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Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition

Car maker and watch company collaborations can be, er, interesting. The verges of Watchworld (oh yes, all this and bad puns too) are littered with a few collabs that would make Dr Frankenstein blush. Others are just a bit meh, despite all the fanfare. Often it’s a lack of synergy between the two firms with one vying for design supremacy over the other or simply just good, old-fashioned ‘make the logo bigger’ branding fuss. One sometimes senses a racing or automotive collaboration gets used to add a little missing shine to an otherwise dull watch.

Girard-Perregaux is a watchmaker that is already quite shiny enough, thank you. Look at what they’ve been up to lately – there’s the Bamford Watch Department collaboration with the ceramic Ghost Laureato and the wonderfully nuts LED quartz Casquette recreation for a start. And now there’s this tie-up with the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Team. Fortunately, they didn’t want the entire name on the dial or it would need a fold-out section.

The Laureato on which the watch is based has been around a while – since the early 1970s.  Originally designed by GP’s own Adolfo Natalini, that distinctive case was originally designed to house a quartz movement, one that GP had helped to develop. Over time, the octagonal bezel has become more pronounced and the case has housed everything from skeleton three-handers to full-on chronographs like the earlier Laureato Aston Martin in stainless steel. But this one is different. For starters, the case isn’t stainless steel this time, it’s made from titanium powder & carbon fiber with carbon extracted from two F1 Aston race cars used during the 2021 season. If that doesn’t max out your watch cool points…

The case is 44mm in diameter and a relatively chunky (although not heavy) just over 15mm tall. And, according to GP, they used “…a high-tech manufacturing process…’ to combine the metal and carbon with a tinted resin. That manufacturing technique also means that no two F1 editions will look exactly alike. Each will have its own case character. It’ll also be water resistant to 100m and equally impervious to podium champagne.

The dial is a stand-out for this particular flavor of Laureato too. Green dials have been quite the thing over the last couple of years – Cartier, Patek and Moser just three of the makers choosing them. But this watch has a right to be green, thanks to its Aston links. Back in 1959, an Aston Martin DBR1 blew the opposition off the track at La Sarthe to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its racing color? Green. Aston have stuck with it ever since, even painting their modern F1 car in the same shade. You have to know your Aston Martin heritage to pick up on the other visual reference; the diamond cross-hatching to the dial. That recalls the carmaker’s original crossed AM logo and, if you were being generous, you could say it also follows the leather quilting used on modern Aston seats. Get the angle right and the markers and GP logo almost seem to float above the dial.

The subdials use countersunk black timing rings with a radiating green pattern inside the dials, picking up the main dial color, and you get chrono hours, minutes and running seconds, all with white markings. Neatly, the yellow of the minute and center chrono seconds tie in with the same yellow band on the chrono start-stop pusher at 2. There’s a date too, not that you’ll be worrying about that as you’re looking sideways coming out of Tertre Rouge. The subdial hands are all skeletonised too; every 1/1000th of a gramme helps, one imagines.

Everything’s easy to see – both dial and movement – under the sapphire crystal and caseback. Talking of movements…

The ref. GP03300-1058 is a lovely thing. Just because the case is all ultra-cool modern material doesn’t mean that the movement isn’t proper haute horlogerie. There’s some seriously high-end finishing going on with it. It’s a manufacture movement and GP have managed to bevel the bridges and plates, engrave them, then add snailing as well as Côtes de Genève. Someone will have been busy too – there are 419 parts, with a boggling 63 jeweled bearings. Practically, it runs at a relatively standard 4Hz/28,800bph and will happily run for just over two days without fuss before you need to give it a shake or a wind.

Even the strap on this watch is special. It’s made from GP’s Rubber Alloy, in Aston Martin Racing Green. The rubber in the alloy is FKM or fluorine rubber. It’s neat stuff; hugely oil, heat and chemical-resistant you’d usually find it doing duty inside an engine as the material for O-ring seals. GP combine it with the carbon fiber from those two F1 cars again. Practically, that means it’s a lot more supple than trad rubber as well as a lot stronger. You fasten everything to your wrist with a micro-adjust buckle.

The F1 is a limited edition of just 306 unnumbered pieces. ‘Why 306?’ you ask. GP and Aston tell us that this is the total distance Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel will aim to cover on race day (5.891km x 52 laps) at the 2022 Silverstone British Grand Prix in July.

Should you buy one? Well, the $27,800 price tag would get you a pretty decent car on its own. But this is a different world – that money snags you just a tenth of a used, 2,000 mile DB11 V8 Coupe. You don’t need us to tell you that this is not, in any sense, a cheap watch.  But if you have the cash sloshing about, Great Aunty Maud leaves you the farm in her will or you win the Lotto, it would make the ideal partner for that DB11 for an Aston lover. Girard-Perregaux

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