Laurent Ferrier is widely known for creating classical watches imbued with traditional watchmaking crafts and mechanical excellence. Now, the esteemed Genevan atelier has crafted a new contemporary watch, the Grand Sport Tourbillon, which upholds the company’s no-compromise approach to watchmaking. Housed in a sporty 44mm stainless steel case, this is the brand’s first model equipped with an integrated stainless steel bracelet. This new addition to Laurent Ferrier’s portfolio of models features a tourbillon, double balance spring and the firm’s legendary exalted finishing.
A Passion for Sport
During the 1970s, Laurent Ferrier was often seen behind the wheel of a racing car. He competed in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times and secured a victory in the two-litre prototype category in 1977. Laurent competed at Le Mans again in 1979 and came third in the overall ranking along with his team mate, François Servanin. Interestingly, Paul Newman came second in the race.
François Servanin and Laurent Ferrier co-founded the prestigious Maison in 2008 and François is now the president of the company. The men’s shared passion for motorsport is an important part of the firm’s DNA.
Laurent’s love of sport led to the creation of a new limited-edition watch, the Grand Sport Tourbillon. While this latest model is contemporary, it does not eschew the Maison’s penchant for traditional craftsmanship and technical excellence.
A Grand Sport Design
The Grand Sport Tourbillon is housed in a 44mm stainless steel case and predominantly features circular satin-finished elements. The bezel is cushion-shaped but encompasses contrasting mirror-polished flanks. The middle of the case has a barrel-shaped outline, yet, consistent with other Laurent Ferrier timepieces, every constituent of the case coalesces harmoniously.
For the first time, the Maison has equipped a watch with an integrated stainless steel bracelet. The central row of the 3-rows design is comprised of vertical satin finished links. The rounded edges of the links are presented in a contrasting mirror-polish. These details imbue the bracelet and case ensemble with a sumptuous appearance.
The present-day styling encompasses an opaline dial which transitions from blue at its centre to black near its periphery. Both the hands and indexes feature orange Super-LumiNova, vitalising the overall composition. A snailed small seconds display resides above 6 o’clock and sits beneath a gently arcing tinted sapphire crystal, granting a rounded appearance when viewed from the side.
An Effective Calibre
In 2010, Laurent Ferrier won the ‘Best Men’s Watch Award’ at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix (GPHG) for its Classic Tourbillon. This watch was equipped with an ingenious hand-wound movement featuring a tourbillon and a double balance spring. The new Grand Sport Tourbillon is endowed with the same movement, albeit presented in a contemporary finish.
When Abraham-Louis Breguet patented the tourbillon in 1801, his invention countered the adverse influence of gravity on the regulating organ within a pocket watch whilst held in a vertical position. By equipping the balance with two reverse-fitted balance springs, the lateral displacement of the balance axis is also neutralised. The integration of both systems combines these respective benefits, conferring excellent precision. Indeed, this has been independently validated by the Besançon observatory, culminating in the award of chronometer certification.
A Keen Sense of Detail
The tourbillon, consistent with the discreet nature of the brand, is only visible via the sapphire case back, which, in turn, is secured with bolts akin to those used in motorsport. The movement features a long-blade-type ratchet pawl system, delivering a reassuring click as the watch is wound. Laurent Ferrier has embellished the movement with a horizontal satin-brushed finish and a ruthenium treatment, reinforcing the sporty character of the watch.
While the Grand Sport Tourbillon appears contemporary, it continues to uphold the traditions so dear to Laurent Ferrier. The tourbillon carriage bridge is painstakingly decorated by hand. Furthermore, the movement features mirror polishing and 30 handcrafted interior angles, details which are highly prized by aficionados.
Laurent Ferrier has never forgotten the importance of ‘feel’. When the legendary watchmaker was competing in his Porsche 935T, he would have felt the road through his fingertips and the seat of his racing overalls. His watches pay due consideration to the notion of tactility. This includes the feel of the crown when the watch is wound, the smooth unobtrusive crown guards sitting close to the wearer’s wrist and, most pertinently, the comfortable ergonomic relationship between the wearer and their Grand Sport Tourbillon.
Like all Laurent Ferrier creations, the Grand Sport Tourbillon, due to its protracted creation, will be very exclusive and, in this instance, will be limited to just 12 pieces.
Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece “Vintage”
Laurent Ferrier, a company synonymous with technical refinement and flawless finishing, unveils a new limited-edition, user-friendly annual calendar. Restricted to just 5 pieces and housed within a 40mm steel case, the watch is endowed with a contemporary vintage style dial.
A vintage inspiration
Inspired from rare vintage watches of the 1950’s and their matte champagne finished dials, Laurent Ferrier’s latest limited edition is endowed with a contemporary vintage style dial. Named vintage due to its inspiration, it is housed in a 40mm stainless steel case and features an opaline yellow gold toned dial.
The Genevan watchmaker has acquired much knowledge since his early studies in the 1960s. Throughout its history, Laurent Ferrier has enjoyed much critical acclaim. In 2010, the firm won the ‘Best Men’s Watch award’ at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix (GPHG). Thereafter, the company enjoyed further success at the GPHG in 2015 and 2018. The company’s vast experience is manifest with each creation it makes.
A useful complication
The classically-styled Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece “Vintage” was designed in-house and embodies an array of qualities which distinguish it as special. The prevailing time is conveyed with curvaceous ruthenium Assegai hands. A snailed small seconds display resides above 6 o’clock, tastefully imparting meaning. Two bevelled apertures, positioned in the upper portion of the dial, proclaim the day and month, while the date is indicated by a white hand circumnavigating the periphery of the dial. The dial displays much information yet remains uncluttered and free of distractions.
As its name suggests, this watch is endowed with an annual calendar. This complication recognises those months with 30 and 31 days, automatically advancing to the 1st of the month as appropriate. The only occasion necessitating manual adjustment is once per year on the 1st of March. A push piece on the left side of the case provides a simple means of adjusting the ‘day’ display. All other adjustments can be made easily by pulling the crown and rotating it accordingly, obviating the need for tools.
Laurent Ferrier’s “Montre Ecole” or School Piece case
The School Piece case pays due reverence to a time when watchmakers converted pocket watches into wrist worn timepieces. The company’s ‘ball-shaped’ crown proffers ease of manipulation and an abundance of eye appeal. The vertical flank of the crown features a domed circlet, a shape repeated on the sides of the graceful, arcing lugs.
The Calibre n°126.01 is at the heart of the “Geneva Edition”. This hand-wound movement, comprised of 235 components, incorporates a Swiss lever escapement and is capable of running autonomously for up to 80 hours. The variable inertia balance features screws affixed to the rim of the balance wheel, providing an effective means of altering the rate. It delivers superior performance when contrasted to a simple index-adjusted balance and is highly prized by purists. A power-reserve indicator is positioned on the movement, visible to the rear of the watch. The company’s iconic long ‘blade’ type click ratchet, much loved by the brand’s owners, is mirror polished with a ‘rounded-off’ finish and evinces a resplendent appearance.
Emphasis on the finishing
Laurent Ferrier is renowned for matchless finishing. Each bridge is adorned with pristine Côtes de Genève decoration and ruthenium treatment. The mainplate is embellished with perlage. The sides and interior angles are manually chamfered. All jewel sinks and screw heads are painstakingly polished to a gleaming conclusion. There are no concessions to haste, everything is refined to the highest order.
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece “Vintage” is presented on a honey alligator leather strap with co-ordinating Alcantara lining, providing a sumptuous means of uniting the watch with its fortunate wearer.
Each example of this watch showcases the incredible expertise and skills for which Laurent Ferrier is known. Indeed, this is an expertise that has been amassed over many years and demonstrates the virtue of wisdom, something the opaline yellow gold toned dial stylishly encapsulates.
The CEO of Laurent Ferrier, Vanessa Monestel, granted us an exclusive interview during the SIHH 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.
After graduating from the Toulouse Business School and Paris Dauphine University, where in 1996 she was awarded a pre-doctoral diploma in Marketing and Strategy, Vanessa Monestel began her professional career in consulting.
She spent ten years working with international clients in retail and consumer goods. In 2007–2008 she took an MBA at IMD Business School in Lausanne. Since then she has held a number of operational positions with independent haute horlogerie companies.
Vanessa Monestel joined Laurent Ferrier, the creative classic brand created in 2010 by the eponymous watchmaker, in August 2013. She was hired as development manager and was promoted to CEO a year later.
Interviewed by Alberic Virchaux