the use of the two tones. The integrated bracelet flows harmoniously from the tonneau shaped case, and the bezel, which features an octagon on top of a circle carries the theme further. We find the design to be very pleasing.
The dial is a Clous de Paris hobnail texture with a ring with applique hour markers The hour markers are arrow shaped, and in filled with SuperLuminova. A cut-out showcases the tourbillon. The bridge is designed to imply the shapes used in the Three Bridges, and executed in the two tone motif of the case.
The tourbillon carriage is the classical GP tourbillon, carrying the traditional stylised “A” shape. The tourbillon bridge is a three piece design with a brushed finish to the top (and presumably the bottom, but without a disassembly we have no way to confirm), with a nice anglage applied to its edges. The end pieces of the bridge are in pink gold, and all screws sit on openings prepared with polished chamfered sides.
The hand feel of the 45mm case diameter watch is very pleasing, and the curved design of the case affords a good measure of comfort on most wrists. The case feels delightfully slim, measuring only 11.96 mm, and adds to the wrist comfort.
The entire movement is visible from the sapphire case back,and can be seen, the movement occupies almost the entire case. The GP 09510-0001 is designed and manufactured in-house at GP.
Finishing is quite good, as is the norm for GP tourbillons. All the traditional finnisage elements are address very well. Anglage is very well done, and is even, with the edges polished well to catch the light at various angles. The back plate is finished with Côtes de Genève which look very even and with very light slopes, indicating a high level of handwork in the ruling and cutting of the stripes.
The edges of the tourbillon bridge sit in nicely chamfered apertures which appear to have been polished prior to the bridges’ installation. The screw openings are also similarly prepared, and these are indications of good high end practice.
The single arm tourbillon cock supports the carriage from the back, and it too is finished with a brushed top and anglaged edges.
There are a couple of outward angles on the back plate, and no inward angles.
Neither Patek Philippe nor Vacheron Constantin have a sports watch with a tourbillon. Neither does IWC, who often excel in elegant sporty watches. The competition landscape narrows down to just perhaps two landmark watches, from Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet, both sharing a common technical source in APRP. Another possible option is from Panerai.
All have higher depth rating for water resistance than the GP. We use this as a measure because depth rating is sometimes a proxy measurement for tough watches.
Richard Mille RM27-02 (CHF 734,500, now almost US$ 727,600 in TPT carbon and TPT quartz). The speciality of this watch is its resistance to high shocks (up to 5000G) and its ultra light weight of only 19 grams), rated to 50m water resistance. The use of extreme technology and the mystique of the Richard Mille brand name commands the extreme high price. At this level, the technical superiority of the RM27-02 notwithstanding, the value proposition goes out of the window, and the appeal of the watch takes on its own persona. RM watches continue to do well in the secondary market, and we have seen and continue to witness very strong demand in many markets. A true phenomena.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon. (US$135,800 for stainless steel US$ 165,800 18K rose gold , US$ 281,500 for platinum. The Royal Oak have also had a long standing tradition of having a tourbillon within a sporty watch. The first version was released in 1992 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak. The current edition is available in stainless steel with two dial variations, in pink gold and in platinum. It is housed in a ultra thin case, measuring only 8.85mm, with a water resistant rating of 50m. Curiously, the dial also sports a Clous de Paris style motif which AP calls “Petite Tapisserie”. AP also offers an open worked version for US$ 265,000.
Another potential candidate might be the Panerai Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 PAM 578Tourbillon (US$ 143,000 in titanium). The PAM 578 uses a unique sintered titanium case. And the tourbillon carriage rotates perpendicular to the movement plate plane, which is also unique. The case is rated to 100m depth. We were impressed with the PAM’s use of new technology and the unusual tourbillon.
All three inhabitants in the landscape of sporty, tourbillon watches are way more pricey than the GP Laureato’s asking price of S$ 139,100 for the Ti/RG version and S$ 146,100 for the Ti/WG version (both with GST). Do they offer more? Perhaps, or perhaps not. Looking merely at the asking prices would suggest that the value proposition scale would seem to tilt way in favour of the GP.
The GP Laureato Tourbillon strikes us as a worthy flagship to the new Laureato line. The entire collection is refreshed with new movements and revised aesthetics and pricing…now with the improved “Complications for less” model.
The aesthetics, even in, (or especially due to) the two tone pink gold and titanium works well. The movement is as nicely designed and executed and the classical GP tourbillon carriage is gorgeous. Does the “loan” of the bridges’ design from the Three Bridges cheapen the famed latter model? Perhaps so, but we see it, the Laureato Tourbillon’s single bridge is a logical extension to the line. Equally beautiful and well crafted, but at a nicer price point. Win win for all.
One final point we feel we need to address…the elephant in the room, so to speak. Traditionally, the bane of GP has been its low secondary prices. This is in part due to an oversupply situation, where the excess is bled into the grey market, bringing down street pricing. This may seem initially to be a good thing t collectors, but it subsequently destroys brand value. It is better for all to keep a good grip at the prices, and offer value. We hope GP has learnt from this, and this new Laureato collection will change all that. We hope she will retain value better than her predecessors. The new Laureato is so well done in so many levels, that it would be a pity otherwise. We hope this will be the beginning of collectors appreciating the grand old dame of GP more.
The rest of the line is more down to earth, and shown below is the 42mm automatic versions.Price tag? A rather attractive one of circa € 10,000. Full review coming.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon Specifications
Material: Titanium & pink gold
Diameter: 45,00 mm
Height: 11,96 mm
Case-back: Sapphire crystal
Dial: Slate-grey with “Clou de Paris” pattern
Water resistance: 3 ATM
Size: 28,00 / 20,00 mm
Buckle: Triple folding
Buckle material: Titanium
Type: Self-winding mechanical movement
Diameter: 36,60 mm (16”’)
Height: 6,05 mm
Frequency: 21,600 Vib/h – (3 Hz)
Number of components: 261
Finishes: Bevelling, engraving, satin-finished
Power reserve: Min. 49 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, tourbillon.