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Ferdinand Berthoud - Ferdinand Berthoud, running on instruments

Ferdinand Berthoud Ferdinand Berthoud, running on instruments

The latest complication from the haute horlogerie brand, the moon phase and age display of the Chronomètre FB 1.L, are like nothing we’ve seen before. But we would expect no less from Ferdinand Berthoud.

One model, two versions, and two lunar indications. After several iterations of the tourbillon chronometer – constant force, central seconds, superlative finishes – Ferdinand Berthoud is taking a trip to the moon. The Chronomètre FB 1.L displays the phases of Earth’s familiar satellite. But, because the brand does nothing by halves, and because it also refuses to rush into anything, this evolution was several years in the making. Obviously, this timepiece had to be out-of-the-ordinary in more than just one way..

Ferdinand Berthoud, running on instruments

Calibre FB-T.FC.L © Ferdinand Berthoud

First, there’s the design. The Chronomètre FB 1 family has a very distinctive shape, determined by the two lateral stretchers that give it an octagonal profile. They enclose a container that holds the movement and acts as a fixing point for the external elements of the case, including the lugs. But the display of this piece is anything but classical. Hours and minutes are up at the top of the dial, the seconds are central (very rare in a tourbillon watch), and the rest of the dial is divided between the moon, an empty space and a spring, which is attached to the hand that rises and falls in a sector dial down near 6 o’clock. Its trajectory follows the waxing and waning of the moon. And if that’s not sufficiently clear, or sufficiently original, Ferdinand Berthoud provides the information in a different form: a moon in relief, with an arrow pointing to a window at 4 o’clock. 

Ferdinand Berthoud, running on instruments

© Ferdinand Berthoud

Inside is a zig-zagging metallic strip dotted with full moons and new moons. In fact, this component is a cam, and it holds information on the lunar cycle. It extends around the entire circumference of the watch, underneath the dial – an exceptional arrangement dictated by Ferdinand Berthoud’s exacting requirements. This cam in fact represents a complete lunar year of 354.36 days, and its extraordinary precision means that the FB 1.L will faithfully represent the nocturnal spectacle for 577 years. After that, a minor adjustment will be needed. The commonly accepted threshold for being able to claim the title “astronomical moon” is that the complication requires correction every 122 years. So we’re some way ahead of that standard, once again. As usual, Ferdinand Berthoud has paid meticulous attention to both the design of the movement and the finish of the calibre, hands, dials, case elements, which far exceed the normal standards.

Ferdinand Berthoud, running on instruments

FB 1L.1 and FB 1L.4 © Ferdinand Berthoud

The Chronomètre FB 1.L comes in two limited series of 10. The first, the Chronomètre FB 1L.1, is distinguished by its white gold case and black ceramic lugs. The dial is rhodium plated and sandblasted to create a light grey matte finish. The second is the Chronomètre FB 1L.4. It comes in a white gold case with a matte grey ceramised titanium outer and lugs. This material is created through an electro-plasma process, which transforms the surface of the titanium into ceramic while leaving the metal underneath intact. It thus has the hardness and lightness of titanium, combined with the exceptional scratch resistance of ceramic (approximately four times that of titanium). The sandblasted black PVD dial completes the watch’s brooding presence.

Ferdinand Berthoud, running on instruments

Case back view © Ferdinand Berthoud


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