Prestigious and ancient Swiss maison, tapisserie dial, steel case with integrated bracelet, created in the 1970s to fight the quartz crisis… it must be a Royal Oak, right?
If when you hear ‘Graduate’ you immediately think of Dustin Hoffman speeding off in his Alfa Romeo to escape the temptations of Mrs. Robinson, well, we can’t blame you. But there is more to this important name than Mike Nichols’ masterpiece.
Today we are talking about the Laureato by Girard Perregaux: a watch that deserves much attention, for its unquestionable beauty, historical importance… and value!
A common threat
Many of watchmaking’s greatest stories stem from the same traumatic event: the ‘quartz crisis’. When Seiko introduced the Astron, the first watch with a quartz movement in the 1970s, the accuracy of Swiss mechanical movements was completely overshadowed.
An exciting challenge between Mont Blanc and Mount Fuji arose, which unfortunately left many maisons behind, but created something completely new. If you want to delve deeper into the subject and discover the first revolutionary Swiss response to the Japanese threat, we recommend our dedicated article.
In order not to fall victim to obsolescence, Swiss maisons made several attempts, but the wiser ones decided to remain faithful to traditional mechanical movements, while creating the modern concept of the luxury sports watch.
With these new watches, the historic maisons abandoned the traditional small yellow gold case in favour of stainless steel, whereby the modern design of the 1970s was introduced with integrated bracelets and sharp edges.
The Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet, the Nautilus from Patek Philippe, the 222 from Vacheron Constantin… but there is a cousin that has long been forgotten.
Girard Perregaux’s answer
Girard Perregaux is one of the oldest maisons in existence, producing first-class watches since 1791. With over two hundred years of experience, it has been able to respond to changes in the market and fashions, but always retained a very narrow market niche.
When it was threatened by the quartz crisis, Girard Perregaux adopted the winning strategy that saved the other big maisons. However, while the others completely immersed themselves in the sporty look driven by a traditional movement, Girard Perregaux played its own way and, with a more refined aesthetic, ensured that it would win the challenge of the quartz movement.
1975 saw the debut of the “Laureato”, Girard Perregaux’s answer to the crisis brought from the far east. A slender and elegant steel and gold case, with a modern integrated bracelet: this was the setting in which the hands danced on the splendid tapisserie dial, powered by the in-house cal. 705 calibre, Switzerland’s first 32,768 Hz frequency.
The perfect balance of modernity and traditional luxury made the Laureato an immediate commercial success, soon becoming one of the highlights of Girard Perregaux’s catalogue.
The modern Laureato
The brand remained faithful to its opt for quartz until 1995, when the Laureato was equipped for the first time with an ultra-thin automatic calibre. In addition to the mechanical novelty, the new Laureato gets a complete overhaul of its look: while retaining its spirit and distinctive features, its appearance is modernized, preparing the Laureato to enter the new millennium with the same philosophy as its successful predecessor.
After several experiments over the following years, the look of the new Laureato was perfected in 2016, acquiring the perfect form with which we know and appreciate it today.
The pure canvas of the Laureato time-only has been embellished with numerous complications: first and foremost the equation of time and the tourbillon, but we believe that the nature of balanced sportiness and refinement is perfectly expressed by the chronograph. Girard Perregaux has managed to integrate this complication perfectly into the silhouette of the Laureato, enhancing its sportiness without upsetting its harmonious appearance.
Some have dubbed the Laureato ‘a copy’ of other more famous cousins, but studying its history and appreciating its beauty in person immediately disproves any maliciousness.
While the others pursue pure sportiness, the Laureato has always stood out for its balance between function and luxury. Because of the softness of its lines and its incredible versatility, it is a more discreet choice than its imposing cousins. In addition, the fact that it has been foolishly placed in obscurity has meant that it has not yet reached its full potential, although collectors around the world are rapidly recognising its true value.
For these reasons, as well as for its undeniable historical relevance and outright beauty, we have had the pleasure of recommending this watch to our customers, who can now appreciate its beauty first hand every day, knowing that they have made the right choice. If you are looking for the right Laureato for you, we invite you to explore our Collection or contact our experts to find the perfect watch together.
written by Lorenzo Spolaor