Geneva Watch Days is unfolding and we are bringing you some of our early favourites, starting with the fabulously named Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech. We will simply call the watch the 8Tech because there is nothing else named quite like that. It might also make you wonder what exactly is an 8Tech anyway? Well, watchmaking nerds that we are, we certainly wondered – thankfully the answer is not that Girard-Perregaux is collaborating with the next 4Chan or something. Using 8Tech, “a groundbreaking technique, the case is formed of octagonal carbon parts, creating a random structural pattern,” according to the press release that dropped in our inbox. So many questions, but to settle the matter via the specifications alone, the 44 mm case is made of a carbon and titanium composite.
The 8Tech literally appeared just as we closed our giant chronograph story – well part one anyway – in the coming Autumn issue of WOW, but we simply had to write it up anyway. Isn’t the Internet awesome? Whatever your thoughts might be on that subject, the 8Tech warrants a closer look because the material science behind it and the attendant engineering techniques are mind-blowing. Here once more is how Girard-Perregaux explains it, verbatim (formatting errors in the release aside):
“The case material is composed of unidirectional, non-braided and pre-impregnated carbon fibres, combined with lightweight titanium powder to form extremely thin layers, measuring just 0.05mm in thickness. These layers are superimposed upon one another, each orientated differently to form “stacks” which are then cut into octagons, an industry first.
The octagonal shapes are placed in a mould and subjected to heat and extreme pressure. Thereafter, the case components, including the bezel, are milled from the material and then subsequently refined by hand. This one-of-a-kind technique endows the case with a shimmering appearance.”
From our own research, the above description is pretty close to a textbook description of a composite material, right until you get to the octagons bit, which is likely where we will begin our investigations. For now though, what is notable is that hand-finishing seems possible here, and so is the prized ability to create both matte and polished surfaces. The material appears to have excellent specific strength while being lightweight – it is reportedly five times lighter than steel. That is also better than titanium, and not by a small margin. Unfortunately, Girard-Perregaux did not mention the precise weight of the 8Tech at all, so we will have to await the reports of our friends who are attending the big show in Geneva.
We will close with a note on the chronograph function here, with this watch powered by the automatic in-house GP03300-1058 movement. Unlike a multitude of chronographs at this level, this is a modular number that has borne all sorts of decorations previously. The brand does not crow about this calibre boasting a column wheel so it might be cam-actuated, which is fine. The number of parts here is listed at 419, which is an impressively large number, and provides ample opportunity for fine finishing. Girard-Perregaux has deployed this calibre many times in recent years, including once in a carbon glass watch that foreshadowed the 8Tech.