For the SIHH 2018, Ferdinand Berthoud, the high-end brainchild of Karl Friedrich Scheufele (co-CEO of Chopard), enriches its growing collection with a surprising watch, a true connoisseur’s piece with a strong focus on chronometry. Its original regulator-type display and its ultra-resistant carburised stainless steel case are new, yet its tourbillon/fusée-chain movement is the same marvel we knew already.
Like the previous editions of the Chronomètre FB 1, on which this new Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1R.6-1 is based, this watch is an ode to the past and to the glorious watchmaker Berthoud. This watch is equipped with several complications inspired by scientific instruments and marine chronometers. All of them have the same goal: improving precision. And while this was already visible on the previous watches introduced by the brand, the new one makes a statement in terms of display too.
The Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1R.6-1 does away with the tourbillon opening on the dial side (even if the tourbillon is still present on the movement side) and opts for an extremely simplified dial. The main focus here is on the second’s hand, while the hours and minutes are split – yet far from being classically displayed too. The large central hand shows the seconds and is directly linked to the tourbillon that whirs beneath the dial. At 12 is the sub-dial for the minutes and at 2 is a surprising arched opening that shows wandering hours (on a glare-proofed sapphire crystal disc featuring transferred Arabic numerals, striking a pleasing contrast against the white background).
The dial, made of nickel silver, vertically satin-brushed by hand and black rhodium-plated, is a unique type of regulator where all the indications are split to bring the best possible view. The fourth indication to be displayed on this dial is the power reserve – but here again, nothing simple in the way it works. A patent has been filed for this sophisticated power-reserve indication. “Visible through a cut-out in the half-bridge on the case-back side, a truncated cone moves up and down along an arbour connected to the barrel. This suspended cone is topped by a feeler spindle in the form of a mobile arm tipped with a watch jewel. The latter’s position on the cone reflects the barrel’s state of wind. The feeler spindle in turn transmits the quantity of energy accumulated by the mainspring to a set of finely chamfered and rhodium-plated flat levers visible through a cut-out in the regulator plate. Its role is to amplify the displacement of the power-reserve hand. A spiral spring placed at the far end of its travel exercises a force on the base of the power-reserve hand. This spring serves to compensate for the play between the various components of this mechanism and to display the power reserve with peerless precision.”
The new Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1R.6-1 also features an innovative case. Still a 44 mm-diameter watch measuring less than 14 mm-thick, still the same overall design with round central container and octagonal-shaped case-bands, the material used here is new: an ultra-resistant carburised stainless steel. The molecular structure of this steel has been reinforced by a thermo-chemical process involving the diffusion of vapour-phase carbon, thereby guaranteeing an exceptional surface hardness of 1200 Vickers and making it extremely robust. It is also extremely corrosion-resistant and biocompatible. The case features two octagonal-shaped stainless steel side pieces, with two lateral portholes at 2 and 11 providing views of the chain-and-fusee mechanism in action.
Inside the new Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1R.6-1 is the well-known and superb movement seen in previous editions of the FB 1. Comprising a constant-force fusée-and-chain device as well as a one-minute tourbillon, this movement is state of the art Haute-Horlogerie, also in terms of finishing. All the parts, including the German silver bridges and plates, are meticulously decorated by hand. You can read more about this movement in our in-depth story about the FB 1 here.
Like all watches made by Ferdinand Berthoud, this new edition in hardened steel and with unique regulator display will be limited in production, with only 20 pieces produced for this example. We’ll return to this watch after the SIHH with our hands-on thoughts. More details on www.ferdinandberthoud.ch.