Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1.4 : Light and airy with titanium and sapphire
Just over a month after presenting the FB 1.3 in platinum and ceramic, Ferdinand Berthoud presents the FB 1.4 in full titanium.
It was logical that the new FB 1.4, which was developed as a direct result of feedback received at last year’s Dubai Watch Week for the award-winning chronometer, should be presented at this year’s Dubai Watch Week. For the first time, the case is made entirely out of the same material – titanium. But to keep the harmony of contrasting colours seen in the predecessors, Ferdinand Berthoud has opted to use two of the seven different grades of titanium on the case: Grade 5 for the case and Grade 2 for the lugs.
The new case, however, is just one of several important new aspects of this watch. The portholes on the side of the case which offered a view into the movement have been removed to focus attention on the upper and lower sides of the case, where sapphire crystal bridges now allow you to plunge into the movement and discover details that were previously hidden from view, such as the mobile cone used to indicate the power reserve. In keeping with the high level of hand finishing in the movement, the sapphire bridges are hand bevelled, which is no easy task and the poor craftsman at Ferdinand Berthoud often have to throw away countless examples before they can perfect a full set of the three bridges required for each movement. And this is just one part of the hand finishing on the movement, which takes a total of 140-160 hours for each watch.
Sapphire bridge © Ferdinand Berthoud
Although the use of titanium lowers the price of the FB 1.4. slightly, to 190,000 francs, collectors should not rejoice too early, since from the new FB 1.4 onwards, Ferdinand Berthoud is reducing its limited edition runs to just 20 pieces, in commemoration of the 20 marine chronometers that the French navy ordered from Ferdinand Berthoud, which essentially funded his further research and work. The good news, however, is that there are two different versions of the FB 1.4 available, one with a sandblasted black dial treated with a black lacquer and another with a satin-finished silver toned dial.
The FB 1.4 is available with a black or silver dial © Ferdinand Berthoud
Aficionados will note the elongated seconds hand in coated bronze, which rightly takes pride of place at the centre of the dial as it would in a marine chronometer. Ferdinand Berthoud has a patent for the direct drive seconds from the tourbillon escapement. One detail that cannot be explained either by words or pictures is the satisfying feeling of winding the watch using the large crown coupled with Ferdinand Berthoud’s patented differential winding technology. The feeling alone is unlike winding any other watch, but the wonderful resonance generated by the titanium case when winding the watch will get you addicted to winding it. Luckily, the engineers at Ferdinand Berthoud have also added a dynamometric function to the winding mechanism, so that your fun can never be spoiled by overwinding the watch.
The arrow-shaped, blued stainless steel tourbillon bridge © Ferdinand Berthoud
Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud offers a contemporary take on the work of a master watchmaker. Its exclusive timepieces, developed by today’s master watchmakers, are a tribute to the excellence of yesteryear.Find out more >
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