If you’d ask me about an entry watch into the collection of Girard-Perregaux and if you also would want to start at an easy budget, what models would I recommend?
We will limit us to a recommended Swiss retail of under CHF 12,000.-, so more or less 10k Euros. I appreciate that this is still a big spend on a watch by any means, but in the world of haute horlogerie it is considered an entry point. Fair enough that 10k will not buy you a true haute horlogerie watch with a grand complication, but it can provide an entry into the prestigious names of the industry. So if we look at Girard-Perregaux, here are three recommendations from my side. All prices are taken from the GP Website and are Swiss recommended retail prices including Swiss VAT.
1966 Steel 40mm Fume Dial: CHF 7,900.-
The lowest price entry into the collection of Girard-Perregaux for men’s watches today is the 40mm Steel 1966 dress watch. Normally, I would pick a formal dress watch in a precious metal, but as we are tight on budget, the steel is not a bad choice. The plain silver dial version may look a bit indifferent and could be found like that with any major watch manufacturer, however, the 1966 DNA is still clearly there with its superb case design.
A couple of years ago, GP started to expand the offering of the steel 1966 time/date only collection, most recently we also had an all black/blue dial or a steel with blue guilloche pattern. However, my choice would actually be the fume dial 40mm steel 1966. It’s a brownish grey colour that looks much more interesting that the normal silver dial and does not come at a price premium. Maybe we have seen such fume dials from other Swiss (independent) watchmakers, but fact is, the late 60s GP Chronometer HF also knew a grey/brown fume dial exactly like this.
The most interesting part is the cutting of the indexes, which are laser cut and have many facets providing some great light reflections. GP also opted for a coloured date disc to have the date window blend in a bit better. A great entry watch into Girard-Perregaux, featuring the in-house caliber GP03300 and all the quality you would expect from a house like Girard-Perregaux.
Laureato Steel Bracelet 42mm: CHF 11,600.-
Since the re-introduction of the blue Clous-de-Paris Dial time/date only Laureato in 2016, the Laureato collection has been a favourite with customers. There is no secret that sports chic bracelet watches of a certain Geneva house have sky-rocketed on high demand and low supplies. It is however good to see that you can still find a reasonably priced and readily available sports chic bracelet watch from a well-established name on the shelfs.
I’m not going to start (yet another) discussion on similarities with other competitors and who was where first. I’m very happy for all Nautilus owners that their watches are so popular and in demand, but if you just want a high-quality bracelet sports watch that is good value for money and you can actually buy, the Laureato is not a bad choice.
Today, the Laureato collection is actually huge and you can easily get lost in the choice of models, sizes and complications. Possibly not a very good thing and consolidation may be on the horizon, but the classic blue hobnail dial, time and date only will always be the classic choice and there is nothing wrong with choosing that.
My second recommendation for a budget GP is the Laureato 42mm Steel with Bracelet and blue Clous-de-Paris dial, the most classic Laureato and a true contender in the sports chic watch market.
1966 Steel Full Calendar: CHF 11,200.-
Our third and last budget choice is going to be another 1966 in steel. Obviously with the constraints I have set, there are not that many choices, but surprisingly, within this budget we even can add an interesting complication. A full calendar with moon phase is not as sophisticated like an Annual Calendar or even a Perpetual Calendar mechanism, but the layout of the triple date/moon phase always makes for a balanced dial and a romantic touch with the moon phase complication.
GP also offers a simpler version without the month and day display, providing only date and moon phase, however, I feel the Triple Date dial is much more balanced and interesting. Offering this complication in a steel case at a very attractive price range makes this model an easy recommendation for an entry watch. It is also very versatile. The steel case works well with both casual and formal attire and the Triple Date complication has a lot going for it under all circumstances. For me a clear winner of the current collection.