In the 18th Century, Ferdinand Berthoud was the watchmaker. In 1770, for example, he was awarded the title ‘Clockmaker Mechanic by appointment to the French King and Navy’. Sounds fancy, right? But it was an achievement duly deserved and, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the appointment, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud has unveiled a new watch; the Chronomètre FB 2RE.
Inspired by Berthoud’s Marine Clock No. 6 — a timepiece crafted to calculate longitude during sea voyages — this new chronometer pays tribute to the genius of the watchmaker, and takes its style cues from the architecture and design of his iconic marine clock.
But it’s not all about history and heritage. As with all of its watches, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud has also fashioned cutting-edge contemporary components to ensure the Chronomètre FB 2RE is as pioneering today as Berthoud’s innovations were several centuries ago — including a calibre with ‘remontoir d’égalité’. But we’ll get to that.
First, to the looks. Because this is an exceedingly handsome watch. The signature shape of the case is borrowed once more from the design of Marine Clock No.6. Berthoud invented a modular, cylindrical copper design for his clock which can be seen here reinvented in 18ct rose gold. Short, tapered lugs are solidly secured to the case by stylised bolts, and a curved bezel with strongly domed ‘chevée’ sapphire crystal enhances and rounds out the 44mm diameter.
The crown is also worthy of a mention. Oversized and knurled to afford the wearer an easier grip, it offers both practicality and an elegance typical of every Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud timepiece.
The dial is similarly sophisticated. Ferdinand Berthoud designed a two-tiered dial for his original Marine Clock No.6 — featuring both Roman and Arabic numerals for legibility. The Chronomètre FB 2RE follows the same principle — albeit stylistically heightened by the use of ‘grand feu’ enamel.
The hours and minutes hands are dagger-type; 18ct gold and with a hollowed-out design reminiscent of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud’s previous timepiece, the FB 1. The seconds hand is titanium, incredibly thin and staggeringly light — weighing in at a minuscule 0.01 grams. But it is this lightness of weight that helps reduce the burden on the watch’s ‘remontoir d’égalité’.
So what exactly is the ‘remontoir d’égalité’? Difficult to explain, for one. Tremendously impressive, for another. The centrepiece of the FB-RE.FC calibre, it is one of the most complex torque regulation systems in the history of time measurement. We’d try to explain further — but we’d be here all day. Just rest assured; the watch is better off, more precise and considerably more impressive for having it.
But the movement, for all the ground it breaks and innovations it pioneers, pales in comparison to the quiet, calm beauty of the watch itself. Scheufele was keen to use only ethically sourced gold to create the Chronomètre FB 2RE — and only 10 of these rose gold timepieces will be created as a result. A further 10 in white gold with white enamel dials will be produced.
But it’s the black and gold for us. Every time. Those nickel silver bridges have been given a frosted finish with a graining brush. The arrow-shaped steel balance bridge has been mirror polished. All moving parts have been chamfered and bevelled using traditional tools. You simply don’t see this level of care and quality craftsmanship with watches anymore. And yet here sits the Chronomètre FB 2RE — a watch even Ferdinand Berthoud would be proud of.
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE
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