Laurent Ferrier (LF) is one of these niche high-horology brands that only folks deep into the hobby knows about. Creating less than 250 watches per year, wearing a Laurent Ferrier puts you in rare company; even while the design and feel of the watches will remind you of Patek Philippe and perhaps F.P. Journe.
The resemblance with Patek is not by accident as Mr. Ferrier spent his formative years as a watchmaker for the famed Genève-based brand. I had met Mr. Ferrier at our local authorized dealer, Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry a couple of years ago. I found him to be a sweet man who, at a later stage of life, had decided to pursue his true calling, create his magnum opus: his eponymous watch brand.
LF watches have a unique design ethos with curvy lines and a characteristic round or square case that is easily distinguishable. A difficult task when almost all watches also use the common geometrical shapes. The subtle details and design language of the dials is also what makes a Laurent Ferrier unique. Grounded in classical school, his watches feel like those you’d wear to an important event while also easily casually wear everyday.
At SIHH 2019 I had the privilege to meet with the folks from Laurent Ferrier watch brand to see and handle the novelties for 2019. Will my opinion change? Have they remained the same as when I met him two years ago? Are these still some of the best dress / casual classical watch in the business? Read on to find out my first impressions and feelings.
Galet Micro Rotor
First is the watch perhaps most associated with Laurent Ferrier: the Galet Micro Rotor Natural Escapement. Meaning pebble in French, on wrist the watch feels and looks like a small highly polished pebble beach rock, like the ones I would find walking the beaches in the Caribbean during my childhood. For 2019, LF released two dial colors for the Galet: white and black.
What makes these Galet watch a perfect example of high-end subtle and classic watchmaking is the restrained design, the classic shape, and the accompanying font and unique hands. Nothing is superfluous and everything is accounted for. The two dial colors are opaline white or opaline black, and they fit the overall mood for the watch.
The dimensions of the case are as classic as it gets at 40 mm wide and just above 10 mm thick. They come on honey alligator straps with alcantara inner lining. Included is the finely finished micro rotor movement FBN 229.01, offering 72 hours of power reserve. If you ever wanted a classical watch that fits all occasions while also is perfect for casual settings, look no further.
LF offers these in white gold, while the square case version (also in opaline white or opaline black) comes in stainless steel. A good metal to match the more sporty nature of the square model which will remind one (from the outside) of Panerai’s small Luminor Due line (without the crown protection device).
Galet Dual Time
The second watch from LF is an evolution of the basic Galet adding a dual time functionality. What makes the Galet Dual Time Natural Escapement worth your attention is the simplicity of how the second timezone is shown and how to operate it. A large aperture at 9 o’clock shows the second timezone. This is done like for pilot watches so even while the digital time is slowly moving the aperture is wide enough that you can still see the hour before and after.
Two simple pushers at 10 o’clock and 8 o’clock allow the wearer to move the time forward or backward. The simplicity of usage makes this one of the easiest dual time to operate. The mechanism is similar to the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time (ref. 5164) which also includes two pushers to move a second hour hand. To complete the balance of the dial, LF includes a date aperture at 3 o’clock.
Galet Annual Calendar
The other complicated watch Laurent Ferrier showed me is their Galet Annual Calendar Montre École. Again using the simple round dial this watch includes two apertures in the middle of the dial to show the month and day while a third hand shows the date pointing to the values around the dial. To facilitate reading the day markings are in blue font which helps make them standout from the rest of the dial. Like all annual calendar watches, this one will only require adjustment on March 1st each year, automatically accounting for the other months’ total days.
The final watch LF showed me is also my favorite. This is also a completely new model for 2019. The Bridge One is an evolution of the watch LF had created with Urwerk for Only Watch in 2018 but different in execution and intent. Instead of a revolving satellite movement à la Urwerk, this one is definitely LF with a simple two-hand execution showing just hour and minute for the white Grand Feu enamel dial, and including a seconds sub-dial for the slate grained slate grey dial version.
However, what really distinguishes the Bridge One watch is the shape of the stainless steel case. LF says this was inspired from a bridge in Geneva he could see from his childhood house. It definitely gives the shape of a bridge, but for me, the shape also reminds me of an old toy car. Knowing Mr. Ferrier’s history car racing I was surprised to learn that that was not his inspiration, but perhaps subliminally it was as well.
In any case to power this odd beautiful case, LF had to create a special curved caliber LF107.01 which is manual wound with 80 hours of power reserve. The round onion shaped crown make that process a joy for the owner. The second special component is the curved sapphire crystal which is rounded and completes the shape of the Bridge One which on wrist is unlike any other watch I have tried on. And the simplicity of the dial balances well the complex curved shape to make this a modern classic example from the brand.
Few watch manufactures have the talent and imagination to create classic modern watches. What I mean is watches that are rooted in the classic heritage of Swiss watchmaking while also looking to the future with imagination and design that can appeal to the modern customer while not being too futuristic.
Laurent Ferrier is one of the few brands threading this fine line and releasing watches that will satisfy the modern watch lover while rooting them in the past. For me the new Bridge One is the perfect example of this idea. A sexy curvy watch with a classic dial and movement that make you want to dress up to wear it. laurentferrier.ch