Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Light & Shade And Light & Fire
I will happily admit to having a soft spot for the Girard-Perregaux Laureato, and I would love a silver-dialed 38mm version. It has transcended its integrated-bracelet-stepchild status, and this is highly visible in its pre-loved prices. Though it was a long time coming, unfortunately for me, they are now 40–60% above what they were two years ago. That was the same time I had a weekend with The Beauty and The Beast — the standard Laureato and Laureato Absolute — and was torn between the two. Let me explain.
In the fall of 2020, I had just segued from hosting my own watch-themed YouTube channel to writing and had two weekend-loan watches. After calming my nerves from having over €30,000 in a paper bag on the train home, I was working on a Laureato story. The Beauty and The Beast idea of juxtaposing the two Girard-Perregaux Laureato families had me both smitten and torn. The octagonal charms of the Laureato made me put it on the same podium as the premium Swiss suspects, while the Absolute was an unexpectedly charming brute. So the new Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute brings me a delightful feeling of déjà vu.
The new Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Light & Fire and Light & Shade
A lot of effort has gone into the cases of this 44mm duo. Have you heard of metalized sapphire? At first glance, it endows the pair with a visual strength, setting them apart from previous Absolute references while keeping them immediately recognizable as Laureato models. Other brands have the big boys of the collection drawn with a different pen — think the Royal Oak Offshore — while Girard-Perregaux brings a studied approach to the table. Just like the Defy Extreme series from Zenith, the Absolute has all the right clues. And from memory, the 44mm piece wears unashamedly well on the rubber strap, but what about that sapphire case?
Let’s grab this sparkly bull by the horns first as it is the biggest strength of this debut and has not been seen before. A sapphire case has enough street cred to put many LVMH pieces in the shade on any given day. So well played with the release date, Girard-Perregaux; it works. Looking at the shots, I’m struck by the combination of transparency and a tantalizing metallic sheen. Making a case from sapphire means starting with eight weeks of the “Kyropolous growth method.” This transforms alumina powder into a block of sapphire crystal. That block is cut into discs that are machined into the three-part case. This complex, time-consuming process is then compounded by a surface treatment that I haven’t seen before. Within a vacuum, the smoked-metallic appearance is created, endowing the case itself with the street cred of 170 hours of work.
Both of these contrasting watches house the skeletonized in-house caliber GP01800-1143 with a heritage-connecting octagonal mainplate. The transparency of the case is only compounded by the dial-less vista. With so much happening within the Absolute, you would think it creates an element of infighting. But no, the zen here is surprising. Instead of being a compound of angles, the feminine shapes of the curvy bridgework and monochrome gray instill a sense of calm. That doesn’t stop the balance at 12 o’clock from presiding over a fascinating city of industrial micro-prowess, but it does restrain it. I love the open 54-hour spring barrel at 5 o’clock. We get a good look at the engine, while the NAC-treated surfaces within the movement have 55 hand-polished inner angles. To match the dark movement and ensure stability to the FKM rubber strap, the case ends are in black satin-finished titanium.
The new Girard-Perregaux Laureato Replica comes in two distinct flavors with the Light & Shade and Light & Fire providing two distinct outlooks on life. That came out a bit grand, but it’s all about your sense of style. I’m quite outré in my wrist style. I revel in the attention that a popping watch attracts when paired with a downplayed fit. The tonal chic of the Light & Shade combined with a mere 11.56mm thickness endows the cushion-cased Absolute with a high versatility score. The tiny plots of purple jewels within the GP01800-1143 movement bring a finesse underlined by the rhodium-plated hands and indices. I enjoy the downplayed formality that GP has managed to give this extravagant creation, but I do have a big soft spot for the Light & Fire version.
From the octagonal bezel to the soft cushion case, the Light & Fire edition has a dose of almost-sensual red. Color-matched stitching links the FKM strap to the look. Red also highlights things like the propeller-shaped small seconds indicator within a curving, cut-out bridge at 10 o’clock. It provides a subtle match to the lume in the hands. These small details bring cohesiveness to a delightful take on a classic. Will it matter to buyers that these pieces both have a 30m depth rating? Well, I wouldn’t bring a watch with this price tag to the beach. Both will be available for CHF 95,000, but the delectably warm red version will only see a run of 18 pieces. I have a suspicion they might sell out rather quickly. Why? Because this is a year to go big or go home (feel free to quote me on that, Girard-Perregaux).
Fratelli, do you feel the desire for a big grail in a sapphire case? To be fair, not many of us have €100K to spend on a watch, but none of us can afford a Warhol either. So dream on, dear Fratelli, dream on. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.