The brand that bears the name of an illustrious 18th-century horologist was only resurrected a few years ago. Since 2015, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud handcrafts refined, ultra-sophisticated wristwatches that have earned the brand high esteem from aficionados, and several industry accolades including the Aiguille d’Or at the GPHG 2016. In line with its ultra-exclusive production (a few dozen watches per year), Ferdinand Berthoud is going one step further. As of now, it will communicate the total number of units produced for each in-house movement, leaving the choice of the case design to the client. The first movement to be offered following this principle is the skeletonised tourbillon fusée-and-chain, with the new Régulateur Squelette FB RS.
Until 2020, we had been accustomed to seeing Berthoud wristwatches presented in a distinctive octagonal case that was inspired by the 18th-century watchmaker’s marine chronometers. Last year, Ferdinand Berthoud introduced its first round case with the exquisite Chronomètre FB 2RE with fusée-and-chain and remontoir d’égalité.
As of now, and in line with their exclusive positioning (producing a few dozen handcrafted watches every year retailing at over CHF 200,000), Ferdinand Berthoud will communicate the total number of units produced for each in-house movement, leaving the choice of the case design to the client. The first creation to adopt this strategy is the Régulateur Squelette FB RS, a new model powered by the calibre FB-T.FC-RS whose production will be strictly limited to 20 units. Therefore, two variations will be available: the FB 2RS.2 with a round case in 18-carat ethical pink gold and the FB 1RS.6 with an octagonal case in carburised stainless steel (the watch we had for this hands-on session). It is not the first time Ferdinand Berthoud uses carburised steel. With its reinforced molecular structure, the grey surface of carburised steel (1200 Vickers) is extremely resistant to scratches and corrosion.
Based on the brand’s regulator display, the FB-T.FC-RS calibre is the first entirely openworked movement of the manufacture. This regulator-type chronometer movement is regulated by a tourbillon driven by a fusée-and-chain transmission. At 2 o’clock, a sapphire disc displays the hours, while minutes are displayed on the dial offset to 12 o’clock. The seconds are indicated on a flat sapphire inner bezel ring framing the dial. The main novelty lies in the large opening at 6 o’clock revealing the spectacular one-minute tourbillon that was previously visible on the back of the watch.
Flip the watch over and the exhibition caseback offers an unimpeded view of the other side of the superbly crafted calibre FB-T.FC-RS. The construction is familiar with a pillar-type architecture. The barrel is fitted with a fusée-and-chain constant force mechanism with a Maltese cross stopwork. The power reserve indicator is driven by a suspended truncated cone moving up and down along an arbour connected to the barrel. A feeler spindle tipped with a ruby roller reflects the barrel’s state of wind thanks to its position on the cone.
The calibre FB-T.FC-RS comprises over 1,500 components including the chain. It operates at 21,600 vibrations/hour and its power reserve is of 53 hours when fully wound. Like all Ferdinand Berthoud movements, it is chronometer-certified by COSC and it was submitted to the Fleuritest during its development phase.
As you have come to expect from Ferdinand Berthoud, the finishing is spectacular. All components are decorated with meticulous attention. The overall look is quite technical as many components feature black PVD coating, alternating with polished, matte, vertical satin-brushed and sandblasted finishes.
Availability & Price
The Ferdinand Berthoud Régulateur Squelette FB RS is worn on a hand-sewn alligator leather strap with an alligator lining. It is fitted with a gold or titanium/carburised steel double-blade length-adjustable folding clasp. As mentioned, the movement will be a production of 20 pieces only with a choice of a round or an octagonal case. Price is set at CHF 235,000 for the carburised steel version and CHF 244,000 for the pink gold version.
More details at www.ferdinandberthoud.ch.