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The Girard-Perregaux Laureato has gone through so many mutations and transformations since the design was first introduced in 1975, that it’s hard to think of a single model that really embodies its essence. The first Laureato, after all, was a thin quartz watch and it represents a period when not only GP, but the Swiss watch industry as a whole, was struggling to find a way through the Quartz Crisis.
That the first Girard-Perregaux Laureato was a quartz watch, not a mechanical one, is significant as well; GP was one of the first Swiss brands to offer a quartz watch. The first in-house GP quartz movement was the Elcron caliber, which came out in 1970 and ran at 8,192 Hz. In 1971, however, the GP-350 caliber debuted – this was the first quartz movement with a crystal vibrating at 32,768 Hz, which has become the frequency standard for almost all quartz movements made, right up to the present.

Some people find the Laureato’s design derivative of the Royal Oak, but I don’t see it that way – there are some, I think, fairly trivial similarities, including the use of an octagonal bezel, but if you put the two watches side-by-side they seem to me to clearly be going after different effects. The Royal Oak has a much more visually aggressive, overt angularity which the Laureato manifestly is not trying to ape; instead, it’s shooting for a slim, relatively unobtrusive vibe that, the steel case and eight-sided bezel notwithstanding, has much more to do with the mid-century ideal of a thin, elegant dress watch than it does with the flashy geometry of the Royal Oak. Whether this is or isn’t a good thing is a matter of taste, but the original Laureato is, I think, fundamentally a much more conservative design than the Royal Oak, at least in terms of its underlying aspirations.
The original Girard-Perregaux Laureato, therefore, wasn’t just an attempt to use a modern design idiom to achieve the feel of a traditional thin dress watch – it was an attempt by Girard-Perregaux, and by extension the Swiss watch industry, to assert itself as a leader in both aesthetic and technical modernity; not for nothing did it proudly say “chronometer” on the dial of the original Laureato. It’s on the same continuum with later, even more extreme examples of ultra-thin quartz horology, like the Omega Dinosaure or Concord Delirium, and it’s also an ancestor to later thin, integrated bracelet quartz watches such as the 1980 Piaget Polo (another now-classic design that started out as a quartz watch, with the caliber 7P in 1979 and 8P in 1980).
Girard-Perregaux Laureato was exclusively a quartz watch for quite a long time (it was used as a vehicle for quartz complications as well) and, interestingly enough, the first mechanical Laureato didn’t come along until fairly late in the game. In 1995, GP introduced a mechanical Laureato with its in-house automatic caliber 3100. The 3000 family of movements was first introduced, just the year before, in 1994, and like the original Laureato, they are rather conservative in certain respects – they’re relatively small by modern standards, at 11 1/2 lignes, or 25.60 mm x 3.36mm, for the caliber 3300 (the caliber 3000 is a 10 1/2 ligne movement). However, this is comparable to the ETA 2892, which is also an 11 1/2 ligne caliber (and 3.6mm thick). The 3300, which is used in the just-released 38mm Laureato watches, is a fairly high-beat caliber, at 28,8000 vph.

The 3000 family of GP movements, by the way, has found its way into some interesting watches from other brands. MB&F uses the 3300 caliber as the basis for a number of its Horological Machines, where its dimensions and general reliability give a lot of flexibility in overall design and mechanical implementation; in 1996, Vacheron Constantin used the GP 3100 as the Vacheron Constantin caliber 1311, in the first series of the Overseas watch – the first new model launched by VC after it was acquired by the Vendôme Group.