Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon 43mm
The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon 43mm shares some of its DNA with the inaugural Laureato of 1975 as well as the legendary pocket watch, La Esmeralda of 1889. However, while this high-end timepiece respects the Swiss brand’s heritage it still possesses a notably fresh complexion.
In the rarefied world of haute horlogerie, excellence is all-pervading. The finest watches encompass an array of technical refinements which augment precision. Movements are embellished with age-old forms of decoration, often utilising traditional handcraft techniques. Ultimately, each creation should be precise and finished to an elevated standard.
However, when it comes to design, haute horlogerie is not immune to the fickleness of fashion. A style of watch, or just a few aesthetic elements, can be en vogue at one point and prove passé the next.
A shrewd buyer should always devote time to research a brand’s heritage and appraise whether former models have retained their eye-appeal despite the passage of time.
The Laureato was released in 1975 and featured a quartz movement. This may sound surprising for a company famed for crafting no-compromise mechanical movements, however, quartz was the ‘new kid on the block’ at the time and was widely perceived as the future. Unfortunately, this newfangled technology led to the demise of numerous watch brands. Even today, personnel working within the watch industry refer to the ‘quartz crisis’, a period that has left an indelible impression on many Swiss minds.
The notable elements of the original Laureato’s design included an octagonal bezel, Clous de Paris dial decoration and an integrated bracelet ie a case without lugs or loops.
In 2016, Girard-Perregaux celebrated its 225th anniversary and marked the occasion by releasing several new models. Most notably, the Maison unveiled a new Laureato, reinvigorated with supremely-sharp styling while simultaneously respecting the legacy of the 1975 model.
The focal point of this feature, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon 43mm, was also unveiled two years ago (2018).
The blue dial is adorned with Clous de Paris, subscribing to the dial motif employed on the 1975 original. The blued steel hour and minute hands incorporate luminescent treatment. The indexes replicate the styling of the hands. Despite the tone-on-tone hands, indexes and dial ensemble, the readability proves superb.
Once again, the watch firm invites the wearer to partake in a transtemporal journey, returning to around 1889, the year Constant Girard-Perregaux enjoyed prize-winning success with his pocket watch, La Esmeralda. This highly precise timepiece featured a tourbillon escapement and three prominent bridges. Over the years, the company has made several styles of watch fitted with either one or three bridges, positioned dial side. Irrespective of the number of bridges employed, they always resemble a double-headed arrow.
On the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon 43mm a lone bridge straddles the lower portion of the dial, supporting the rotating tourbillon cage. Unusually, this tourbillon bridge is made of titanium instead of noble metal used on its forebears.
Two silver-hued initials are positioned at noon with the firm’s nomen positioned below. A minuterie is presented on the rehaut, aiding read-off.
The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon 43mm is also presented in titanium and measures 11.36mm in height. When affixed to the wrist, the watch proves light, comfortable and neat. Unlike some earlier versions of the Laureato, the crown sits alone, free of any neighbouring crown protectors. Titanium is widely used in the medical field because it is hypoallergenic, making it ideal for those individuals who suffer from a nickel allergy.
Girard-Perregaux has enriched the case with brushed surfaces that run from east to west. The octagonal bezel repeats this surface treatment, albeit the finely brushed pattern assumes a circular path, echoing the profile of the adjacent rehaut.
The finest watches encompass numerous minute details which heighten ownership delight. Evidently, Girard-Perregaux’s designers are aware of this. For example, the bezel sits atop a gleaming circlet of titanium, bestowing a becoming mien. The Maison has also juxtaposed brushed and polished surfaces with the bracelet. The inner bracelet links look resplendent and contrast beautifully with the neighbouring surfaces.
The Calibre GP 09510-003, visible via the exhibition case back, is automatic and features a micro-rotor. Only a few brands possess the know-how to produce movements equipped with this type of diminutive oscillating weight.
A micro-rotor delivers two benefits. With a regular automatic watch, the oscillating weight sits above the bridges, increasing the movement’s thickness. In contrast, a micro-rotor sits flush with neighbouring bridges, mitigating the overall height of the calibre. In this instance, the Calibre GP 09510-003 has a thickness of just 3.9mm. The second benefit of a micro-rotor is that it grants superior views of the beautifully appointed bridges and various other movement parts.
Girard-Perregaux is an exemplar of haute horlogerie with an enviable reputation for making movements crafted to an elevated standard, free of compromise. The finissage on the Calibre GP 09510-003 is sublime, with chamfering, Côtes de Genève and perlage all in evidence.
Again, Girard-Perregaux has looked to the past, deferentially doffed its cap and replicated the lyre-shaped carriage first used by the firm back in the 19th century. The tourbillon is comprised of 81 parts and yet it only weighs 0.44 grams. Its low-mass mitigates energy consumption and, by default, the watch boasts an impressive 47 hour power reserve.
The dial of the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon 43mm is highly legible, refreshingly uncluttered and eminently attractive. However, the simplicity of its dialscape belies its mechanical complexity.
The making of a tourbillon is an incredibly complicated task, necessitating the expertise of a highly experienced watchmaker. Moreover, the Calibre GP 09510-003 features a micro-rotor, the preserve of just a few elite Maisons. It is this horological virtuosity which distinguishes Girard-Perregaux as exceptional.
However, the luxury marque’s talents are not restricted to the watchmaker’s bench. When Constant Girard-Perregaux conceived La Esmeralda, he was not only a watchmaker but an aesthete. Indeed, the pocket watch’s prepossessing beauty has never waned over the years. Likewise, despite the Laureato appearing on the market some 45 years ago, it still looks contemporary and remains relevant today. Given its DNA, I suspect the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon 43mm will still look very desirable in another 45 years.
- Model: Girard-Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon 43mm
- Reference: 99115-21-431-21A
Case: Titanium; diameter 43 mm; water resistance 3ATM (30m); sapphire crystal to the front and exhibition case back.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; tourbillon
- Movement: GP 09510-0003; automatic movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 33 jewels; power reserve min. 47 hours; 322 components
- Bracelet: Titanium bracelet with triple folding titanium clasp
- Price: CHF 98,800 (Swiss recommended tax-inclusive retail price)