Girard-Perregaux Introduces the Laureato Absolute Light

Sapphire crystal case.

Girard-Perregaux’s luxury-sports watch is available in the usual range of materials, as well as some unusual carbon-glass composites, and now sapphire with the Laureato Absolute Light.

At first glance it appears to adhere to a common formula – executing a well-known case design in sapphire – but Girard-Perregaux has tweaked a few elements to make it a little more interesting, while maintaining transparent-mechanical look prized in such watches.

Initial thoughts

Ultra-luxe sports watches with sapphire cases are surprisingly common, despite the accompanying price tag. Typically the design can be varied little, since what most brands do is produce their signature style in sapphire. So the way to stand out is to make the details a little bit more interesting, and the price tag a little less high.

Girard-Perregaux has succeeded in the former – amongst the interesting details here are the movement and hours chapter ring – while doing so-so on the latter. At 85,000 Swiss francs, the Laureato Absolute Light is a lot of money, but amongst sapphire-case sports watches, the price is middle of the road.

Framed by lugs

The 44 mm case is typical Laureato, which is a circle within an octagon within a tonneau-shaped case. Admittedly the standard Laureato does bear a strong resemblance to a handful of famous Gerald Genta case designs, but when rendered in sapphire the Laureato does look quite original.

The case construction is unusual in that the titanium lugs bookend each side of the sapphire case middle. In most sapphire cases, the metal lug attachments are either inside the sapphire, as Hublot does it, or extend into the strap as in the Richard Mille sapphire cases; a necessity because the strap cannot be attached directly to sapphire, which is too hard and fragile to resist the torsional or tensile force of a strap.

At first glance the titanium lugs seem out of place, but they actually work well, being neutral in colour and finish. And they also serve to echo the metal parts of the movement.

Skeleton movement

As a consequence of Girard-Perregaux being a comprehensively, vertically-integrated manufacture – and has been for some three decades – the movement is smartly executed, and significantly customised for this watch.

Most notably, the base plate is octagonal, tracing the shape of the bezel. More novel is the integration of the base plate into the case – all eight screws that run from back to bezel also secure the main plate, which means the movement does away with the usual (and usually ugly) clamps found in standard cases.

The movement is a skeletonised version of the GP01800 automatic, which has the advantage of having its balance wheel positioned at 12, and the barrel almost at six, giving the open-worked version a strong visual balance.

Beyond the skeletonised movement, the dial also has an unusual detail, a wave-form ring that frames the movement, while also serving as a subtle hour chapter ring, with each hour represented by a polished, flat top on each crest of the wave.

Going by the photos the movement finish appears done well, incorporating a handful of inward angles amongst its bevelled edges, which unsurprising given the typical quality of Girard-Perregaux movements.


Key facts and price

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Light
Ref. 81071-43-231-FB6A

Diameter: 44 mm
Height: 11.56 mm
Material: Sapphire and titanium
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: GP01800-1143
Features: Hours and minutes
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 54 hours

Strap: Black rubber with titanium folding clasp

Limited edition: 88 pieces
Availability:
 Already at retailers
Price: 85,000 Swiss francs; or 120,000 Singapore dollars

For more, visit girard-perregaux.com.


 

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Urwerk Introduces the UR-100 Gold Edition

In 18k yellow gold.

Returning to a metal it has not used in a long time, Urwerk debuts the UR-100 Gold Edition in 18k yellow gold. It’s a limited edition of just 25 watches, with the first watch slated to be sold to benefit medical research in an online auction.

The Gold Edition is the fourth iteration of the brand’s entry-level watch, which was previously available only in steel. Because of the case material, the Gold Edition is more costly, but by a reasonable margin, than the earlier steel versions.

Initial thoughts

Though Urwerk watches make the most sense in steel or titanium – those materials match the sci-fi style and mechanics – they have the most appealing tangible feel in precious metal. And brushed yellow gold has a restrained-but-luxe look that I like, though I would worry about it being quite easily scuffed.

The downside of an Urwerk watch in gold or platinum is typically weight, and the resulting poor ergonomics. But as the UR-100 is one of the smallest, and definitely the slimmest, Urwerk watches to date, it is likely the most wearable gold Urwerk to date.

Importantly, it’s priced at about 20% over the steel version, or 10,000 Swiss francs, which is reasonable as such things go. The Gold Edition is worth the stretch, assuming you can live with the less-robust case material.

2N gold

The gold case is finished with a pronounced brushed finish, with the edges framed by polished bevels, resulting in a soft sheen that goes with the pale colour of the alloy – 2N gold according to Urwerk – that’s a departure from the rose gold Urwerk typically turns to. The outer bridge and carousel on the dial are aluminium are usual, but both have been gold plated to match the case.

That aside, the Gold Edition is identical to the earlier versions of the UR-100. It’s powered by the UR 12.01 automatic movement that has the brand’s signature satellite-type wandering hours.

Supporting medical research

Urwerk will auction the first watch of the series, which has been christened “Fight C-19”, in a two-day online auction that starts on May 8.

All proceeds from its sale will be donated to medical charities that are working to alleviate the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The winning bidder, in collaboration with Urwerk, will get to select the charities that receive the donation.

The auction starts at 4 pm CET on May 8, 2020. To bid, visit Urwerk.store.


Key facts and price

Urwerk UR-100 Gold Edition

Case diameter: 41 mm
Case height: 14 mm
Material: 18k yellow gold
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: UR 12.01
Features: Satellite hours and minutes; Earth’s rotational and orbital distance
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 48 hours

Strap: Alligator

Limited edition: 25 pieces
Availability: At Urwerk retailers; the first piece will be sold for charity on Urwerk.store
Price: 58,000 Swiss francs; or 89,300 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Urwerk.com.


 

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Bell & Ross Introduces the BR 03-92 HUD

Mil-spec electronics made mechanical.

In a smart bit of irony, the latest aviation-instrument edition from Bell & Ross – the BR 03-92 HUD – is a mechanical replica of the electronic heads-up display (HUD) in fighter jets, reproducing the green and black screen from the cockpit with sapphire crystal and Super-Luminova.

The BR 03-92 HUD follows on other instrument panel-inspired BR 03 watches, including the BR 03-92 Red Radar of 2011, which was probably the cleverest of the editions, until new HUD.

Initial thoughts

In its initial years, Bell & Ross (B&R) took the military-instrument aspect of the BR series pretty seriously, and the watches were largely no-nonsense pilot’s watches. But starting a couple of years ago the designs have gotten more lighthearted – from full “lume” to skulls – which conversely makes sense.

The HUD continues with the theme, while managing some self-reflective humour in being a mechanical watch, but manages to capture the cockpit display.

And as is typical for the BR series, the watch is powered by an ordinary movement, but presented in a high-quality case made by B&R’s sister company, G&F Chatelain (and both, in turn, are owned by Chanel), and accompanied by an accessible retail price. In short, it’s a fun, affordable watch that’s well executed.

Tinted crystal

The HUD-style watch face is achieved with simple but effective construction that creates several layers of glow-in-the-dark green: the sapphire crystal is tinted green with a coating on its underside, with the four brackets to simulate the HUD screen also printed on the underside in Super-Luminova.

The minute and seconds hands are painted in the same tint of Super-Luminova, but with their collets painted matte black to create the impression of floating hands. And just below is the hour hand, which is a full disc painted with green triangle for the hours.

The rest of the watch is standard BR 03-92, which means a 42 mm case in matte black ceramic, along with a Sellita SW300-1 movement inside (which is a clone of the ETA 2892).


Key facts and price

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 HUD
Ref. BR0392-HUD-CE/SRB

Case diameter: 42 mm
Material: Black ceramic
Crystal: Green-tinted sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: BR-CAL.302 (Sellita SW300-1)
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Black rubber; additional strap in fabric

Limited edition: 999 pieces
Availability: From June 2020
Price: US$3,990; or 5,900 Singapore dollars

To find out more, visit Bellross.com.


 

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