Last night I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with the classically elegant brand Laurent Ferrier SA. For those who are not familiar with this five-year-young watch company, you should be. Laurent Ferrier is a watchmaker extraordinaire. For 37 years he worked at Patek Philippe in design and technical research carving his reputation out of cases, base plates, movements and invention.
When he struck out to start his own business, it was almost by chance. A friend who shared his passion for watchmaking suggested he do what he wanted to do: be an atelier watch brand – an independent who focuses solely on traditional watchmaking. His dream has been realized, as Laurent Ferrier – which just moved in the atelier workshops into a charming historic building in Geneva – crafts every single watch by hand. Each timepiece features a movement that is hand finished and hand assembled by a single watchmaker. Each is hand placed into the hand-finished case – with every attention paid to detail.
With just seven watchmakers on board, the brand remains true to Ferrier’s dream of hand craftsmanship, traditional elegance, precision movements and extremely limited production. In fact, the company builds just about 100 watches annually — each piece individually unique. These are watches destined for just a few – an exclusive haute horlogerie offering you will want to see and own if you have the opportunity.
We absolutely love the fine watchmaking and beauty of these watches, perhaps because Laurent Ferrier, with three generations of watchmakers behind him, not only respects watchmaking tradition, but also challenges himself constantly to create innovative movements that are the perfect blend of technical, mechanical and artful. In pursuit of excellence, Ferrier insisted each of his timepieces earn chronometric precision from the Besancon Observatory. A year after his first timepiece arrived on the scene, in 2010 Laurent Ferrier won the Watchmaking Grand Prix in the Men’s Watch category for the Galet Classic tourbillon. Among the stars of Laurent Ferrier’s show is the Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral, a certified chronometer with double inverted hairsprings (sometimes referred to as a balance spring) to keep the balance regulated to extreme precision. Also notable is the Galet Secret – a watch that features a shutter-type dial that – with the click of a pusher – the shutter opens three-quarters of the way to reveal another dial design beneath. These are custom made timepieces.
It is in the Galet Micro Rotor and Traveler where prices become somewhat more attainable for the avid collector. The Micro-rotor movement features a pawl-fitted unidirectional winding system while the Traveller, as its name indicates, offers a dual time zone display that can be changed either forwards or backwards in one hour increments. It is the result of two years of R&D. These two timepieces offer top-tier technology and performance in harmoniously elegant cases.All Laurent Ferrier timepieces are crafted out of noble metals only and hand finished to perfection. The opening price is for the Micro-rotor, at about $53,000. The newer Traveller (with dual time zone) retails for about $68,000. The Classic Tourbillon is $208,000, and the extremely elaborate Secret watches retail for quite a bit more. But to own one of 100 pieces made annually may well be worth it – especially when you see what’s being unveiled later this month at BaselWorld.