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Ferdinand Berthoud - A one-of-a-kind FB1 Chronometer

Ferdinand Berthoud A one-of-a-kind FB1 Chronometer

Ferdinand Berthoud presents a unique version of its FB1 Chronometer at the SIAR in Mexico.

The high-end watch exhibition held every year at the St. Regis Hotel in Mexico City is the perfect platform for launching unique pieces. The well-informed and demanding customers attending the show are always on the look-out for something different and Ferdinand Berthoud has something special for them this year in the form of a one-off version of its award-winning FB1 Chronometer. 

Chronomètre FB1, Edition Malaspina, dos

Chronomètre FB1 Malaspina Edition © Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud

The Ferdinand Berthoud FB1 Chronometer picked up the Aiguille d’Or, the most coveted prize in watchmaking, at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2016. Since then the watch has gone from strength to strength, with the collection now comprising five references, including a captivating movement architecture using sapphire crystal bridges. Having combined the traditional and modern in cases using both precious metals and ceramic inserts, this new unique piece uses a case made entirely out of 18-carat rose gold. To complement the warmth of this classical design, subtle blue accents have been added to the satin-brushed silver-toned brass dial. They are found on the galvanic blue subdial at 12 o’clock that displays the hours and minutes and a peripheral disc around the edge of the dial with the seconds scale (unusually for a tourbillon, the FB1 has a separate central seconds hand, in keeping with the tradition of marine chronometers, and the tourbillon carriage itself does not display the seconds).

Chronomètre FB1, Edition Malaspina, dos

© Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud

As the people at Ferdinand Berthoud continue to trawl through the huge legacy left by the prolific watchmaker, they are unearthing ever more interesting facts about him. As a result, this particular model can be tied conveniently to the exploits of Captain Alessandro Malaspina, an Italian who joined the Spanish Navy in 1774 at the age of 20. On his second round-the-world voyage, on which he set off in 1789 aboard the Descubierta, he took with him two Ferdinand Berthoud marine chronometers (numbers 10 and 13, which were part of a consignment of 11 Ferdinand Berthoud timepieces ordered by the Spanish government between 1774 and 1803). The fact that the movement of the FB1 Chronometer is so closely aligned with technical drawings supplied by Ferdinand Berthoud for these two marine chronometers (and unlike anything else currently available) is a great testament to the desire of Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, president of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, to reinterpret the Ferdinand Berthoud legacy in a modern way.

A one-of-a-kind FB1 Chronometer

Traité Des Horloges Marines, planche XX, Horloge marine

The Calibre FB-T.FC-2 movement inside this chronometer is built around a network of pillars, just as Ferdinand Berthoud’s marine chronometers were. The hand-wound movement features no fewer than 15 separate bridges in nickel silver. A further three “half-bridges” complete the movement, all held in place by polished titanium pillars. The sapphire bridges are particularly noteworthy, since they have polished and bevelled edges that are fiendishly difficult to create. Similar attention to detail is paid to the tourbillon, whose blue-steel bridge has a mirror-polished upper surface, straight-grained flanks and polished bevels. All levels of the titanium tourbillon carriages are bevelled and polished. The movement is also fitted with a fusee and chain mechanism to ensure a constant force. The chain itself is 285 mm long and consists of 790 individual steel components, each of which is finished by hand. The edges and studs are satin brushed and the flat surfaces are polished. Four “portholes” in the side of the gold case offer additional ways of admiring the impressive attention to detail lavished on this movement.

Un chronomètre FB1 unique en son genre

Calibre FB-T.FC-2 © Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud

The price of perfection? In this case it’s 225,000 Swiss francs, which is a relatively modest premium over other models in the collection, given this watch’s unique credentials.

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