Over the past 12 months there has been a noticeable shift back towards more classic, reserved timepieces as brands and buyers emerged from the global financial crisis with decidedly different (perhaps humbled?) tastes. This trend has been even more apparent in men’s watches, with over-sized dials and flashy gems largely replaced by smaller, thinner more traditional (conservative?) pieces. One such example is the exceptional Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Balance Spring by new-comer Laurent Ferrier, which recently took out the award for the male category at the 2010 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
A New (Old) Face
Although this is Ferrier’s first piece under his own name, don’t assume he is some new kid on the block still wet behind the ears. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ferrier actually spent 37 years working for Patek Philippe, arguably one of, if not the, most well-respected watch manufacturers in the industry before he decided to call it quits and launch his own project.
As they say, one man’s loss is another man’s gain and in this case, we (the clients) are clearly the winners. Still, upon first impressions at least, it seems that Ferrier has still retained some connection to the storied watch-maker. From the classic lines and extremely high-level of finishing to the placement of the tourbillion complication at the rear of the movement, we daresay that the obvious comparisons to Patek have and will be inevitable (which is not a bad thing at all!)
The piece was conceived and manufactured in conjunction with the incredibly gifted team at La Fabrique du Temps, founded a few years ago by Michel Navas and Enrico Babasini (the NB of BNB fame), with Laurent’s son Christian (who also works for Fabrique du Temps) responsible for the development of the movement.
Judging from the results, talent must run in the family.
Traditional Watch-Making, As It Should Be
At first glance the Galet Classic appears deceptively simple, however, turn it over and you will quickly realize that this is a timepiece that has been created for true connoisseurs. Visible through the sapphire case-back, the 80 hour, hand-wound “Tourbillon Double Balance Spring” movement is fitted with an escapement which has never been used before in a Tourbillon escapement: it features two inversed balance springs which allow the movement to average out the negative influence of the earth gravity by keeping the balance center on its axis.
Essentially this means that where typically one balance spring would be found, there are now two on top of one another, which beat in opposing directions. The idea behind this construction is that they will regulate each other and provide the most consistent rate possible.
A relatively minor touch perhaps, especially in comparison to some of the more extravagant examples of complicated timepieces we’ve seen in recent times, but in our eyes this is a hallmark of truly exceptional craftsmanship: no fancy gimmicks are required; the quality of the work speaks for itself.
The elegant dial is inspired by the great chronometers of the 19th century and has been designed to simply tell the time as clearly and as easily as possible. As one would expect from a piece of this quality there is a large degree of hand-finishing and the level of attention to detail is sublime. The 41mm case is just 9.5mm thick and is offered in your choice of Rose Gold, Yellow Gold or White Gold.
Prices start at US$165,000 for the Yellow Gold version.
The Final Word
Every aspect of this piece is dedicated to the celebration of refined luxury and a shift in focus back to high quality, traditional craftmanship. With this new piece it is almost as if Ferrier is saying it’s ok to make luxury timepieces that look like pieces that have been made before. We are all for product development and pushing boundaries, but at the same time it is not always necessary to reinvent the wheel to look or function completely differently. Rather the key is to make the best wheel you possibly can, without compromise and without cutting corners.
These are the marks of true craftsmanship, making what is incredibly difficult appear effortless and constructing pieces that are both functional and beautiful. The Galet Classic doesn’t ask for, nor seek out, attention but be assured that it will attract plenty of it just the same.
For more information please visit the official Laurent Ferrier website at: www.laurentferrier.ch/