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Ferdinand Berthoud - 20 skeletons – no more and no less

Ferdinand Berthoud 20 skeletons – no more and no less

A new watch, with a new movement, in a limited run of just 20, in a case of your choice. It’s not a revolution for Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud... but it’s not far off!

What is the real news here? The things we can see, or the things we can’t? Probably a bit of both. Today, Ferdinand Berthoud is unveiling both a new watch and a new commercial approach to production.  

The main feature of the new approach, in a nutshell, is that for each new calibre released, the company will announce beforehand how many will be produced in total, before production is permanently discontinued. This information might seem incidental, but it’s anything but.

20 squelettes sinon rien !

FB 2RS.2 © Ferdinand Berthoud

A safety cushion

According to the usual operating procedure within the watch industry, when a brand announces a new model, it will already have a considerable stock of movements in reserve. For instance, ahead of the launch of a 5,000-piece series, 10,000 movements might be ordered. This excess inventory enables the company to bring out more variations at a later date, to produce a few limited series, to have a stock of spares, or even to put the movement aside for a few years with a view to bringing out a reissue further down the line, or incorporating it into a different collection.

Movement availability is crucial, and that’s why most brands give themselves a comfortable cushion to ensure they never run out. The long-running ETA/COMCO saga only goes to show how profitable this strategy can be.

20 squelettes sinon rien !

FB 2RS.2 © Ferdinand Berthoud

Bamboozled collectors?

For the seasoned collector, this strategy can seem confusing to say the least, if not downright deceitful. A watch lover might succumb to the temptation of buying a watch because it is presented in a limited series of just a few dozen or a few hundred pieces. Because the limited nature of production guarantees that its value will rise, it looks like a wise investment. But this assumption is often proved false when, without warning, the brand in question later decides to create another limited series with a few minute variations, or even brings the model into the current collection. The initial purchase, having been presented as rare and limited, is rare no longer, and the buyer is left with an unsound investment and the sour taste of having been duped.

Twenty movements and not one more

In order to protect its collectors, Ferdinand Berthoud has therefore decided that from now on, production of every calibre will be strictly limited, with the total number of pieces announced clearly from the outset. The aim is very simple: to guarantee the scarcity of a Ferdinand Berthoud watch, and thus to protect the interests of collectors.

This new measure applies to the manufacture’s latest creation, the Regulator Skeleton FB RS. The calibre that drives the watch will be produced in a strictly limited run of 20. After that, no more of this skeleton movement will be made.

20 squelettes sinon rien !

Regulator Skeleton FB RS © Ferdinand Berthoud

Open heart

The FB-T.FC-RS calibre is the manufacture’s first skeleton movement. This Regulator Chronometer with tourbillon and fusée-and-chain is the culmination of a holistic process of technical and aesthetic development, inspired by the Marine Clock No. 8 made by Ferdinand Berthoud in Paris in 1768. The tourbillon at 6 o’clock has been painstakingly engineered to remove all non-essential material. The result is a mechanism that appears to be suspended in the air. The power reserve system at 10 o’clock is also highly visible, as are the gears in the centre of the hours and minutes dial, at 12 o’clock.

As we have come to expect from Ferdinand Berthoud, the finish is taken to a pinnacle of perfection. The tourbillon bridge visible from the dial side is a tour de force in itself: mirror-polished, chamfered, with polished edges and sandblasted inner surfaces. Each movement calls upon dozens of different artisanal techniques for the decoration alone. Almost a year of tests were needed to achieve a level of finish that, for the first time, would make it possible to admire the complexity of the new movement from the dial side.

One movement, two cases

The final surprise of the new movement is that collectors can choose their own case, from the combinations offered by Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud. The manufacture currently offers two options: the FB 1RS.6 with an octagonal case-hardened steel case, and the FB 2RS.2 in a round 18K rose gold case. Steel or gold; octagonal or round; the choice is yours.

20 squelettes sinon rien !

FB 1RS.6 © Ferdinand Berthoud

While the manufacture is not in the business of bespoke production, this nevertheless represents a major step in the direction of customisation. The ability to choose one’s own case, rather than merely the strap or PVD coating, is an extremely rare, if not unique, feature these days.


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