The Girard-Perregaux Competizione Stradale watch hands-on
The Girard-Perregaux three-counter-chronographs are among the most sought-after timepieces because of their style, quality, and market value. Models like the Montecarlo 1973 with its wonderful Panda dial or the Montecarlo 1965 with its vintage cream dial are definitely among today’s most interesting, current, and stylish pieces even if we include the limited editions crafted in partnership with Ferrari; the very first successful cooperation project between an haute-horlogerie manufacturer and a sports car company.
This collaboration venture was made possible thanks to the friendship link that existed, back in the days, between Luigi Macaluso and Ferrari. Girard-Perregaux must have really made the most out of this experience and crowned it as a very successful phase of its history, the two Montecarlo timepieces are currently impossible to find and so are those timepices that were produced a few years ago together with Club Italia – the source of inspiration for the new Girard-Perregaux Competizione Stradale – and only a very few avid collectors who have not resold them on the market are lucky enough to host these pieces in one of their drawers.
Not buying one of these items for an attractive retail price if compared to today’s value when I was given this great chance is one of the biggest evaluation mistakes I have ever made as a collector. Two years ago, I was about to buy the Montecarlo Chrono GMT that Bernard Watch was selling in mint conditions and perfectly wrapped but I hesitated and today the market value of that particular watch is almost 6,000 euro.
The three V-shaped counters with round buttons by Girard-Perregaux are vintage-inspired chronographs that are easily recognizable, their image is clear and neat and the new Girard-Perregaux Competizione Stradale seems to be the first “admission of guilty” by the manufacturer from La Chaux de Fonds that realized that it had left a champion on the bench for too long. The name of Italian origin is not only a tribute to our tradition but to the bond that the sports chrono had with the Lancia Stratos and Munari, Club Italia, Fiat and so on.
If we were to look for a direct source of inspiration for the Girard-Perregaux Competizione Stradale among the many chronographs ever crafted, we could probably think about the 49580 reference, the flyback chrono from the noughties whose black dial version looks like the 40mm copy of the new chrono. The size of the case has almost reached the 42mm in diameter, the bezel, on the other hand, is thinner and contributes to that “all dial” effect that designers like to play with.
The final result is a case that looks bigger than its actual 42mm in size but it is actually not a tenth of a millimeter larger than 42mm. The brand has completely abandoned the Arabic numbers on the dial by applying baton indexes only, the reference to the world of cars can be seen only on the tachy scale positioned on the external ring, on the bright red colour of the central chrono hand, and on the hand of the small seconds located at 3 o’clock. When it comes to limited editions, it is obvious that the manufacturer has opted for cutting off all ties with its past, particular shades of colour and some other excesses that Girard-Perregaux is no longer interested in being associated with (the same thing happened with the new Laureato.)
On the Girard-Perregaux Competizione Stradale, the round buttons are taken to the extreme, Girard-Perregaux calls these buttons “mushrooms” because of the elongated shape of the stem that seems to remind us of the shape of the first competition Rattrapante chronos – this type of complication is very well known in the workshops of La Chaux de Fonds -.
Some not too brave choices have a bit affected the overall result of this new creation; a glass box crystal would have worked better than a bezel when coupled with a 42mm case and a very clean dial, the same thing can be said for the absence of the “GP” logo that takes away that premium feeling from this watch. Were this choices taken because the manufacturer didn’t want to create a copy of the Montecarlo? Maybe that’s the reason or simply it was the will to keep the dial extremely neat and also to create an aesthetic and image level that is more neutral if compared to the style of the chronos from the noughties. Some of the Ferrari timepieces are still extremely beautiful but one logo too many – still nothing if compared to today’s timepieces - has probably limited their market value if compared to that of standard versions.
The Girard-Perregaux Competizione Stradale is equipped with the chrono version of the automatic GP3300 caliber running at a frequency of 4Hz and guaranteeing a power reserve slightly above 45 hours. This caliber has been crafted exclusively in the Girard-Perregaux workshops, during the years it has progressively developed, the date module is located at 4 o'clock, from an aesthetic point of view it hasn't changed and it is easily recognizable thanks to its Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges and the "half moon-sized rotor" that rotates on ceramic-made ball bearings. The approximately 10.000 euro that you need to get your hands on a Girard-Perregaux Competizione Stradale represent the brand's will to underline its historic manufacturing pedigree and its leadership in crafting vintage-inspired three-counter-chronographs.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®