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Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph TI49 Watch Review

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph TI49

Titanium is quickly becoming the biggest trend in watchmaking. I’m not going to say we called it early, but we most definitely did. It makes a lot of sense as a metal; it’s incredibly light of course, corrosion resistant, non-magnetic and relatively strong, all things that a watchmaker should care about. In fact, it’s an all but perfect material for a sports watch. Such as… the new Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph Ti49.

It’s odd because Grade 5 titanium, the specific alloy that’s most common in watchmaking, has been around for a while now. The mix of 90% titanium, 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium was invented in 1951, so it’s not exactly cutting edge. But it is used in everything from aerospace to medicine for its natural properties, so has an air of the advanced.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph TI49
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph TI49

Perhaps more importantly then is the style of titanium. Sure, it’s been around as a metal for a while and used liberally everywhere but watches, so why is it now so en vogue? I’d posit that it’s the ongoing taste for the industrial, drawing from Gerald Genta and the striking, faceted designs that retrospectively came to dominate watchmaking in the 1970s. You know the sort: the Royal Oak, the Nautilus and, of course, the unsung, non-Genta black sheep of the lot, the Girard- Perregaux Laureato.

I’ve always loved the Laureato. It doesn’t have the baggage of hype that the AP and Patek equivalents do and I’ve always seen it as a more elegant interpretation of the same design codes. The original 1975 ‘quartz chronometer’ may not have made the same splash, but these days it’s a respected, if still relatively off-centre pick. It also makes a perfect candidate for a titanium revamp.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph TI49

And so, we have the Laureato Chronograph Ti49, named for the fact that it’s a pre-anniversary watch of sorts, before you start getting worried the number is its diameter. Next year the Laureato will celebrate its half-centenary and this intermittently shiny new entry into its 50-year canon is a 49th birthday present.

I say intermittently shiny as that mix of octagonal bezel on a circle on a tonneau case has been rendered in a mix of brushed and polished titanium. The bezel is brushed on top, polished on the sides, while the case goes even further with brushed flat surfaces and polished edges. It’s a gorgeous look and one that really emphasises the watch’s ‘70s lines. The bracelet is a little more overt with the contrast, using brushed links with polished mid-links. To round it all off, the crown and chronograph pushers are polished, picking them out against the largely matte case.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph TI49

It’s a relatively subtle overall contrast of textures over colour, and something that we’re seeing more watchmakers – especially at Girard-Perregaux’s level – play with. It’s a way to elevate an otherwise straightforward (or as straightforward as that Laureato bezel can be) concept without adding the kind of lavish detailing that would ruin the sporty look.

The same concept’s carried through to the dark grey dial. I’d have personally liked to see more of a tone-on-tone look with the natural colour of the titanium, but then I’m a sucker for two polar opposites: monochrome and bright colours. Instead, the dial’s darker colour is emphasised with a hobnail pattern a little more delicate than the Royal Oak’s tappisserie. The subdials are the inset with radial, record-like engravings and lightly painted numerals and indexes.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph TI49

On the main dial, the indexes are big, bold and pop almost off the dial – as does the GP at 12 o’clock – so the whole thing has a kind of verticality to it without treading into anything you might deem ‘architectural’. My only issue with it is the off-centre date window. It’s not the placement I have an issue with, but the fact it’s there at all, especially as the black background adds just another, busier element to the otherwise carefully balanced construction.

So how does it wear? Well the titanium is, obviously, incredibly light weight. But it doesn’t feel like a toy. There’s enough solidity to the construction and the 42mm case is large enough that there’s some weight to it. Just not all of the weight. It also wears slightly larger than I’d expect from 42mm, mainly because of that tonneau construction and the addition of the chronograph pusher/crown guard combination at three o’clock. It’s not bulky, but anyone expecting a smaller equivalent of ‘70s style might find it a touch big. Though I have to admit, after a couple hours with it on, it felt absolutely fantastic, one of those watches that conceptually I’d like smaller but would be more than happy to wear at its current size.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph TI49

The movement inside is the GP03300-0141. Snappy. Don’t worry about memorising the calibre though as all you need to know is that it’s an automatic movement with a 46-hour power reserve, protected by 100m of water resistance and beating at 4hz. Incidentally, you can check out precisely what that frequency means in our article on the subject earlier in this magazine. This is Girard-Perregaux so the movement will be immaculately finished – you just can’t see it through the solid caseback, more of a nod to its sporty intentions than obfuscation.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph TI49

Honestly, of all the titanium sports watches coming out, the Laureato is the perfect match for the material. It’s always been one of the more nuanced designs, pairing sportiness with elegance much more successfully than most players in the field, whether they’re better known or not. That this is a 49th birthday present also has more a little bit excited by what its 50th will be like.

Price and Specs:

Model: Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph TI49
Ref: IW395601
Case: 42mm diameter x 12mm thickness, titanium
Dial: Grey with ‘Clous de Paris’ pattern
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: GP calibre GP03300-0141, automatic, 63 jewels, 419 parts
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 46h
Functions: Hours, minutes, chronograph
Strap: Titanium bracelet
Price: £16,500

More details at Girard-Perregaux.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.