Girard-Perregaux is a brand that is, in 2017, 226 years old, making it one of the oldest names in horology that is still making ground in the realm of watchmaking today. Consider the Constant Escapement watch that they announced in 2013, or the astounding stories they convey through their metiers d’art pieces within the Chamber of Wonders collection.

Mind you, these are fairly recent introductions. For a maison that has existed for over two centuries now, you have to wonder what other great works of horology must have come from the brand in the past that perhaps are no longer part of present knowledge.

It is therefore often up to the brand to revive creations from its past, not simply as a means of showcasing its rich heritage, but also as a way to allow a new generation to experience venerated timepieces from its past. Girard-Perragaux did exactly this at Basel last year with the unveiling of a modern version of their child-from-the-70s, the Laureato.

The Laureato came into the watch sphere in 1975, when cues like the linked bracelet and hexagonal bezels were definitive elements ascribed to a new breed of wristwatches termed the luxury sports watches. You can see these attributes clearly executed with the right blend of Girard-Perragaux’s own DNA worked into the watch — except that in order to keep up with what was by then already the mid-’70s — the first version of the Laureato was produced in a dual-tone execution with an in-house-developed quartz movement.

You must remember that this was, after all, in the middle of the Quartz Crisis, and those bold enough in the industry, like Girard-Perragaux, had to work up the courage to incorporate this new technology into the best of their new headliner pieces.

Sketch of the original 1975 Laureato
The original 1975 Laureato

But with Girard-Perragaux, the quartz movement that was utilized wasn’t just a matter of simple circuitry thrown together. The brand had been delving into producing its own in-house quartz movements from as early as 1971. So, by the time the Laureato was produced, the brand had amassed enough knowledge that they were able to pursue an incredible level of accuracy with the movement used within the 1975 unveiling.

This movement was the Caliber 705 and it was adjusted such that the quartz crystal within would oscillate at a staggering frequency of 32,768Hz. Such frequencies are, no doubt, unheard-of in the realm of mechanical watches. In fact, at that time, such frequencies were unheard-of even in the domain of quartz watches. So, accurate was the resulting movement, therefore, that Girard-Perragaux was able to take on stringent accuracy tests and have the movement rated a chronometer. This was such an important achievement in this brave new world of watch making that the rating itself was allotted two lines of text at the six o’clock position of the dial, where it read, “Quartz Chronometer”.

Girard Perragaux Caliber 705 quartz movement.

Of course, the other story worth recounting about the 1975 Girard-Perragaux Laureato is the origin of its name and perhaps a glimpse into how closely the brand held its relationships with its retailers. The archives have it recorded that the name Laureato was taken directly off Mike Nichols’s 1967 film, The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross. The name was proposed for the watch by an Italian distributor of the brand, by suggesting the Italian word for “graduate” — “laureato”.

Propelled by the success of the initial introduction, it was in 1984 that Girard-Perragaux decided to produce the next generation of the Laureato — this time, with a mechanical movement that introduced a complication into the watch.

The movement marked the introduction of the Equation movements with astronomical indicators. Other than that, the watch mostly retained all of the original aesthetics, save for the bracelet which now had domed, gold interlinks.

The next point of evolution for the watch would come after quite a bit of a gap in 1995, with the introduction of a larger Laureato that made room in the case for the all-new cal. GP 3100 automatic movement. In the following year, the Laureato took its largest leap by taking on Girard-Perragaux’s highest demonstration of haute horology: A Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges movement.

The Graduate, with Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft which inspired the name of the Laureato.
GP Laureato 1984

The year 2003 then saw the EVO3 collection line of Laureato. First, there was the one fitted with the cal. GP 033C0-A0VAA, a chronograph timepiece with a central-pinion-mounted seconds and minute chronograph hands. Additional counters on the dial included a running seconds subdial at three o’clock, a 12-hour counter at six o’clock, a 24-hour counter at nine o’clock, and lastly, a date subdial at 12 o’clock.

There was also a version of the EVO3 — the Sport Classique Laureato EVO3 Large Date — that featured a grande date window at 12 o’clock, a combination of a running seconds and moonphase subdial at seven o’clock, and lastly, a power-reserve indicator between four and five o’clock. However, the most captivating version of the EVO3 was possibly the EVO3 Tourbillon with Sapphire Bridges. As the name suggests, this was a rendition of Girard-Perregaux’s Three Bridges Tourbillon movement rendered with clear or blue sapphire bridges. Incidentally, and on a very personal level, this might possibly be the most collectible and desirable Laureato to date. Here’s hoping that Girard-Perragaux brings this one back within the present-day collection.

As it may be apparent by now, the fate of the Laureato seemed to be on an upward trajectory with evermore varied complications, albeit with the original silhouette fully intact. But decked out, complicated watches aren’t everyone’s thing. Especially in recent days when there’s been a subtle shift in mind-sets and preferences toward sober, classic elegance in modern-day horology.

The average 21st century watch buyer also seems to be on the lookout for versatility when considering buying a new timepiece. Something that can go from the most formal of affairs to the most thumpin’ pool parties. Oddly enough it is the 70s born luxury sports watches that fit this bill to a T. Therefore, Girard-Perregaux could’ve decided on no better time than Basel of 2016 to bring back the Laureato in its simplest form: An all stainless-steel watch with hours, minutes and seconds plus date indication.

Granted, in 2017, the collection has already multiplied to introduce size options: 34, 38, 42 and even the 45mm Laureato Tourbillon or the 42mm Laureato Skeleton, what must be understood is that a watch that was born to be versatile is, also, going to serve a watchmaker as a canvas for expression. But, know that for Girard-Perregaux, this expansion of the Laureato was never a banal exercise.

Rather, within the year that passed since it’s reintroduction, the brand took on real hard criticism and feedback from both customers and retailers to address fundamental points of improvement, such as the suppleness of the steel bracelet or how the clasp secures and sits against the back of the wrist. Simple as these may sound, for a watch that most would be looking to buy as an everyday timepiece, it is these very same little things that can make or break how “everyday” the watch is worn.

So, could the Girard-Perragaux Laureato be your answer for a daily wearer? Only one way to find out. Head on out to a retailer near you. We’re just hoping you won’t hold it against us when and if you have trouble taking the Laureato off your wrist once you’ve had a chance to try it on.