Hands-On – The New Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB1.4, In Titanium and with Sapphire Bridges on the Movement
Ferdinand Berthoud strips down its spectacular Chronomètre FB1. After the recently introduced platinum edition, it’s now the movement that evolves. Indeed, sapphire bridges now offer an unimpeded view on its killer inner workings, and this mechanical beauty is now housed in a titanium case (with 2 different dials available). Meet the Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB1.4, available in two different versions, which shows quite some evolutions compared to the previous models of the brand.
After a long incubation period, Chopard’s Karl Frederich Schefeule revived Berthoud, one of the greatest horologists of all times, with the unveiling of the FB1 chronometer, a modern, personal take on this unique heritage (read our previous reviews about the FB1.1/2 and FB1.3). A tribute to chronometry, this elaborate creation features several mechanisms to optimize precision. It received numerous industry accolades, including being awarded the Aiguille d’Or at GPHG 2016 (the “Oscars of Watchmaking”). But this prestigious award is not the end of the road – far from it.
Heart laid bare – The first versions of the model offer a lot to see with its suspended fusée and chain paired with a stop-work mechanism, its oversized tourbillon and lateral portholes allowing you to see into the movement even more. The technically complex FB1 still had some secrets waiting to be revealed, and in doing so the FB1.4 adds modern details to the aesthetics and technical characteristics of the prevailing versions.
”Light is the material par excellence” for Le Corbusier, the master of modern architecture. Ferdinand Berthoud’s latest opus seems to have been designed around this principle. With the FB1.4, the sapphire bridges offer an unobstructed view on the striking architecture of the movement, the play of light and shadow is the key to its magnificence.
One of the three sapphire bridges with its blued engravings
Its pillar-type construction and over 1000-part intricate design are now fully exposed, under sapphire bridges, further highlighting the superb play of symmetry between the barrel, the fusée and the tourbillon. A nod to the marine chronometers built by Berthoud in the past, its rhodium-plated bridges are secured to the main-plate with titanium pillars, instead of having the plate and bridges screwed tightly together with hollows to support the mechanical elements. This temple-like design now feels, at the same time; almost sacred, traditional yet radically modern.
The mobile cone which indicates the power reserve, the fusée-and-chain, the tourbillon and other highlights of the movement are now exposed in a novel, spectacular perspective. The exceptional finish of the calibre is presented in a new light. The meticulous hand decoration of all parts requires weeks of work. The fact that the brand’s craftsmen check their work under a x6 magnifying lens tells a lot about the ambitious standards at Ferdinand Berthoud. The result is truly spectacular.
The use of sapphire bridges adds extra difficulty, as crafting sapphire parts to the exacting tolerances of watch movement design requires precise engineering and manufacturing. Their manipulation is even more delicate as any flaw, stain or dust would be revealed through this transparent frame. The thin, arrow-shaped bridge holding the tourbillon in place now comes in blue which is a nice touch.
Another novelty, the watch case is fashioned out of light-weight, hardwearing titanium, making it comfortable to wear (the sapphire bridges are also much lighter). Its elaborate design is inspired by marine chronometers and gimbal suspension, with lateral elements (grade 2 titanium lugs) hugging a central cylindrical grade 5 titanium container. This titanium version no longer features side windows. Although delicate to achieve with titanium, the case’s satin/polished finish is top-notch.
The dial is presented in either vertical satin-brushed silver-toned brass or black galvanized frosted brass. It is crafted with perfection – not that you would expect anything else from Ferdinand Berthoud. The hours and minutes tick by the off-centered sub-dial at 12, allowing for a highly legible centre seconds indication. The hands and screws are presented in either silver colour (black dial) or blue (silver dial) for enhanced contrast. In the centre, the large opening reveals the second’s wheel and the driving wheel of the tourbillon carriage.
The Ferdinand Berthoud FB1 is worn on a superb alligator leather strap, hand-sewn, with alligator lining and rolled edges. It is secured with a titanium safety folding clasp with a comfort-enhancing extension system. It is released in 2 limited editions of 20 pieces each, a symbolic number as Ferdinand Berthoud was commissioned with the production of 20 marine chronometers for the French Royal Navy in 1770.
The Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB1.4, with titanium case and sapphire bridges, is priced at CHF 198,000 – EUR 205,210 – USD 207,900 – GBP 170,230 (Which is basically 50k less than the platinum version). More details on www.ferdinandberthoud.ch.
Technical specifications Ferdinand Berthoud FB1.4
- Case: 44 mm x 13 mm – titanium case – sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating – sapphire case back with anti-reflective coating – water resistant to 30m.
- Movement: calibre FB-T.FC2 mechanical with manual winding – 35.50 mm x 7.96 mm – 53h power reserve – 21’600 vibrations/h – 46 jewels – hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve indication – one-minute tourbillon, Fusée-and-chain. Chronometer certified.
- Strap: alligator leather strap with security folding clasp.
- Price: CHF 198,000 – EUR 205,210 – USD 207,900 – GBP 170,230
- Limited Edition of 2 times 20 pieces
Sapphire bridges really make sense in such sophisticated movement.
@Chia-Ming absolutely, it puts the movement in a completely different perspective!
@xavier I wonder how do the owners of previous versions feel about this modification?
@Chia-Ming well both are nice. The sapphire movement is stunning indeed, but I must confess I have a weakness for maillechort too. Very warm and deep metal. And all 4 versions are different. The titanium is super light, super comfortable and comes this killer movement. But the shine and weight of the platinum is unique.
@xavier I agree german silver has a charming character. Maybe the visibility of the movement doesn’t differ a lot because of the sapphire windows of the case.
a watch for clueless pompous narcissists
Says the bitter prol.
The price is eyewatering. The design is incredible. Love this thing. Need a poster, stat!