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hands/on: Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph 42mm, Ref 81020

Let’s follow up with a more in-depth hands-on review of what I consider one of the hottest Girard-Perregaux watches available right now: the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph.

Ever since its rebirth in 2016 with the Anniversary Laureato, the Laureato has quickly become a key successful line for Girard-Perregaux. We know of course that GP is much more than only Laureato, take the classic Vintage 1945 or 1966 line or the Haute Horlogerie pieces, but the Laureato has hit a sweet spot where it gets much attention. I suspect the hype for sports-chic steel bracelet watches plays a part in that and it is good to see that GP has a very worthy contender in that market.

At SIHH 2018, the Chronograph was added to the line in two versions, 42mm and 38mm. Both versions come in a variety of dial colours and case materials.

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In this hands/on review I will solely focus on the 42mm Chronograph in steel with the all blue dial. Why? Because I like this one best. In fact, it is the GP that is currently at the top spot on my wish list.

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However, before we look closer at the Laureato Chronograph, let’s take a quick excursion into history.

 

Heritage and History:

If we only focus on the Chronograph function in the Laureato line, we need to go back to the year 1996.

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In 1996, Girard-Perregaux added a three-register Chronograph with date at 4:30h to its Laureato line. It was one of the first that came with the in-house caliber 3170.

As 1996 was an Olympic year (Atlanta), the Laureato Chronograph was released as a Limited Edition of 999 pieces as the Laureato Olimpico, Reference 8017.

It is fair to say that the Laureato Chronograph from last year really picks up on the design elements of Reference 8017 while modernising its lines and its dial.

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The three register dial with date at 4:30h, crown guards and pushers with octagonal screws are all modern interpretations of the classic Laureato 8017. The Laureato Evo3 Chronographs from the 2000s took a very different approach, so it is great to see that the new Chronograph goes back to the roots.

With almost every watch, it is so important to actually handle the watch in the metal, trying it on, seeing it in different lights, how it feels on the wrist etc.

The Laureato Chronograph is no exception. In fact, I would say, it even more needs that personal experience.

Many elements of a watch rely on interacting with light and three-dimensional depth, so while photos are great, they cannot replace touching and seeing it in real. Let’s start with the dial.

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That blue is really gorgeous, it just has the right hue and still has that touch of grey or darker shades that makes it very interesting to look at it over and over again. The Clous-de-Paris pattern is again a key feature, but on the Chronograph less dominating as you have the subdials and just a much more busy dial.

The date really is fine. Blends in nicely tone-in-tone and is absolutely no issue for me.

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One element I was initially sceptical about were the blued hands. Blued hands on blue dial? Believe me, it works, it works very well. I can see why it was designed like that and that just shows how much effort and deep thought went into it by the design team. White luminova within the hour markers and hands makes a perfect fit.

 

The Case:

We have essentially the same Laureato case as we see on the time-only version, but with a few yet significant differences. First, there is now a crown guard similar as it was present on the mid 90s Laureato Chronograph Olimpico. For my taste, this is a great addition as it a) draws the line to the historic model and b) simply looks better on the Chronograph.

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The Chronograph pushers are also screw-in with octagonal pushers. The operation of the screw-in and screw-out is very smooth, it is almost only a half turn that is a true pleasure to operate.

Case and bracelet is made from 904L steel. It provides a very special shine that makes the steel very white and works especially well on the brushed surfaces.

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And finally, the backside: GP seem to have listened to collectors here. We now have a very nice solid back with a Laureato engraving and an octagonal shape. Thanks GP design team for taking that route. There is nothing wrong with a see-through case back, but especially in the 42mm case, the 25mm calibre would look a bit lost, so a solid case back is a the way to go.

 

Bracelet and strap options:

Most Laureato’s will probably be ordered with the bracelet. The bracelet is very flexible and of very high quality. I’ve never been a big bracelet guy, but this type of watch just looks better with the bracelet.

The strap options are either Alligator or Rubber. For the blue dial Chronograph both will be in matching dark blue. The Alligator does feel a bit out of place but for people who prefer leather straps, this is still a top choice.

An alternative blue rubber strap is included with the strap option. It is surprisingly thin and flexible but you can feel the quality of the rubber strap and the blue colour matches perfectly.

So buyers have two choices and if you go with the strap you get both leather and rubber. One word on the double-folding buckle for the strap option. Here we now have some key improvements that are worth mentioning.

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Now both opening sides are extra secured with small pushers. Previously, this was only the case for the outer one that closes last. It happened that you closed the inner side and then you wanted to close the outer side and oops, the inner one opened again (especially with the alligator when the strap is still new and stiff). No more now, the inner is secured and will stay in place until you push the release button. The buckle as you can see is like a pin buckle, so it provides double security with a small fixed pin and the normal buckle pin being exactly one hole apart.

Furthermore, you can also only use the pin buckle and store away the folding mechanism if you prefer that. All in all, a great design that is a great improvement.

 

And on the wrist, the Laureato Chronograph is…

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Breath-taking! The combination of all the above points together when the watch is starting to play with light, it really grabs attention.

It is also greatly fitting my not very large wrist, even in 42mm. In fact, the 38mm just feels too small in my opinion. It’s because of the proportions of dial size, bezel and case that makes the 42mm the right size.

The combination with the strap (rubber) is very comfortable, it removes weight and makes it easy to adjust length when wrist size slightly changes during the day.

Nevertheless, the bracelet will be the most popular I’m sure and also would be my choice.

In summary, the Laureato Chronograph is a very convincing new addition to the Laureato line-up and has won my heart by storm. I like the all blue version, but other versions have their charm and I think there is something for everyone.

One thing is important: Go and see it, touch it, feel it yourself in the shop and don’t just judge by photos. It is certainly not a “copy” of the competing watches it tends to get compared with all the time. The Laureato stands on its own and does have its own rich history and the Chronograph is my personal highlight.

laureato_81020_11_431_11A_soldatzoomGirard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph
81020-11-431-11A
Caliber: GP03300-0138
Chronograph automatic winding
Case: 42mm Steel, 100m WR

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