Insider: Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB1.2 and FB1.3. Two of the Finest Examples of Exquisite Modern Watchmaking.

A year after its launch by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, the co-president of Chopard and founder of Chopard's in-house manufacture L.U.C division, Ferdinand Berthoud had already received the highest award given in the watchmaking industry. After winning the Grand Prix “Aiguille d’Or” prize at the 16th Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève —GPHG— in 2016 with its Chronomètre FB1.1 in 18K white gold —we featured here—, the brand followed with the release of two additional iterations of this incredible watch in 2017. The Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB1.2 and FB1.3 share the same design as the first FB1.1 but offer two completely different looks. While the FB1.2 is cased in 18K rose gold with a black vertical satin brushed dial, the FB1.3 is cased in platinum with a silver vertical satin brushed dial.

This 3-year-old brand is the latest resurrection in the Swiss watchmaking industry of a very well-known name in the horological world. Ferdinand Berthoud was a watchmaker born in Plancemont in the heart of the Val-de-Travers region of the Canton Neuchâtel, Switzerland back in 1727 and one of the most important horologists of its time, awarded the warrant of Watchmaker-Mechanic to the French King and its Royal Navy.

Things to Know About the Watch

The Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB1.2 and FB1.3 are in-house Fusée-Chain Chronometers equipped with a tourbillon. Featuring 44 mm octagonal cases with watertight openings —that allow for lateral view of the movement—, the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1 is powered by a manual wound movement composed of no less than 1,120 components. Both watches are available in a highly exclusive limited edition of 50 pieces each with close to a quarter million dollars price tag.

The Dial

While both watches feature vertical satin brushed finished dials, the look of each of them is absolutely different. The dials feature a cut-out that is carefully chamfered and contoured, through which one can appreciate the seconds wheel-and-pinion and the driving wheel of the tourbillon carriage. While the seconds are boldly displayed through a translucent sapphire crystal ring on the rim of the dial, a lacquered subdial at 12 o'clock—in white for the pink gold model with black dial and black for the platinum reference with silver dial— shows the time. At 9 o'clock, the icing on the cake comes in the shape of a recessed chamfered gauge-type power reserve indicator with its 'high' and 'low' indications in French. Lastly, as a homage to the man that inspired the founding of this manufacture, an inscription that reads 'Val-de-Travers Suisse' is located between 6 and 4 o 'clock. Val-de-Travers accentuates the regional nature of the watch referring to the birthplace of Ferdinand Berthoud and to the place where these stunning timepieces are manufactured.

The Case Construction

Taking its inspiration from the marine clocks built by Ferdinand Berthoud, the 44 mm case construction for these chronometers is not average at all. The cases are octagonal and feature a black ceramic insert at the lugs that is reminiscent of the gimbal suspension system of onboard marine chronometers.

A water tight central container houses the movement and four lateral watertight sapphire portholes allow for unobstructed views of the power reserve mechanism and the constant-force module. Meanwhile the display case back allows for full view of the back of the movement with its tourbillon and fusée and chain mechanism. At 9 o'clock on the caseband, the reference number and individual number for each watch is carefully stamped. The winding crown also features an insert in the same matte ceramic as the one on the end links. 

The Movement

Entirely independently conceived, developed and produced by the Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud in Fleurier, the manual wound FB-T.FC calibre features a tourbillon with central seconds, a distinctive pillar-type architecture, an innovative suspended fusée–chain regulating system and a mobile cone power reserve indicator via the dial side.

Fitted on gear wheels with tapering spokes and supported by stylized pillars, the barrel, fusée and tourbillon appear to be suspended in mid-air via the display case back. The entirely hand-decorated half-bridges are satin-finished and bevelled with straight-grained flanks, while the jewels are set in finely polished and chamfered chatons. The movement is fitted with an exclusive constant force regulation system with suspended fusée and chain transmission, equipped with a differential winding system. The barrel and fusée are linked by a chain comprised of no less than 474 steel links secured with more than 300 pins that are not wider than 0.30 mm in diameter and all assembled by hand. The chain is 28 centimeters long —11 inches.  

The Strap & Clasp

Both watches come on double rolled edge hand-sewn handmade alligator straps. While the 18K rose gold reference features a pin buckle, the platinum model comes with a folding clasp. The platinum folding clasp features a safety mechanism with two buttons to avoid inadvertently opening the clasp. Additionally, this clasp features a micro-adjustment push button on the blade to extend or shorten the clasp for a more comfortable fit when your wrist starts to swell.

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the watch wears slightly bigger due to its unconventional shape and with incredible wrist presence. A great example of 'haute horlogerie' and a proud recipient of the most coveted award in the world of horology. These watches are available in a limited edition of only 50 pieces each and while both watches are absolutely stunning, the platinum model is the way to go amongst these two. Other than its density and unique luster, the beauty of platinum also lies in the fact that this metal is perfect at flying under the radar and passing as a stainless steel watch while on the wrist. Now, once you let someone peruse the watch, its heavy-set density will be the tell tale.

Sticker Price $222,000 USD for 18K pink gold and $260,000 USD for platinum. For more info on Ferdinand Berthoud click here.