[VIDEO] Hands-On with the Copper Dial Girard-Perregaux Laureato 38

There’s not much left to say about the resurgence of the integrated bracelet sport watch and the many modern iterations we’ve seen on the theme. Some have history, many more don’t, and it certainly hasn’t gotten any easier to decipher the unique elements that make one stand out from another. I’d argue that this comes down to execution which, when paired with a historically relevant and idiosyncratic approach, tends to produce the best example of the genre. Though that’s not a rule, merely a subjective observation. One of the more peculiar examples of this is the Girard-Perregaux Laureato, a watch that was released smack in the middle of the ‘70s, designed by an Italian architect, and has experienced a slightly tumultuous lineage, all leading to this graceful 38mm reference with copper dial. 

The Laureato has an interesting and varied history, yet is often absent from the discussion around great sport watches of the ‘70s. It wasn’t designed by Gerald Genta, like the Royal Oak, Nautilus, and Ingenieur watches of the same era, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a great origin story. Similarly to those other watches, the original design holds up remarkably well today, and Girard-Perregaux has preserved the core of the Laureato admirably, though some less than flattering eras to boot.


[VIDEO] Hands-On with the Copper Dial Girard-Perregaux Laureato 38

Stainless Steel
Copper Clous de Paris
Super LumiNova
Integrated steel bracelet
Water Resistance
100 meters
Lug Width
Screw Down
2 yrs

The Laureato was introduced in 1975, 3 years after the Royal Oak. The watch’s designer was famed Italian architect, Adolfo Natalini, who would go on to found the architectural collective known as Superstudio. His philosophy translates surprisingly well in the form of the Laureato, which falls effortlessly inline with the ‘70s sport watch design meta. The octagonal structure framing the case differs slightly from the porthole aesthetic, but manages to hit an overall similar tone and style while still setting itself apart. Like other watches from the era, there’s a delicate balance between the proportions and the tension at work between the contrasting lines and surfaces. 

This Laureato with copper dial is currently the only steel Laureato that can be had in 38mm, though it’s a collection that’s no stranger to this sizing across its history. This example feels like a new path being created within the collection which will likely host a variety of colors and materials. In fact, there’s already another 38mm Laureato in the current collection and that is the British Racing Green ceramic model commemorating their relationship with Aston Martin. Girard-Perregaux haven’t been shy about using more exotic materials and complications in this collection, with families like the Absolute, and Evo3 of the past all living under the Laureato banner.

The more established size in the modern Laureato line is 42mm, which can be had with a range of dial colors, many of which would be a welcome addition to the 38mm frame. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with this copper dial, which is, in fact, quite lovely. Like the 42mm Laureato, this example hosts the Clous de Paris motif and catches light in a variety of interesting ways. What sets this smaller Laureato apart is the rich coppery tone that it manages to achieve, paired with a seconds hand and date disco of the same color. In my experiences with dials in this hue range, they are a joy to behold and appreciate, but can be trickier to pair with outfits or looks. At least within my own wardrobe, which is perhaps more of an indictment on my style than of the watch being inflexible. Your mileage may vary in this department. 

One of the more impressive feats of the Laureato is how it manages to balance the relationship between the dial and the integrated case. There’s plenty of details to catch your attention, yet the dial always feels like the focal point here. Much of this comes down to proportions, of which this watch gets top marks. The case and bezel are distinctive, with different finishes between the variety of surfaces, yet don’t feel overpowering to the rest of the watch. It’s a cohesive experience in use and on the wrist. 

Pondering this watch at 38mm, alongside the 42mm variant, I can’t help but wonder if the true sweet spot in size may just be 40mm. This comes down to the case shape and taper of the bracelet, which isn’t nearly as wide at its pickup point as other integrated bracelet watches. The Laureato manages this so well that I don’t think such a dramatic size down is entirely necessary to get the desired effect. That’s not to say that the 38mm is too small or uncomfortable, it isn’t either of those things, but I do think a 40mm option would suit this watch rather well.

As it is, the 38mm case measures a hair under 10mm in thickness, and around 45mm from end to end, and absolutely disappears on the wrist throughout the day. This is a watch that you can put on in the morning and go the entire day before taking it off and realize that you haven’t once glanced down at it. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing here. It’s great that it’s comfortable and doesn’t get in the way, but it’s almost too inconspicuous, and I never found a real X factor at work here that would compel me to glance at my wrist, even if it wasn’t to check the time. 

For me, this goes back to the dial color. This watch, with a dial more suitable to my taste likely would have elicited more glances and more bonding. There’s very little to complain about with this watch, and overall I believe it to be a worthy member of the historic integrated sport watch club, and best of all, it might be the most accessible of the bunch. Unfortunately, Girard-Perregaux lacks (at the moment) some of the cache currently enjoyed by the likes of Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, but it isn’t due to a lack of history or bona fides, which they have in spades. Thankfully, brand cache and hype status doesn’t carry much water in assessing how good a watch really is, and Girard-Perregaux can make a pretty damn good watch. 

That brings us to the movement at use here, which is the GP03300 made by Girard-Perregaux. It is visible through an open caseback, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it beautiful, it’s simply a nice looking automatic movement about on par with what you’d expect visually in the price range. G-P is known for their movement manufacturing know-how, much like stablemate Ulysse Nardin is, even to the extent that they supply other brands with movements and movement parts via white label work, as well as public appearances in watches like the MB&F HM8 and HM8 mark 2.

Point being, the Laureato uses a movement with some pedigree, which may or may not help justify the $14,900 price tag. This watch, paired with the excellent case, dial, and bracelet, feels entirely on par with other watches in this price range, and even quite a few above it. While still not inexpensive by any stretch, when considered amongst its peers, I’d suggest that the Laureato lands in value rich territory, even though it’s obviously not a value conscious watch. The bracelet is another huge component here when considering the price. This is the kind of thing that can set a watch apart in a genre rife with all manner of build quality. 

The Laureato hits all the notes that it needs to, and does it with enough of its own style that make it hard to root against. The bracelet is silky and well finished at every angle, the case and dial utilize their own historic design language, and the movement brings another level of prestige to the situation. It even got its name from the 1967 film, The Graduate, which translates to Il Laureato in Italian, where G-P enjoyed broad distribution in the era. There’s some serious swagger going on with this watch. 

My biggest complaint here comes down to the lack of options, and my curiosity about a 40mm case. It seems a safe bet that we’ll see other dial colors down the line, which could go a long way in bringing new buyers to the table, especially when other staples of the genre remain unavailable. But don’t think of the Laureato as a compromise. Think of it as an opportunity, mostly for Girard-Perregaux to build on a new foundation now that they (along with Ulysse Nardin) have been released from the Kering group, to the leadership of Patrick Pruniaux. Girard-Perregaux could certainly be thought of as a sleeping giant, and the Laureato is likely its clearest path to revival. Girard-Perregaux.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.