Right after SIHH 2017, I spent a few hours writing what I can call a “love letter“. This letter was addressed to a man (and his team of course) for whom I have a lot of respect and affection, Mister Laurent Ferrier. The subject of this letter was his latest creation, the Galet Micro-Rotor “Montre Ecole”. Yes, no need to say more, I loved this watch. Based on the same superb case and movement, the brand now introduces a new complication, classic and historically relevant (of course) in the form of the Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur.
What is a régulateur?
(Or regulator in English) The main fact to consider here is the dissociation of the indications. While in watchmaking, it feels common to have the seconds hand on a separate sub-dial, the hours and minutes hands are, in the vast majority of the watches, affixed to the same (usually central) axis. This layout has become the norm and the natural way to read time (and deviating from it might seem confusing at first). A regulator watch though splits the indications by having the hours and minutes dissociated, with the minutes being the star of the show, as indicated on the central axis, and the hours relegated to a smaller sub-dial – thus becoming a secondary indication.
Now comes the question: why? Why such a display? First of all, we usually have a clear idea of the hour in our minds and what we are looking for on a watch are mainly the minutes. So, believe me, a regulator watch is not that disturbing. To answer the question why, the answer is simple: precision and adjustment. Back in the old days, regulation was done manually and the reference time was not given by an atomic clock or a battery driven clock. Thus, to simplify watchmakers’ lives, workshops were usually equipped with a large wall clock with a regulator display, in order to have a clear and instant view of the main indication: the minutes. These wall clocks were the references for adjustment. Later, the regulator was implemented into watches (wrist and pocket-watches), however, they always remained quite confidential and were seen as watchmaker’s watches (or at least as horology nuts watches)… which fits quite well with the concept behind Laurent Ferrier.
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur
Now that the idea behind the regulator watch has been explained, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this new Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur. it is a perfect application of the concept. Display-wise, the deal is simple: minutes on the central axis, small second placed classically at 6 (as with all Laurent Ferrier watches with the Micro-Rotor movement) and, the main update, the hours displayed on a sub-dial at 12. In short, a classical display for a regulator watch, however one that is perfectly balanced and highly legible.
As usual with the manufacture, the dial of this Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur is extremely clean and refined: thin, perfectly polished and extremely elegant “assegai-shaped” hand for the minute, leaf hand for the hours, baton hand for the seconds, few inscriptions on the dial, yet with a bit of color (blue for the name of the watch and the Arabic numerals at 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes) and a clear, perfectly legible “railway track” ring for the minutes. Once again, the focus on such a watch is the indication of the minutes and here, it is easily legible. Yet, the other indications remain easy to catch, especially the hours that are shown on a rather large sub-dial, which occupies almost all the available space of the upper half of the dial. Furthermore, the uncluttered design helps time-reading.
For this new Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur, the brand decided to use the praised “Montre Ecole” case and overall design – which is not to disappoint us. This 40mm case introduced a new shape, less pebble-like than a normal Galet Micro-Rotor. A perfectly round 3-piece case – a case that is named bassiné by the brand – on which straight and thin lugs are attached, with a cabochon on the side. Very classical, yet surprisingly elegant and modern… For the Galet Regulateur, two options will be available: 18k white gold (showed here) and stainless steel. This case is stepped and shows nice details, such as thin brushed ring on the caseband, enlightening a clean shape. It measures 10.95mm in height.
Inside the case of the Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur is a well-known movement, which of course has been modified for the occasion (the regulator is not an added module but it is directly integrated into the movement). The movement is the FBN Calibre 228.01, with automatic winding courtesy of a pawl-fitted micro-rotor, delivering a 72-hour power reserve. It features a silicon escapement with double direct impulse on the balance and, as expected, a stunning level of decoration: large hand-polished bevels, thin and hand-made Geneva stripes, mirror polished steel parts, engraved micro-rotor… Plus the small details that change it all, such as the internal angles, chamfered wheel-spokes or chamfered screw-heads.
The base movement, as seen on the Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor “Montre Ecole”
This new Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur feels like a natural evolution of the collection, with a focus on watchmaking history and on precision via the display. It will be available from retailers as of July 2017, and priced at CHF 37,000 for the steel version and CHF 47,000 for the 18K white gold version (CHF 2,000 more than the Montre Ecole). More details on laurentferrier.ch.
Technical Specifications – Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur
- Case: 40mm diameter x 10.95mm thick – bassiné case in steel or 18k white gold – sapphire crystal on both sides – 30m water resistant
- Movement: FBN Calibre 228.01, in-house – automatic winding via micro-rotor – 21,600vph frequency – 72-hour power reserve – silicon escapement with double direct impulse on the balance – hours, minutes via regulator and small second
- Dial: Silver toned, vertical satin-brushed finish, Hour and Seconds counters recessed with a nickel snailed finish, hands in 18k white gold
- Strap: Grey alligator leather, hand-sewn – pin buckle matching the case material
- Reference: LCF026.AC/G
- Price: CHF 37,000 in steel / CHF 47,000 in18K white gold
- Availability: July 2017