The Girard-Perregaux Laureato has been on fire the last couple of years as collectors seek to find good-looking quality alternatives to less attainable metal sports watches. But for those looking for something that stands out among the wolf pack, the Laureato Absolute line—with its sapphire crystal cases—is much more dynamic, significantly rarer and, of course, a lot more expensive. And the company just released two striking new models.
Both models are sizeable at 44 mm by 11.56 mm offering plenty of space for a view of the self-winding mechanical skeletonized FP01800-1143 caliber. The architecture of the NAC-treated bridges and mainplate—executed in traits-tiré (long drawn lines) and circular satin finishing and beveling, as well as 55 hand-polished inner angles—begs to be noticed on the wrist. As it should: A skeleton movement is difficult to execute and here it’s made even more complex with the material used in the casing of both versions.
The Absolute Laureato Light & Shade features a metalized sapphire crystal case to give the clear material a smokey effect. Sapphire crystal cases are notoriously expensive to create—they must be machined with diamond-tipped tools thanks to their hardness—and can take a significant amount of time to create. The company uses a process that heats and crystallizes alumina powder, transforming it into a solid block of sapphire crystal over a period of eight weeks before it is even machined. The block is then cut into small discs to form the bezel, case middle and case back before being thermally treated and polished. Each must be carefully screened to make sure no inclusions were created in the process. The finishing metalization treatment is added to the parts in a vacuum to create the appearance of shading. Each case requires 170 hours of work alone, so while this model is not limited, it will be made in very small production numbers.
But Girard-Perregaux is offering something a bit more colorful and certainly rarer for its Asian clientele. The Laureato Absolute Light & Fire is limited to just 18 pieces. It comes in a cherry red polycrystalline material referred to as YAG, which looks strikingly similar to sapphire crystal but is used here because it is more conducive to creating this particular shade of deep red. The color was chosen to honor the Chinese New Year and symbolizes “energy, vitality and prosperity,” according to Girard-Perregaux.
Prospective clients will need plenty of the latter in order to purchase one of these two Absolute Laureatos. Both retail for $99,600 and will be available for purchase in authorized Girard-Perregaux dealers worldwide. The Absolute Laureto Light & Fire, however, will first make its debut in China, and thanks to the fact that it does not follow the traditional Swiss watchmaking route of featuring cartoonish representations of Chinese New Year animals on handpainted mètier d’arts dials, it will likely sell out before you can get your hands on one.