Introducing: The Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 1L

Fast Take

Ferdinand Berthoud (the model is a member of the Chopard Group, together with Chopard itself, in addition to Fleurier Ebauches, SA) was initially launched in 2015, when its first watch, the laconically named FB 1, was launched. That watch was impressed by the design, in addition to among the technical options, of marine chronometers and it included, along with an uncommon central seconds hand immediately pushed by the tourbillon cage, a chain-and-fusee mechanism for offering unvarying torque all through the operating time of the watch (a typical function in boxed marine chronometers) in addition to various different fascinating options, embrace a conical energy reserve indicator. The case was impressed by the gimbaled containers wherein marine chronometers have been housed on board the ships which used them as important navigation devices, and the general design appeared pleasantly harmonious – my first impression of the watch was that for all its complexity, it was surprisingly straightforward to put on, and that impression was reinforce in 2017, once I lastly had a possibility to put on one for A Week On The Wrist. 

FB 1L, in white gold, with show for the age and part of the Moon.

The variety of watches produced annually at Ferdinand Berthoud is sort of low, with the unique FB 1 produced in a restricted run of 50 items in both white gold or titanium, and correspondingly small numbers for follow-ups. The unique FB 1 was critically very properly acquired, successful the “Aiguille d’Or” (first prize for finest watch of the yr) on the 2016 GPHG, which I can say, after two years as a juror, is sort of a bit extra hotly debated a prize amongst the members of the jury than you would possibly assume. Subsequent variations on the FB 1 take the identical fundamental motion and design as a place to begin, however introduce new design components; the FB 1.four, for instance, omits the sapphire home windows constructed into the case flanks of earlier variations, however provides motion bridges manufactured from sapphire, which permit the proprietor to raised respect the complexity of the mechanism, and to extra simply see the connection between the assorted motive components, together with the fusee, barrel, and the tourbillon itself.

FB 1L, motion aspect; the selector change, decrease left, enable the person to set both the moonphase and age indication, or the time.

The FB 1L is the primary Ferdinand Berthoud watch to function a complication (strictly talking, issues like fusees and tourbillons will not be, not less than in case you are a persnickety traditionalist about watch terminology, issues, however are as a substitute thought of regulating units). The FB 1L reveals the age and part of the Moon – the 2 phrases are associated however distinct; the part of the Moon is outlined as the form of the sunlit portion of the lunar disk, whereas the age is the variety of days for the reason that final New Moon. 

Moonphase and age indication.

These two items of data are present by a hand that factors to a sector on the dial that reveals the present moonphase, and which additionally counts up the variety of days for the reason that final New Moon (as much as 14) after which counts down once more. The hand is pushed by a rack-and-gear system (a “feeler-spindle” as FB calls it) with the nostril of the rack using in opposition to a cam the diameter of your complete dial – the show is extraordinarily correct, accumulating solely at some point’s error in 577 years. As a way to keep away from confusion as as to whether the moon is waxing or waning, a second window on the dial, positioned between four:00 and 5:00 (roughly) which helps you to simply see if the moonphase hand is rising or returning. The watch shall be made in two variations – the Far Facet Of The Moon model (FB 1.L4) reveals the far aspect of the Moon on the dial, and is manufactured from sand-blasted white gold, with lugs and aspect components of ceramised titanium. The Close to Facet Of The Moon (FB 1L.1)  is in white gold, with black ceramic lugs, and reveals the aspect of the Moon seen from Earth (because the Moon is tidally locked in its orbit, the identical aspect all the time faces us). 

Preliminary Ideas

Waxing and waning indication (the complete Moon has simply handed and the Moon is waning, in direction of the subsequent New Moon) “Far Facet of The Moon” model.

For an organization which takes its inspiration from the life and work of the well-known French chronometer pioneer, Ferdinand Berthoud (1727-1807) the moonphase complication appears a pure one to discover. Throughout Berthoud’s lifetime various totally different programs for calculating longitude have been tried, and one was the system of “lunar distances” which was based mostly on utilizing observations of the angular distance between the Moon, and one other celestial object. 

Making such observations precisely was a big problem (I nonetheless keep in mind struggling, one sizzling summer season afternoon on another person’s boat a number of years in the past, to discover ways to use a sextant) and one instrument used to refine the precision of such observations was a double-telescope equipment generally known as a repeating circle – generally referred to as a Cercle de Borda, after Jean-Charles de Borda (1733-1799) the French mathematician, scientist, and navigation pioneer who invented it. De Borda was a up to date of Berthoud’s and used his chronometers, most notably throughout a voyage on the frigate La Flore, in 1777. The system of lunar distances was ultimately outmoded as marine chronometers turned an increasing number of correct, however the two strategies coexisted for a lot of a long time and navigators have been anticipated to know each, because the accuracy of a marine chronometer could possibly be checked in opposition to the lunar distances technique, which might additionally perform as a back-up system of navigation ought to the chronometer cease working or in any other case malfunction.

Berthoud chronometer, 1793, with decimal time indication, made for the de Borda, with spring detent chronometer escapement, and deadbeat heart seconds.

The connection between Berthoud and de Borda is one thing the corporate, Ferdinand Berthoud, made a lot of on the discharge of the FB 1L, however it’s a logical connection to make in case you’re going the historic inspiration route in any respect and I give the corporate lots of credit score for dealing with the complication in a thought of style. An ordinary moonphase show, nonetheless correct, merely would not really feel significantly correct – or maybe I ought to say, to be extra exact, that it would not situate you with respect to the cycles of the lunar disk in a very intuitive style. With this model of the moonphase show (for which Ferdinand Berthoud has a patent) you get, as soon as you’ve got adjusted to studying the show, a direct sense of the place the Moon is in its cycles and in its orbits across the Earth. It is way more elaborate than a traditional show (or a spherical moonphase) however then, this type of suits the notion of utilizing lunar distances to calculate the longitude, which was theoretically as correct, however way more tough and complicated, than simply utilizing an correct sea-clock to calculate the angular distance from Greenwich.

Moonphase and age cam, being put in on the dial aspect of the motion.

Additionally it is, in its implementation, very a lot a celebration of the pleasure watch fans, and lovers of mechanics on the whole, absorb mechanics as an finish in itself. The cam, rack, and equipment system is pleasing to look at in operation, uncommon, and designed in a means very a lot in concord with the remainder of the watch and just like the tourbillon, the direct drive heart seconds, and the chain-and-fusee system, it’s each pointless and intelligent on the identical time, in addition to a tangible connection to antiquated however nonetheless fascinating practices in navigation. And, regardless of the complexity of the watch, Ferdinand Berthoud acknowledges that a watch ought to not be uncomfortable to put on, not less than sometimes – whereas the 44mm diameter appears a bit daunting as a uncooked quantity, the  watch remains to be comparatively flat for a timepiece with a chain-and-fusee, at 13.95mm (that is partly due to the “hanging” mainspring barrel and fusee cone, which like a flying tourbillon are hooked up solely to the mainplate, with no further bridge so as to add thickness to the watch). 

The late George Daniels as soon as wrote of Ferdinand Berthoud that he, ” … thought very extremely of his personal work,” (Watchmaking, 2011 version, p. 203; to be truthful if it was true of Berthoud, was actually true of lots of his contemporaries – the surviving writings of John Harrison actually don’t give an impression of an individual who believes that the meek shall inherit the Earth). Nevertheless, on this case, I believe he would have additionally thought extremely of the work of his namesake firm – not simply from a supplies and expertise perspective, however from a design and craft perspective as properly. 

The Fundamentals

Model: Ferdinand Berthoud
Mannequin: FB 1L

 Diameter: 44mm
Thickness: 13.95mm
Case Materials: white gold with sapphire home windows in case flank; ceramic lug components
Dial: rhodium-plated brass; Moon plate in rhodium-plated sandblasted brass
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Strap/Bracelet: hand-stitched rolled edge alligator leather, white gold double folding clasp (pin buckle out there on request).

“Close to Facet Of The Moon” model.

The Motion

Caliber: FB-T.FC.L
Capabilities: hours, minutes, heart seconds; age and part of the Moon
Diameter: 37.30mm
Thickness: 9.38mm
Energy Reserve: 53 hours
Winding: guide
Frequency: 21,600 vph
Jewels: 55
Chronometer Licensed: sure; COSC
Further Particulars: “suspended” fusee cone and mainspring barrel; one minute tourbillon with titanium carriage, poised with 18ok gold inertia blocks; direct drive heart seconds pushed off the tourbillon cage; adjustable mass, freesprung stability with Phillips outer terminal curve (overcoil). Energy reserve on the again of the motion; Swiss lever escapement; rhodium-plated German silver half-bridges on titanium pillars.

Pricing & Availability

Value: CHF 265,000 (FB 1L.1, white gold); CHF 250,000 (FB 1L.four, titanium)
Availability: Not but introduced
Restricted Version: 10 items in every steel

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<p>The feeler spindle and its bridge.</p>

The feeler spindle and its bridge.

<p>Bridge carrying the power reserve.</p>

Bridge carrying the ability reserve.

<p>Moonphase cam.</p>

Moonphase cam.

<p>Moonphase cam being installed in the movement.</p>

Moonphase cam being put in within the motion.

<p>Feeler spindle being installed.&nbsp;</p>

Feeler spindle being put in. 

<p>Assembled movement, with hanging/suspended fusee cone and mainspring barrel.</p>

Assembled motion, with hanging/suspended fusee cone and mainspring barrel.

<p>Sapphire window showing the fusee chain (285mm long, 790 parts).&nbsp;</p>

Sapphire window displaying the fusee chain (285mm lengthy, 790 components). 

<p>Mounting the moonphase hand.</p>

Mounting the moonphase hand.

<p>FB 1L.1; the waxing Moon is nearly full.</p>

FB 1L.1; the waxing Moon is almost full.