Ferdinand Berthoud’s latest is a watch that is directly inspired by a famous marine clock creation of the master watchmaker himself, simply catalogued at the French Museum of Arts and Trades as the Number Six. The watchmaking prowess that he demonstrated with the Number Six is the very same timepiece that granted him the designation of Watchmaker to the King and Navy of France in 1770.
Of course, one of the first things that many are bound to point out is that the present-day brand has now deviated from the octagonal case shape for a classical round case for the all new Chronomètre FB 2RE. But a deeper inspection will reveal that the new shape aside, what has been achieved here is a wonderful sense of dynamic tension between the past and the future.
It is a watch that clearly plays homage to an actual marine chronometer and there are certain elements, like the design of the Grand Féu enamel dial, for example, that feel very vintage inspired but the gold hour and minutes hands, for the white gold version, are actually blued by means of Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). At the same time, you have this modular case, with these lugs that are attached and has this lateral display window, showcasing the fusée and chain of the movement, that are clearly modern implementations of how we have come to appreciate horology. There is also the design of the concave bezel, which is complimented by a boxed sapphire crystal.
Turning the watch over, the visual treat continues first and foremost with the expanse of the hand frosted remontoir bridge. The bridge keeps focus on the fusée and chain mechanism as well as the escapement assembly, hiding the remainder of the gear train.
Now while the fusée and chain mechanism is familiar to the watchmaking vocabulary of the modern-day Ferdinand Berthoud, what we should pay closer attention to with the movement of the FB 2RE is the escapement. Because it’s one that incorporates a 1-second remontoir d’égalité.
According to the team at Ferdinand Berthoud, the remontoir d’égalité mechanism they have incorporated into the movement of the FB 2RE is one that is modeled after an implementation of the mechanism by a Swiss engineer by the name of Gefner.
Essentially what you have is the remontoir spring, the escapement wheel with a triangular ruby cam — crafted by hand — and a three-arm stop wheel co-axially mounted. The three-arm stop wheel is directly what provides for the dead seconds display on the front of the watch. Next to the escapement assembly is an anchor and locking fork, which works in conjunction with the three-arm stop wheel and ruby cam, respectively, to regulate the dissipation of energy from the fusée and chain mainspring assembly to the into the escapement wheel, which works with the escapement fork to provide impulse to the balance spring.
The overall mechanism is, no doubt, incredibly complicated. The Ferdinand Berthoud team has commented that in order for it to work at the levels of accuracy they demand of the regulation mechanism, the had to design their own balance wheel and spring from the ground up for the FB 2RE.
It’s, also, important to understand that the remontoir does not replicate the role of the fusée and chain, rather that it’s completely complementary to one another. The fusée and chain assembly maintains a constant rate of energy dissipation into the complete gear train. Whereas the remontoir regulates energy delivery to the balance wheel.
At the end of the day, what has to be appreciated about the Chronomètre FB 2RE is that the modern day brand, Ferdinand Berthoud has managed to create a timepiece that is seemingly a simple, time-only watch, brought to life by an exceedingly complicated movement with high chronometric ambitions, ever so elegantly executed.
The last thing that needs to be said is that, the impressive movement is not just for the sake of the wow-factor. Ferdinand Berthoud’s chronometric pursuit has resulted the watch being Officially chronometer-certified by the COSC. Thereby, doing the utmost justice to the legacy of the master watchmaker, Ferdinand Berthoud on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of his appointment as the Watchmaker to the King and Navy of France, in 1770.
Manual winding Calibre FB-RE.FC; hours, minutes and direct drive center seconds; power reserve display; time-setting with stop-seconds device on the balance; constant force with fusee-and-chain transmission and remontoir d’égalité co-axially mounted with escapement wheel; COSC certified; 50-hour power reserve
44mm case in white gold (ref. FB 2RE.1) or rose gold (ref. FB 2RE.2); 14.30mm thick; water-resistant to 30m
Hand-sewn leather strap with matching gold pin buckle; double-blade length-adjustable folding clasp available on request; various sizes available on request
Limited release of 10 pieces in each precious metal