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Ferdinand Berthoud Showcases a Rare and Ancient Timekeeper at Watches and Wonders

The 1775 marine clock N° 14 from Ferdinand Berthoud on display

| By Xavier Markl | 2 min read |

Watches and Wonders Geneva 2022 will offer the opportunity to discover some of the latest creations from Ferdinand Berthoud Chronométrie, including the magnificent and recently launched Chronomètre FB RSM. If the brand will not unveil new models per se during the event, their booth will definitely be worth a visit as they will showcase a rare precision timekeeping object crafted some 250 years ago: a marine clock that enabled navigation on the high seas. The Ferdinand Berthoud Marine Clock N°14 is precisely the chronometer that inspired the display of the FB RSM. A perfect opportunity to see the two creations one next to the other.

Ferdinand Berthoud might be a relatively young brand, but it bears the illustrious name of one of the greatest chronometer makers of the 18th century. Born in Switzerland, Berthoud left an important imprint in the history of horology, specifically for his research, creations and development in the field of chronometry and his marine chronometers. At the time, determining longitude was one of the major scientific endeavours. A practical solution came from John Harrison, a carpenter and self-educated clockmaker, who spent decades perfecting accurate clocks. To know longitude at sea, you need to know precisely the time aboard ship and at your home port, to aid in converting the hour differences into geographical separation.

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Ferdinand Berthoud Chronometre FB RSM Deadbeat Seconds

Ferdinand Berthoud designed several systems intended to guarantee the highest precision of his Marine Clocks. This enabled him to lay the groundwork for the longitude calculations on which transoceanic navigation depended – and hence for the expansion of the great 18th century European powers including the Spanish Navy, which purchased this No. 14 clock as part of a global order for eight chronometers built by Ferdinand Berthoud and delivered between 1775 and 1776. Among other sophistications, it features a constant force mechanism, a pivoted detent escapement and a grid for thermal compensation.

Ferdinand Berthoud made only 21 weight-driven marine clocks during his lifetime. To date, 11 of them have been located in private collections or museums; the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in Paris alone has six examples. Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud is proud to announce that one of these 11 creations will be joining the L.U.CEUM collection in Fleurier. 400 hours of work were required for its complete restoration.

Quick facts: Ferdinand Berthoud Marine Clock N°14

52.5cm height x 18.5cm diameter- 15.8 kg in total including 1,260g for each of the two lead cylinders – pivoted detent escapement – 130 mm gilded brass balance-wheel, suspended from a thin metal blade, whose axis pivots between two sets of three runners (rollers) – 58.4 mm escape-wheel – 24 h Power reserve – +/- 1 sec. weekly precision. placed on a gimbal system serving to maintain it in the same position despite a ship’s rolling and pitching – 139 components

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