If you have been following the watchmaking scene over the past few years, you will be familiar with the rebirth of Ferdinand Berthoud. Resurrecting the name of one of the greatest watchmakers, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele and his team have shown quite an ability to surprise and amaze us with each of their creations.
The brand’s first modern opus, the Chronomètre FB1 was awarded the Aiguille d’Or at the GPHG 2016, the Oscars of watchmaking. The model was originally presented in white gold with titanium lugs (FB1.1) and pink gold and ceramic lugs (FB1.2). Unveiled on the occasion of SIHH 2019, the ‘Oeuvre d’Or’ collection consists of pink or white gold (diamond-set for the first time) limited editions displaying exclusive hand-applied decoration.
The pyramid engraving adorning the movement of these limited edition watches is inspired by Ferdinand Berthoud’s astronomical pocket watch No. 3, a timepiece assembled and adjusted in Paris in 1806 by his student, Jean Martin. (This pocket watch is now part of the L.U.CEUM collection put together by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele in Fleurier). The pyramid decoration is applied to the gold bridges and is engraved entirely by hand. An invisibly-screwed cartouche bears the indication “Ferdinand Berthoud, Chronomètre Suisse 45 rubis“. The exhibition caseback offers an unimpeded view of the movement that is crafted and finished to a level that is seldom seen. The result is distinctive and mesmerizing to behold.
Turning the watch over, the hand-engraved patinated gold dial is no less spectacular. Each dial is meticulously hand-grained with a graver and then finished with a rocker to create shimmering reflections. The anglage of the chamfers framing the openings cut into the dial are bevelled to perfection. The caption ‘haut / bas’ (up/down) for the power reserve and ‘Ferdinand Berthoud, Chronomètre, Val-de-Travers (the valley where the brand’s workshop is based), Suisse’ is followed by the individual limited edition number.
A detail that is also inspired by the Ferdinand Berthoud’s astronomical pocket watch No. 3, the hands of the pink gold version are blued gold for the hours, the minutes and the power reserve indication, and, blued bronze for the sweep seconds hand. For the white gold limited edition, these are black nickel-plated gold and bronze.
As with previous versions of the Chronomètre FB1, the octagonal case measures 44mm x 13mm and is inspired by Ferdinand Berthoud’s marine clocks. For the first time, the pink gold case is made exclusively in this metal without any inter-lug insert in a different material. The white gold version is gem-set, with baguette-diamonds adorning the crown and case flanks, instead of the portholes used for previous versions.
Inside, the magnificent calibre FB-T.FC3 features a pillar construction, the classic architecture employed in marine chronometers. All parts are fitted in between two plates secured together with pillars, instead of having a plate and bridges screwed tightly together. For enhanced precision, it is regulated by an oversized tourbillon driven by a suspended fusée-and-chain mechanism. The latter serves to deliver constant force to the escapement throughout the running time of the movement. The power reserve indicator is based on a ruby-roller resting on a mobile moving up and down, to display an accurate measurement. The barrel is fitted with a Maltese cross stop-work to prevent overwinding. From a technical perspective, the calibre FB-T.FC3 comprises no fewer than 1,119 parts. It runs at 21,600 vibrations per hour with a 53-hour power reserve. The precision of each movement is certified by the COSC.
The Ferdinand Berthoud ‘Oeuvre d’Or’ collection consists of two limited and numbered editions of five watches. Price is set at CHF 282,500 for the white gold diamond-set version and CHF 258,000 for the pink gold version. More details on www.ferdinandberthoud.ch.