When Girard-Perregaux released the inaugural version of the Laureato in 1975, its masterful blend of different shapes proved distinctive, yet harmonious. Its looks complemented a lounge suit but also worked with casual attire. Over the years, the Maison has introduced new complications and worked with a variety of materials and colours, but the Laureato has always remained instantly recognisable and has always retained its timeless looks.
In 2019, Girard-Perregaux unveiled the Laureato Absolute line. Many of the Laureato’s recognisable design codes were carried over to this bolder interpretation of the 1975 model, including the legendary octagonal bezel sat atop a circular ring. However, the Laureato Absolute line also incorporated an integrated rubber strap, along with many additional changes, some more subtle than others, ultimately contributing to the contemporary appearance of the Laureato collection.
Now, Girard-Perregaux has unveiled the new Laureato Absolute Light & Shade and Light & Fire, models that draws on the Maison’s amassed watchmaking know-how and employs its vast expertise working with innovative materials. Measuring 44 mm in diameter, the Laureato Absolute Light & Shade case is made from metallised sapphire crystal, endowing the watch with a fascinating brilliance.
On one hand, the model exhibits a visually light appearance and bestows transparency, while conversely it looks dark and reflective. This visual lightness is accompanied by a low mass of just 85 grams. Throughout its composition, the watch juxtaposes contrasting characteristics, distinguishing this contemporary expression of fine watchmaking as quite unique.
In order to create a watch with a sapphire crystal case, a boule of sapphire crystal must be created using a technique termed ‘the Kyropoulos growth method’. This protracted growth method transforms alumina powder into a solid block of sapphire crystal, a process that takes up to 8 weeks. Thereafter, the block is cut into small discs which are then skilfully machined to form the bezel, case middle and caseback. Once this phase is completed, the parts need to be thermally treated and then polished.
The components are carefully screened, only those corresponding to the specifications and without inclusion are selected. The sapphire crystal components are then subjected to a metallisation treatment. This process involves applying a surface treatment to the parts within a vacuum. Ultimately, this suffuses them with a smoked appearance. The creation of this sapphire crystal case requires 170 hours of complex work.
Powerful and elegant, openworked hour and minute hands ensure excellent readability. A three-dimensional ring sitting between the bezel and the movement, plays host to the GP logo at 12 o’clock and the remaining 11 indexes. Girard-Perregaux has employed a unique construction method, obviating the need for a conventional casing ring. The case and the movement are assembled on a single axis, from the caseback to the bezel, by a very specific screw system.
Two black, PVD-treated titanium lugs are integrated within the case, uniting the watch head with a black rubber strap. This arrangement not only looks modern, but also ensures the strap is optimally positioned on the wrist, thereby conferring impressive wearer comfort. The lugs incorporate satin-finished surfaces with polished angles.
Paying homage to the Chinese New Year, the new Laureato Light & Fire reveals a deep and captivating red colour. An intense red that plays with light, like the burning embers of a flame. Limited to just 18 pieces, the model shares much in common with the Laureato Absolute Light & Shade but is housed in a new polycrystalline material named YAG. Similar to sapphire crystal, this translucent material is hard and scratch-resistant, but also offers a variety of dark shades. This latter characteristic was particularly important to the Maison’s design team who were keen to dress the limited-edition timepiece in a deep red vibrant hue, a colour that evokes thoughts of energy, vitality and prosperity.
Limited to just 18 pieces, the Laureato Absolute Light & Shade and The Laureato Absolute Light & Fire will go on sale in April 2023 and will be available worldwide in all authorised Girard-Perregaux retailers.