The Girard-Perregaux Laureato: A Timeless and Versatile Design
In this time of over-hyped watches, there is an oft-overlooked timepiece that still meets the requirements of today’s sport-chic style in a refined yet unpretentious way. It is time to rediscover the cult-watch classic from the 1970s: the Girard-Perregaux Laureato.
When it comes to Swiss watchmaking, Girard-Perregaux is a brand that has been at the forefront of innovation and excellence for over two centuries. And among its iconic timepieces, the Laureato stands out, combining classic elegance with bold design, versatility, and craftsmanship.
Since its launch in 1975 – haters, please note: we are talking about a time that PRE-DATES the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the IWC Ingenieur – the Laureato has been a distinctive and distinguished platform for watchmaking expression. Plus, the versatile nature of the Laureato’s design seriously stands out for me and allows it to stand up against the better-known sport-chic models of the holy trinity.
Since its introduction by a young architect and in-house designer from Milan named Adolfo Natalini, the Laureato was immediately able to embrace two trends: integrated metal bracelets and quartz movements.
A 30 mm two-tone (against the brushed steel and 18K yellow) model, the first Laureato featured a date window at 3 o’clock, an 18K yellow gold bezel, crown, hands and appliques, and a white dial decorated with Clous de Paris. It quickly became a hit among watch enthusiasts and fashionistas.
As its designer summarized: “A creation should not only be beautiful, but also useful and correspond to a need.” This sentiment seems obvious today. But for the watchmaking industry at the time, it wasn’t. Instead, brands focused more on the outward appearance of the watch while the strap, for example, was of lesser importance.
One of the things that I find particularly impressive about the Laureato is that it is available in such a wide array of sizes and materials, with its men’s models ranging from 30mm to 44mm. So, whether you prefer a smaller and more discreet watch or a larger and more prominent one, there is a Laureato size to suit everyone.
For example, while visiting the Girard-Perregaux Villa in La Chaux-de-Fonds, I was fortunate enough to pass by (in my opinion) the most iconic Laureato: a rare 41mm model (available in white and blue dials) from 2016 celebrating the 225th-anniversary of the brand and powered by the in-house calibre GP3300 (instead of the current GP01800).
Moreover, the watch has been made from a wide variety of materials, like stainless steel, rose gold, platinum, and even innovative materials like ceramic, carbon, or sapphire crystal. This diversity in materials not only looks good with its form, but it also influences the Laureato’s durability and functionality.
I might have even found my grail watch among the Laureato heritage pieces during my visit to the Girard-Perregaux Villa. Say hello to the teeny-tiny, 28.5mm x 26.2mm first-generation Laureato from the 1970s with a sophisticated white gold case, a diamond and sapphire-set bezel, and a diamond-set white gold bracelet.
Undeniably chic, this watch’s bold aesthetics are further underlined by the deep blue lapis-lazuli dial. For me, this execution proves the consummate versatility of the Laureato design.
Another notable aspect of the Laureato is its movements. Over the years, Girard-Perregaux has equipped the Laureato with different movements, from the first generation’s reliable and precise quartz calibres to today’s automatic calibres that are designed, developed, and assembled in its manufacture.
The choice of quartz movement for the first release may seem surprising by today’s standards, but it was a logical consequence of being born in the middle of the quartz crisis. Indeed, very few brands could resist using quartz calibres during it. And in fact, two years later, in 1977, Rolex launched its first Rolex Oyster quartz.
Of course, the Laureato launched before some of Gérald Genta’s most successful designs and established itself as a timepiece that could bridge the gap between sporty and dressy. But what I most appreciate about it is that, despite its versatility, the Laureato has always retained its identity and classic charm.
The octagonal bezel, the integrated bracelet, and the fine finishing of the case and dial are all hallmarks of the Laureato’s design and have remained virtually unchanged over the years. This consistency in design is a testament to the Laureato’s enduring appeal and recognition.
In such a way, the Laureato’s identity and allure have been preserved over the years, making it a watch that is as relevant today as it was when it was introduced. If you are looking for a great alternative to the hype pieces, especially in terms of design, then the Laureato should be at the top of your list.