Ferdinand Berthoud Unveils The “Oeuvre d’Or” Collection

Press Release – SIHH 2019

Ferdinand Berthoud Unveils The “Oeuvre d’Or” Collection

Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud unveils the “Oeuvre d’Or” collection, a new artistic interpretation of its original creation, the Chronomètre FB 1.

This model previously existed in two gold versions: white gold with titanium lugs (FB 1.1) and rose gold with black ceramic lugs (FB 1.2). The collection now welcomes two additional variations, reprising the precious metals of their predecessors, white gold (FB 1.1-2) and rose gold (FB 1.2-1) respectively, while adorning them with original decorations.
 

These new entirely hand-crafted decorations are lavished on both the dial and its engravings, as well as the movement half-bridges, entirely crafted in 18-carat gold. The white gold version is also the very first gemset creation from Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud.
 

These two new editions are issued in exclusive five-piece limited editions. They are directly inspired by a model created by Ferdinand Berthoud, astronomical pocket watch No. 3, assembled and adjusted in Paris in 1806 by his student, Jean Martin. It is now part of the L.U.CEUM collection in Fleurier.

A Philosophical Approach

The Chronomètre FB 1 is the first creation from Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud. Entirely crafted within the Manufacture in Fleurier, it stems from many years of development.

Its slant-edged case is inspired by the architecture of the marine chronometers designed by Ferdinand Berthoud from 1760 onwards. It was on December 13th of that year that he submitted to the French Académie des Sciences his Mémoire sur les principes de construction d’une Horloge de Marine. This description of the construction principles for a marine clock laid the foundations for Ferdinand Berthoud's very first marine chronometer, which was completed the following year, in 1761. For more than 45 years, Ferdinand Berthoud perfected its movements so as to achieve the highest possible chronometric precision.
 

The FB 1 collection of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud pays tribute to this work and to the movements that pioneered chronometric precision. Its case is inspired by Ferdinand Berthoud's marine chronometers, in particular their gimbal suspension that served to maintain on-board chronometers in a permanently horizontal position.

The movement is placed in the centre of a watertight container and has a characteristic pillar-type structure. This technique of affixing bridges to the mainplate was no longer in use until this new revival. It lightens the structure of the movement and at the same time enables a very open view of its details and finishes. This 100% in-house movement has three distinctive features.
 

A Daring Technical Choice

First of all, the movement comprises an original suspended fusee-and-chain transmission system. The latter serves to deliver constant force to the escapement throughout the running time of the movement, from its first turn of the crown through to complete winding, thereby serving to achieve 53 hours of power reserve.

Secondly, the calibre is equipped with a direct-drive seconds tourbillon. The tourbillon itself makes it possible to compensate for the variations in movement induced by the different positions to which a wristwatch will have to adapt, several dozen times a day. This direct-drive seconds display is made possible by the correlation between the fourth wheel and the wheel driving the tourbillon carriage, both perfectly identical and visible on the dial side.
 

Finally, the FB-T.FC calibre is equipped with a power-reserve indicator operating in an atypical manner. It rests on a mobile cone which, in association with the rotation of the cylinder, moves up and down according to the state of wind. A jewel-tipped mobile arm (feeler spindle), takes an extremely accurate measurement, which it then transmits to a visible hand on the dial side.

The accuracy of each movement is attested by a chronometry certificate issued by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). Four patents have been filed for the unique features of the Ferdinand Berthoud movement.
 

These two new five-piece limited editions entirely reproduce the original movement of the Chronométrie FB 1, while adding totally exclusive decorations. The first limited edition, named FB 1.1-2, features several new finishes.
 

Hand-Engraved Patinated Gold Dial

The first appears on the dial side: the Chronomètre FB 1.1-2 harmoniously combines an 18-carat white gold case with an 18-carat yellow gold dial. The distinctive design of the watch face offers a broad surface on which to express an exclusive finish: a hand-crafted patina. This patina is created using a combination of engraving techniques that require great manual dexterity. First of all, the gold is finely grained with a graver. The surface is then crafted at length using a tool called a "rocker", enabling the light to glide across the dial to the rhythm of the shimmering reflections of the moiré effect thus created. A symbol of the passing of time and of Ferdinand Berthoud's legacy, this combination of artistic techniques recalls the natural patina of the dial of the astronomical pocket watch No. 3 that inspired the Chronomètre FB 1.
 

Each of the five dials in this limited edition is hand-engraved and then subtly coloured to perfect the overall legibility. The FB 1.1-2 model, like Ferdinand Berthoud's original creations, is adorned with manual engravings that make it unique: "Ferdinand Berthoud - Chronomètre - Val-de-Travers - Suisse", followed by the individual limited-edition number, "N° X/5". Opposite these engravings are those indicating the power reserve of the movement: "Haut" and "Bas” (High and Low).

Pyramid Engraving

Another style of original finishes appears on the case-back side. For the first time, the FB 1 collection features a "pyramid" motif decoration adorning the entire surface of its three half-bridges, an authentic artisanal feat demonstrating the know-how of the Manufacture’s engravers. The material is cut free-hand with flawless precision and regularity using a graver. Already adorning two elements of the Regulator FB 1R, this "pyramid" decoration is inspired by the base of a clock by Ferdinand Berthoud, kept at the L.U.CEUM, in Fleurier. It is an astronomical measuring instrument, just like the astronomical pocket watch No.3 which inspired the FB 1.1-2 model. The latter thus reinforces its astronomical filiation by deploying the "pyramid" decoration on the back of the movement, offering an expressive new touch to the reverse side of the calibre which reveals the tourbillon, the barrel, as well as the fusee-and-chain transmission system.
 

This decoration also includes 18-carat gold cartouches bearing the inscriptions “Ferdinand Berthoud, Chronomètre Suisse 45 rubis". This is Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud’s first use of invisibly-screwed cartouches. They lend a new dimension to the back of the timepiece as well as aesthetic coherence, reflecting the finish of the tourbillon bridge.

First Gemset Case From The Manufacture

The new FB 1.1-2 model in 18-carat white gold stands out in terms of the case itself, since some of its faces are adorned with baguette-cut diamonds for the very first time.

There are four in all: on either side of the crown and alongside the engraving of the limited-edition number facing it at 9 o'clock. In other words, the FB 1.1-2 model is the first creation in its lineage to feature gemsetting instead of the sapphire crystal portholes that historically revealed the key movement components.

This new five-piece limited edition radiates a sparkling, exclusive jewellery design. The crown is also set, a first for Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud. The exclusive choice of baguette-cut diamonds evokes the vertical pillar-type construction of the movement beating at its heart.
 

The second limited series, called FB 1.2-1, displays most of the characteristics of the 1.1-2 model. The movement, finishes and dial engravings are similar. The differences lie in the fact that its case is entirely made of 18-carat rose gold, as are the dial, lugs, fastening screws and three half-bridges visible through the back. For the first time, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud has applied the use of rose gold to all these elements, thus ensuring a perfectly consistent appearance of the five FB 1.2-1 timepieces while giving a new glow to the FB 1 collection.

To accompany this unprecedented chromatic development, the Manufacture has chosen a set of hands in blued gold for the hours, minutes and power reserve and in blued bronze for the central sweep-seconds hand. The blue colour is reminiscent of the blue steel hands on the astronomical pocket watch No. 3 of 1806.
 

Finally, for a smoother transition between dial and movement, the chamfers surrounding the tourbillon have been polished by hand, as have those around the power-reserve indication. Within these openings (tourbillon and power reserve), the Manufacture alternates between straight-grained and circular satin-brushed decorations, thereby individually highlighting each component according to its position, material and function.

Hands-On: Ferdinand Berthoud's FB 1 Oeuvre d’Or, A Masterpiece Of Decoration

By Benjamin TeisseireEditor & Business Development
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