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Laurent Ferrier makes a stunning debut

Laurent Ferrier makes a stunning debut

Wednesday, 15 December 2010
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

“The desire to learn is the key to understanding.”

“Thirty years in journalism are a powerful stimulant for curiosity”.

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4 min read

This was Laurent Ferrier’s first time at Belles Montres in Paris, and for a good reason. A year ago, his company wasn’t even on the horological radar.

The brand presented its first watch, the Galet Classique Tourbillon Double Balance Spring, at Baselworld in 2010 where it immediately made its mark, as much for its pared-down classic appearance as its technical sophistication. The cherry on the cake is that this watch took the honours in the Men’s Watch category at this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. “This is an immense honour for us and for this ‘brand new’ watch,” declared Christian Ferrier, a constructor who joined his father in this “family” adventure. “At first we weren’t really interested in competing. In the end though we did take part, and this is the huge surprise that came out of it. This is an incredible turn of events for my father. Not only has he made the watch of his dreams, it has won an award in the very first year the brand was launched!”

Family and friends

After 37 years with Patek Philippe, first as a constructor then head of the technical department, Laurent Ferrier had no desire to leave behind a world that had been his life and his passion. “My friends told me that 62 was the perfect age to embark on making a prestige watch, and in the middle of a global financial crisis to boot,” joked Laurent Ferrier as he received his award. A witticism that speaks volumes about the spirit that drives these watchmakers. Said Christian Ferrier, “Everyone who took part in this project immediately came onboard, beginning with Enrico Barbasini and Michel Navas at La Fabrique du Temps in Geneva. As watch constructors, they are my mentors and were involved from the first pencil strokes in the development of a movement that we decorate, assemble and adjust with our own watchmakers, at this Geneva-based structure set up three years ago.”

It took eighteen months for this group of developers, sub-contractors and craftsmen – all friends and who have all earned their stripes in the world of complications – to produce the watch before our eyes: the Galet Classique Tourbillon Double Balance Spring whose two inversed balance springs compensate for the negative influence of gravity by keeping the balance centre on its axis. “The movement is certified by the Besançon Observatory and proves that the double balance spring combined with the tourbillon allows for extremely precise adjustment of rate,” Laurent Ferrier declared. “This capacity for precise adjustment is what serious watch lovers and collectors now want. The movement is manually-wound and has a power reserve of 80 hours. The mechanism is only visible through the case back. This protects it from daylight which alters the lubricant and therefore precision of rate. It also lends a certain discretion to the treasure inside this bijou of a complication.”

At the Grand Prix de l’horlogerie de Genève 2010, Laurent Ferrier claimed the Men's Watch Prize for his Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral © Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
At the Grand Prix de l’horlogerie de Genève 2010, Laurent Ferrier claimed the Men's Watch Prize for his Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral © Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
Orders until end 2011

For this debut model, Laurent Ferrier clearly had in mind the timepieces that vied in 1960s Observatory contests. “When you set out to make a watch like this, you absolutely have to respect standards of reliability and precision,” declared Christian Ferrier. “This is why we chose a double balance spring in a tourbillon positioned on the reverse side. This shaves millimetres in a movement that is 5.57mm high while preserving the uncluttered aspect of the dial. Such a highly ingenious mechanism as this, which of course is by no means new, is extremely demanding in terms of adjustment, which our watchmakers master. If you add the finishing and the craftsmanship required to achieve the level of quality we desire, then consider our production capacity, we cannot go beyond some twenty pieces. The orders we have will take us up to end 2011.”

What does tomorrow hold? Laurent Ferrier is working on a new movement he will present at the Geneva Time Exhibition in January 2011. It is based on the calibre in the Galet Classique Tourbillon Double Balance Spring with an additional complication. This will be a unique timepiece, made to order. A third project is also in its final stages for Baselworld. The last word goes to Christian Ferrier: “I believe our first model says everything there is to say about our capacity to produce exceptional calibres.”

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