Quartz. One may look at it with a certain degree of distain. Used heavily in mass-produced, inexpensive time-telling instruments, be it those that hung on the wall or strapped to the wrist, quartz is associated with low cost.
It is perhaps the one word that spooks haute horlogerie enthusiasts away, akin to mentioning the word ‘faux’ to any leather good lovers.
But time has its own way of making technology accessible. The computer once the size of a large room, which cost a fortune and only an institution would have the monetary resource to call it its own, has shrunk to a rectangular slab the size of the palm. It has become affordable and available to us.
Nonetheless, the process itself took decades of gradual improvement by industrial designers, electronic engineers and software engineers.
In the horological context, the quartz movement went through the same long evolution. Back in 1920s, the quartz crystal had to be housed in temperature-controlled crystal ovens to help stabilise the ambient temperature, in order to prevent frequency drift. It took many years, attempts and innovation to finally create and fit a tiny quartz crystal oscillator in a round case that would comfortably rest on the wrist.
One that would also have to contain a battery to provide a tiny charge of electricity for the crystal to oscillate and vibrate at a set frequency. Swiss watchmaker Girard-Perregaux, hailing from La Chaux-de-Fonds, was at the forefront of the quartz movement. It was in 1971 that the manufacture debuted the calibre 350 which operated at 32.786kHz.
Although it wasn’t the first quartz movement developed by the manufacture itself or by others, the significance of it can’t be understated as the said frequency remains the standard until today.
Girard-Perregaux has since built on the success and refined the quartz movement to slice off extra millimetres and make it more energy efficient. By 1975, when the manufacture unveiled the first Laureato to the world, the quartz movement, calibre 705, used was only 25.6mm in diameter. It contained seven jewels, a calendar, a thinner Energizer and a gorgeous emerald-coloured circuit board.
The watch itself was a success, not just because of its accuracy but also it was presented in a sporty look that was favoured at the time.
There were a brushed stainless steel bracelet and polished octagonal bezel, positioned on an integrated case, meaning no lugs or loops, while the white dial adorned a crisp Clous de Paris guilloché pattern, giving it a clean yet quietly sophisticated appearance.
However, the Laureato was given a mechanism overhaul some 20 years after its introduction in 1995. Gone was the pioneering quart movement and in came an exceptional in-house mechanical movement. Even though, some watch manufactures veer towards aggressive styling, whether it’s through partnerships with artists or sports organisations, one element that still stays true when it comes to the Laureato is its classic appeal—one that offers an air of refinement with a hint of sportiness, bolstered by a rich history.
2017 sees a complete birth of the Laureato family in forms of men’s and women’s watches in different dimensions—45mm, 42mm, 38mm and 34mm. At 45mm, the Laureato Tourbillon is undoubtedly the top-of-the-line watch of the Laureato family, which comes in two versions.
The first is consist of a prominent two-tone design in titanium and rose gold, while the second exudes subtle elegance that won’t look out of place shuffling between the boardroom and the tavern.
The latter is powered by the manufacture’s own self-winding GP09510 calibre and housed in a 45mm titanium and white gold case, the watch incorporates a tourbillon in a two-tone scheme dominated by white gold.
Upon a closer inspection, however, you will notice the tourbillon’s balance wheel stands out instantly in rose gold. Furthermore, the single bridge is composed of a three-piece design, in addition to its emblematic arrow shape.
Surrounding the tourbillon is an anthracite dial decorated with a Clous de Paris guilloché hobnail pattern, further setting the watch and the gentleman who adorns it apart.
Turning over to the caseback, the transparent layer of crystal sapphire let you peer into the miniscule moving parts that help the watch tick. There are a total of 191 parts in the GP09510 calibre, held together by 33 jewels.
The in-house movement provides a respectable 49 hours of power reserve while beating at a frequency of 21,600vph. The tourbillon’s micro-rotor is clearly visible here, treating your sight to its hypnotic motion. Finally, the black alligator strap puts on the finishing touch.