Laurent Ferrier is first and foremost a watch passionate and watch designer (he has spent 37 years at Patek Philippe, ending his career as creative director). He’s not one to show off or boast about his achievements, preferring instead to let his exceptional work speak for itself. Even then, he likes to keep things understated, at least on the dial side, ensuring the focus remains primarily on functionality and practicality (although the watches are gorgeous to look at too.) This year, however, he has finally bowed to the wishes of some of his passionate collectors and, for the first time ever, created a watch where the tourbillon is visible from the dial side – stocking for some, desired by others… Today, we’re going hands on with this beauty, which still features all the technical hallmarks of a wonderfully elegant Laurent Ferrier timepiece.
The role of a tourbillon, first and foremost, was at first to improve timekeeping accuracy by attempting to counter the effects of gravity on the regulating organ of pocket watches – nowadays, with our modern wristwatches, the tourbillon is more of a technical beauty and an ode to the past. To this end, it is comprised of a mobile carriage, rotating on 360 degrees (most often once per minute), which houses the balance, balance-spring and escapement, with the goal of averaging out positional errors. Its job is a technical one and that’s why in most vintage watches the tourbillon is hidden away, along with the rest of the “engine” of the watch. Exposed tourbillons are more of a recent phenomenon, but one which has quickly gained in popularity over the last few decades. Yet, manufactures like Patek Philippe or Laurent Ferrier (see the lineage here…) have always placed the tourbillon on the movement side, with no opening to reveal its mechanical complexity on the dial side. But things change.
The reasons for this are obvious; aesthetically tourbillons are very attractive to look at, mesmerising even, and you don’t need to be a hardcore collector to appreciate their apparent complexity (even if just at a superficial level, i.e. you know it looks cool but you have no idea what it does or how it works.) At the same time, the tourbillon offers a lot of scope for accomplished watchmakers to demonstrate their skill, both in terms of technical design and execution as well as decoration and finishing. Laurent Ferrier and his Galet Classic Tourbillon Open Dial fit decidedly into this latter category, and by that, it shows a strong evolution of the brand’s habits.
Before we go too far into the technical details however, let’s just take a step back and appreciate the simple beauty of this timepiece. Elegant, refined, it has a slightly vintage feel to it that doesn’t seem contrived in any way. Presented in a three-part, white gold case measuring 41mm x 12.70mm, it makes its presence felt comfortably on the wrist. The circular, satin-brushed sector ring subtly marks out the hours, complete with the Roman numeral ‘XII’ in a raised, powdered, silver-toned grey transfer and makes the watch feel like it belongs in another era (Laurent Ferrier is passionate with 1930s / 1940s watches, and these have always been a great inspiration for him). The silver-toned, vertical satin-brushed finish in the center contrasts nicely against the slate grey of the sector dial, and this is only further accentuated by the railway minutes track painted around the periphery of the dial. An excellent example of less is more. Ultra-sharp and perfectly polished Assegai-shaped white gold hands with a black ruthenium treatment are responsible for indicating the time.
The main attraction, however, is of course the exposed tourbillon at six o’clock. It was critical to Laurent Ferrier that the tourbillon remained in the same position on the movement as in previous models to keep the elegance of his original design intact. This meant he needed to create a space to unveil the tourbillon cage from the dial-side. Achieving this required a specifically-developed bridge with two arms supporting the regulating organ. The design in and of itself makes a visual statement, drawing the eye into the heart of tourbillon. Its unusual shape makes it extremely difficult to finish but Laurent Ferrier is not one know for cutting corners and so, this tiny component features vertical satin-brushing, shot-blasting and hand-polishing of the sink and angles. Such is its beauty that it deserves almost as much of your close-up attention as the tourbillon itself. Almost.
The tourbillon is nothing short of spectacular. To give some perspective here, it’s important to note that in a normal Galet Classic – where the tourbillon is only partially visible from the movement side – the finishing on the tourbillon cage takes up to fifteen hours just for the bottom cage bridge because of the seventeen interior angles. As this new version allows you to see (almost) everything from the front and the back, the interior angles are decorated on both sides, showcasing painstaking attention to detail. The cage, too, is extremely light and thin, allowing for greater transparency of the technicality and the high standard of decoration of the tourbillon.
Hand-wound and chronometer certified (by the Besançon observatory), the LF Calibre 619.03 beats at a slightly faster 21,600vph / 3Hz frequency (tourbillon are usually beating at 18,000vph / 2.5Hz), so you can really enjoy the intoxicating ballet of the tourbillon. Comprised of 187 parts, it offers a healthy power reserve of 80 hours. All the classical technical features of the other tourbillon watches by LF are still present, like the two top-to-tail balance springs and variable-geometry balance with gold adjustment screws. Completing the elegant, understated style is a blue alligator leather strap with Alcantara lining. This is secured by a pin buckle or a double-blade folding clasp in 18K white gold and really works well with the monochromatic dial.
Overall the Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Dual Tourbillon Double Spiral Open Dial is an exceptionally elegant, understated timepiece with a refined beauty and complexity that will truly be appreciated by the brand’s passionate collectors. More details on laurentferrier.ch.
Technical Specifications – Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon Dual with Open Dial
- Case: 41mm diameter x 12.70mm thick – 18k white gold – sapphire crystal on both sides – 30m water resistant
- Movement: LF Calibre 619.03, in-house – manual-wind – 21,600vph frequency – 80-hour power reserve – tourbillon carriage visible through the dial and case-back – hours and minutes.
- Dial: Circular satin-brushed chapter ring, silver-toned vertical satin-brushed finish in
- the center, railway minutes track painted in slate grey, Roman ‘XII’ in a raised, powdered silver-toned grey transfer, Assegai-shaped hands in 18K white gold with black ruthenium treatment
- Strap: blue alligator leather strap with Alcantara lining – pin buckle or a double-blade folding clasp in 18K white gold.
- Reference: LCF020.G1.GG1.1/2
- Price: EUR 169,800