My Guilty Pleasure Watch: Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Wired
At this point, you should now know the definition of a guilty pleasure. When it comes to watches, the pleasure is picturing yourself wearing something far outside your comfort zone. For me, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Wired satisfies me as much as I know it shouldn’t. The regular Laureato from Girard-Perregaux has its fair share of detractors, which I am not one of. Yes, the resemblance to Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak is hard to ignore. But GP venturing into the territory of AP’s Offshore offshoot is somehow even more tantalizingly sinister yet seductive.
Before I descend into depravity, let’s first understand the context around the contentious Laureato. In 1975, Girard-Perregaux launched the Laureato Quartz Chronometer — Laureato meaning “graduate” in Italian. The timepiece was in the same vein as Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak that came three years prior. Those design cues are the lug-to-bracelet integration, octagonal bezel, and a sporty yet luxurious dial. But the Laureato was not a Gérald Genta design. However, it was still innovative by being one of the first entirely Swiss quartz watches. Even still, the years between the ’70s and now weren’t as fruitful for the Laureato as they were for the Royal Oak or Patek Philippe’s Nautilus.
A limited edition without limitation
For its 225th anniversary in 2016, Girard-Perregaux resurrected the Laureato as a limited edition of 450 pieces. There were 225 in steel with a blue dial and 225 in steel with a white dial. GP ditched the quartz movement and went with the mechanical GP 3100 in the gentlemanly diameter of 41mm. While keeping the integrated lugs and octagonal bezel, the LE is a more elegant piece with satin-brushed outer bracelet links and a fully polished bezel. History repeated itself, as the announcement garnered a mixed response in the enthusiast community. While the design was attractive, the comparisons to the Royal Oak case and the Nautilus bracelet came immediately.
In 2017, however, the anniversary edition that signaled the return of the Laureato became part of the regular collection. While not quite the same, the blue dial and stainless-steel model grew by 1mm to 42mm with some minor improvements. I don’t know any of the 225 owners of the Laureato anniversary limited edition, but I sincerely sympathize. It’s incredibly cynical for a watch brand to release an identical model to a previous limited edition less than 12 months later. Not only that, but the new model came with a lower price of around $3K less ($14,300 to $11,000). Ouch! Girard-Perregaux may have lost a few customers there.
Improvements included a color-matching date disc, broader hands and indices, and polishing limited to only the outer ring of the bezel. The movement was also upgraded to the GP 1800, which is wider by 4mm, allowing the caliber to fill the case-back view. Ben Parker said it best: “With a new movement comes a greater power reserve.” I may be paraphrasing here, but a power reserve increasing from 46 hours to 54 hours would be enough to spur on any skyscraper-swingin’ superhero. Carrying over from the previous caliber was circular graining and Geneva stripes. Despite the sadistic tactics of de-limiting a watch, it isn’t the regular Laureato that’s my guilty pleasure.
In 2019, GP blew up the Laureato to form the Absolute. The case diameter grew from 42mm to 44mm, adding an embossed rubber strap with the brand’s name strewn across — the Offshore variation had a similar journey to market from the standard Royal Oak. At the time, the Absolute came in four variants, each with a black-and-blue colorway. This theme was consistent across most of GP’s new watches in 2019. Since then, the Absolute case materials have evolved from black PVD-coated titanium to what is called “carbon glass.” And it’s this concoction of ingredients that culminates in my guilty pleasure — the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Wired.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Wired
Dave explained carbon-glass with his introduction article, but essentially, it’s where colored glass, in this case, blue, is fused with the natural black carbon. The marbling effect creates a unique look, and the featherweight material makes the Absolute comfortable and sporty. Functions for the Absolute range from a date model to a GMT traveler, all with self-winding calibers. But it’s the in-house chronograph of the Wired model that grills my bacon. I put it down to how the chronograph pushers subtly follow the lines of the guards towards the crown. And cheekily stepping on the toes of AP’s Offshore chronograph is a little bonus, especially as AP has yet to place its in-house Caliber 4401 from the Code 11:59 into the Offshore. Instead, AP sternly relies on its F. Piguet-derivative AP 2385 movement. At least GP utilizes an in-house automatic chronograph, GP 03300, for the Wired model.
The Wired has a deep black dial with white hands and markers. As Dave said before, the monochromatic nature of the timepiece allows the cyberpunk neon blue of the carbon glass to take center stage. Other design flourishes include the recessed hour markers alongside the Super-LumiNova. Not to be outdone, the Wired is water-resistant to 300 meters, thanks to a solid case-back and a screw-down crown. The case thickness of 14.65mm is girthy but reasonably proportional to the 44mm diameter. Having a chunky presence gives it a sportier feel over the sleek case of the regular Laureato.
Marvel Vs. DC
My minor gripe with the Absolute Wired was that Girard-Perregaux might’ve iterated upon the Laureato too rapidly. In contrast, the original Royal Oak was released in 1972, but it wasn’t until 1993 that the Offshore came to market. Whereas the Laureato, in its modern mechanical form, only allowed three years before releasing its bigger, badder Absolute. I liken it to Marvel taking over ten years from its first cinematic universe caper, Iron Man (2008), to the climax of Avengers: Endgame (2019). On the other hand, DC attempted to establish the characters in Man of Steel (2013) and then face their fiercest foe in Justice League (2017) only four years later. And we all know how that went down.
Despite the accelerated evolution, the Laureato Absolute Wired is decadently devilish. The confidence GP has to exude its watchmaking heritage within such a liberal timepiece is enough to guilt-trip. The watch cognoscenti may repress their pleasure on the Wired, but I’m willing to admit my infatuation for this watch. And just recently, Kering sold its stake in Girard-Perregaux to the current CEO, Patrick Pruniaux. Time will tell if the sale changes the direction of specific models due to this in-house acquisition. The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Wired is a limited edition of 88 pieces, sold exclusively via e-commerce to US and UK customers for $17,700 and £15,100, respectively.
Let me know what you think of my guilty-pleasure watch. Is it legit, or is the Absolute Wired absolutely weird? I’m looking forward to reading your opinions in the comments.