‘Less is more’: the new Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Passion is a black and red beast that’s raring to defy
At the Festival Automobile International event held in Paris in January 2020, Girard-Perregaux launched a new watch, the Laureato Absolute Passion. As the official watchmaking partner of this event, it was only suitable to launch a watch that speaks to the motorsports fans.
The Lead In
I like the industry we are in; one of the best aspects of the watch industry is the diversity one comes across. Not just of the pursuers, but also amongst the watches presented. It was only yesterday that I was reviewing the new Mido Commander Gradient. A beautiful racing inspired watch, that we summarised as being an ode to the idea of ‘less is a bore’ made famous by the architect Robert Venturi. Today, in its stark contrast, we are pleased to be looking at the new Laureato Absolute Passion, another racing inspired watch, that for all intents and purposes could be following the opposing theme of ‘less is more’, ironically made famous by another architect.
Minimalist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once quipped: “Less is more”. It seems that Girard-Perregaux has taken that mantra to heart and released the Laureato Absolute Passion. For my money, this release is perhaps one of the most visually appealing and legible chronograph watches of recent times.
Unlike numerous chronographs these days with messy dials overloaded with tachymeters or pulsometers, the Laureato Absolute Passion simply features just red on black, with the less is more philosophy fitting it to a T.
I would like to begin this review with two admissions.
One, in general wear and tear of navigating the eccentricities of life, I find the combination of red and black not only unappealing but downright tacky. Perhaps blame it on the use by ‘lovebirds’ on Valentine’s day or on my personal fashion tastes. So when it comes to red accessories, I am let’s just say reserved in appreciating them.
But darn it, enter Laureato Absolute Passion. Somehow, just somehow, the use of (somewhat subtle) glimpses of red on a stark black case is not only superbly executed, but the watch has also converted me from loathing this combination in general to loving it in this case.
Second, I also have to admit that there is nothing more appealing than a chronograph executed right. When it comes to complications on a watch, chronographs in my opinion are the most useful, and frankly given they are meant to assist in timing, often where speed is crucial, legibility reigns. Especially if we are talking about watches that are designed to be a part of motorsport racing.
So a chronograph without high legality is an oxymoron in itself; it’s essentially a mockery of the entire concept. The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Passion doesn’t go down that track.; it’s legible to the point of brilliance.
Girard-Perregaux’s Laureato collection of watches are iconic in their own right, in the same vein as Hublot’s Big Bang. 48 years in the making — they were first introduced in 1972 — they have come to be known for their octagonal bezels, integrated cases and cushion-shaped cases.
A couple of years ago GP decided to revamp its chronograph part of the Laureato collection. In the beginning of 2018, they released the updated iteration of the Laureato Chronograph in three dial variations — silver, black or deep blue— spread across two material choices — 904L steel or 18k pink gold — and two case size — 42 or 38mm — options.
Introducing the Beast of the Chronographs
Visually, legibility has been the key defining feature of the Laureato Chronographs.
The new release with its red on black look puts its authoritative stamp on that.
Additionally, and even though this new release doesn’t feature this style, the Laureato Chronographs have come to be associated with dials bearing the “Clou de Paris” hobnail motif, which is a set of small raised pyramids occupying the watch face that work wonders in natural lighting.
And what the new release has that the 2018 version didn’t are redesigned pushers that are now also more angular with their curved surface that is highlighted by a red border and ensures enhanced ergonomics.
So when a watchmaker such as Girard-Perregaux decides to pay homage to the world of sports and its own collection, it gets it bang on the money.
The Brain of the Beast
The 2020 Laureato Absolute Passion chronograph (reference 81060-21-692-FH6A) has a manufacture self-winding movement — GP03300-1058 — that comprises of 419 components & beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’000 A/h), providing a decent (min.) 46-hour power reserve.
We have seen this movement before; it is essentially the same movement and the case dimensions as the one featured inside the 2019 Laureato Absolute Rock watch. In lightweight and innovative carbon glass case, the reference 81060-36-691-FH6A marked Girard-Perregaux’s introduction of using patented carbon glass as a case material.
The case and bezel are both lightweight titanium with PVD treatment, and the case-back is secured by 6 screws.
The movement is nicely decorated with Girard-Perregaux proving with some genuinely high-end finishings. The barrel bridge alone includes five finishing: engraving, Côtes de Genève, bevelling, mirror polishing and circular-graining.
The movement can be admired through a sapphire crystal with the case-back also featuring an engraving of the Laureato Absolute logo.
The Killer Looks
Perhaps the best part about this new watch is the stunning use of red, especially in the sub-dials. It is just clear. Easy to read.
And it stands out not in an I-have-money-I-want-to-show-off way but in a more elegant yet sporty way. It’s a big watch no doubt — measuring in at 44mm — and I reckon it’s meant to be loud, but it doesn’t scream.
The use of the colour red is somewhat minimalist here, and it really pops out against the otherwise black PVD treated watch case. We have seen Girard-Perregaux use red before, and in that sense, it’s not unique here, but it’s more of a homage to its own legacy of using the colour red than anything else.
The red is also shown through the hour marker windows and that even further compliments the dial. The two pushers have hints of red as well, and we think perhaps the crown should have had that too, just to maintain a sense of uniformity.
The watch is near perfect; but frankly, if I had to quibble about something, it would only be the large size and the use of the date window.
In terms of the former, with the watch coming in at a chunky 44mm diameter and 14.65mm thickness, it is not really a daily office wearable watch. But that said, that’s not what it’s meant for. It’s a racing-inspired watch that would rather be on the track than fight with the cufflinks for breathing space.
As for the latter, the date aperture at 4.30 seems a bit forced and at-least the date numerals should have been in red too instead of white to maintain coherency.
But that said, design-wise I am very pleased with this watch.
The dial is black and features red cut out ’baton’ type indexes with luminescent material and red counters with baton type hands filled with luminescent material.
The depth of the red cut-outs from the main black dial surface is further complemented by the three sub-dial counters that are also recessed. Introducing textural play and pattern into the dial, these red counters are concentric circled, that flirt with the natural lighting.
The white minute track marked inner bezel ring with its luminescent accents slopes at an angle accentuating the depth of the matt red hour-markers. This slope is also mimicked by the periphery of the sub-dials as well. The white markings of the minute track are in turn mimicked by the white markings and hands of the sub-dials.
Like the red cherry on the cake, topping this black and red theme is the black branding at 12’o clock and the red central chronograph hand.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
Before we wrap this review up, we can’t really finish before saying a word or two about the strap. The watch comes on a rubber strap with red fabric effect and complimentary red stitches with folding deployant buckle with micro-adjustment system made from titanium with PVD treatment.
Again it seems that Girard-Perregaux has put conscious effort into ensuring that the watch really shines through as the whole package. And the strap in red ensures that.
Do me a favour; cover the photo of this watch on your screen with a strip of black cloth or strap if you have one. You will immediately see the difference that it makes. The rubber strap seamlessly integrates into the watch with a red inlay and even red stitches. It plays a big part in establishing the new Laureato Absolute Passion as one of the best chronographs of recent times.
Another aspect worth praising is the water-resistance the Laureato Absolute Passion boasts of: it’s 300 meters (30 ATM). For a watch that is not a dive watch, this is pretty incredible and almost unique for a chronograph.
Designed to be an exceptionally versatile watch, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Passion defies the norms with its simplistic approach.
The brand has managed to bridge aesthetics with functionality and create a chronograph worth collecting. It is truly the distillation of ‘less is more’. And given it is pretty exclusive — 50 pieces — and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg — 13’500 CHF — we think Girard-Perregaux has a winner here.
To find out more about this and other Girard-Perregaux watches, visit the brand’s website here.