In a radical departure from the smooth, pebble-shaped cases we associate with Laurent Ferrier, the Bridge One embraces a new geometry marked by flowing rectangular lines with rounded edges and a strong Art Deco vibe. The movement, shaped to match the case, is also new and fitted with a traditional Swiss lever escapement as opposed to the natural escapement featured on most of LF watches. Unveiled during the SIHH 2019, we were able to spend some time with the novel Bridge One.
Sources of Inspiration
The more you look at the elegant flowing lines of the case, the more complexity you start to detect and the more sources of inspiration you start to spot; which is hardly surprising given the long and distinguished career of master watchmaker Laurent Ferrier.
Ostensibly, a wrought-iron bridge that Ferrier could see from his bedroom window as a child inspired the case. The Passerelle de l’Ile in Geneva was completed in 1876 and designed as a pedestrian bridge to cross the fast-flowing waters of the River Rhone. Still in use today, the landmark bridge is technically a ‘pony truss’ with its latticework of triangular structures. As you can see, the long curving lugs and cambered case effectively emulate the arched profile of the bridge and the choice of stainless steel for the case echoes the industrial nature of the truss bridge.
However, many of you will spot an even more direct association with the Arpal One, a joint artistic adventure between Laurent Ferrier and Urwerk for Only Watch 2017 – which gave birth to the 5-piece Laurent Ferrier x Urwerk LF-UR-2-Titanium. The fluid lines and streamlined bodywork of Arpal One clearly referenced Ferrier’s other passion for racing cars. As many of you know, one of the conditions for Ferrier to return to Patek Philippe in 1974 was to allow him time at the weekends to indulge his passion for racing. In fact, Ferrier came in third at the Le Mans 1979 on board a Porsche 935 Turbo, just behind Paul Newman.
Now that we have mentioned Patek Philippe – where Ferrier worked for 35 years before going solo – you can also spot nuances from the shaped dress watches that emerged from Patek’s (and Vacheron Constantin’s) workbenches inspired by the clean sweeping lines of Art Deco, including the Gondolo. Don’t miss Xavier’s in-depth report of shaped watches by Vacheron and Patek.
Spanning the wrist
The dimensions of the stainless steel case – 30mm wide x 44mm long, with a thickness of 14.58mm – wear large and contribute to the commanding presence of this watch. Although I fell in love with the aesthetics of the watch immediately, it was definitely too big for my wrist. The protruding lugs and the elongated case reserve this watch to men. However, the pronounced cambering of the case and lugs allows the watch to sit flush against your skin.
As with all Laurent Ferrier watches, the finishes are impeccable and the case of the Bridge One gleams in the light with its finely polished concave and convex surfaces. A case that belies its complexity at first glance, details like the slight tapering occurring midway on the flared lugs or the fluted finish of the crown reveal a sensual tactility that is a common denominator of all Laurent Ferrier’s watches.
A spherical sapphire crystal with elegant bevelled edges protects the dial that is available in two finishes: one in Grand Feu white enamel and the second in a slate-grey colour – the latter also adds a small seconds counter to the display. For an extra shot of vintage, the sapphire glass has been tinted. The long, thin hour markers and two Roman numerals (XII and VI) fit the retro mood of the case perfectly as do the hallmark blackened “Assegai-hands” crafted in white gold.
Although I was initially put off by the minute track, I can see how it echoes the industrial architecture of the Geneva bridge that inspired the watch. For our hands-on review, we wanted to highlight this enamelled version for three reasons. First, it is easier to read and has fewer reflections than the slate grey model. Second, it feels even more in line with the vintage feel of this watch. Finally, who can resist the beauty of a grand feu enamel dial?
By turning over the case, you can get a real feel for the underlying architecture of the watch. You can really see the curvature of the lugs in action and the beautifully rounded edges. Cradled between the arching lugs is the back of the case and once again, you can see the slightly indented waistline in the middle and the bevelled contours. The small lip at the bottom of the caseback is to access the movement.
The specific geometry of the Bridge One required a rectangular-shaped movement. Rather than building a movement from scratch, Laurent Ferrier adapted its existing annual calendar movement and reshaped it to fit the case – basically, same barrel, same gear train, same escapement, without the calendar module on top and with different bridges. The proprietary manual-winding LF107.01 calibre features a Swiss lever escapement, beats at 3Hz and has a comfortable power reserve of 80 hours.
The shape of the bridges has also been changed to reflect the rectangular case and are ruthenium plated and decorated with thick, vertical Geneva stripes. The mainplate features circular graining, the interior angles are manually chamfered and the screw heads are polished.
Both the white dial and slate-grey dial models come on either a honey-coloured alligator leather strap with white stitching or a honey Timberland leather strap with the choice of a pin buckle or folding clasp. The present white enamel model in stainless steel retails for EUR 37,000. More details on www.laurentferrier.ch.