Check out our First Look video of the Oeuvre d’Or collection here.
For 2019, Ferdinand Berthoud is unveiling the Ouevre d’Or collection, going back to its premier model, the Chronomètre FB 1, but with an elegant twist. The two new additions use the same original movement of the Chronométrie FB 1, while adding beautiful and exclusive decorations that take the watches to another level.
The FB 1 was the inaugural watch for the brand when it first launched in Baselworld in 2015, which quickly garnered praise for staying true to the DNA of its inspiration: the creations of the legendary chronometer maker Ferdinand Berthoud (1727-1807).
The original Chronométrie FB 1
The first creation from Ferdinand Berthoud, the FB 1 is inspired by the architecture of the marine chronometers designed by Ferdinand Berthoud the man from around 1760. Records showed that on December 13th, 1760, Berthoud submitted his Mémoire sur les principes de construction d’une Horloge de Marine (The Principles of Building a Marine Clock) to the French Académie des Sciences. The representative at SIHH jokingly refers to this document as the “Watchmaking Guide for Dummies.” But it was this document, and the description of the construction principles for a marine clock in it, that lay the very foundation for Berthoud’s marine chronometer in 1761. And with it, Berthoud continued to improve his marine clocks to the highest possible chronometric precision.
This legendary story greatly inspired Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, who took on the revival of the brand in 2015. For more on its debut and the fantastic pillar-type movement in Schefele’s own words, click here.
The 2015 model came out in two gold versions: white gold with titanium lugs (FB 1.1) and rose gold with black ceramic lugs (FB 1.2). The new additions reprise the precious metals of their predecessors, the FB 1.1-2 is in white gold, while FB 1.2-1 is the rose gold version.
Basically the same FB 1 as we know and love, what makes the 2019 editions special are the exclusive decorations and amazing new finishes on both the dial and caseback. The two new editions are both limited to five pieces each.
Hand-Engraved Patinated Gold Dial
The new watches come with several new finishes, the first of which appears on the dial side: a hand-engraved patinated gold dial. The distinctive design of the FB 1, with the pillar-type movement set in the middle, leaves the rest of the watch face rather clean, a perfect blank canvas on which craftsmen at the manufacture in Fleurier could express freely. A hand-crafted patina finish was chosen. Using gold finely grained with a graver, the surface is crafted using a tool called a “rocker” to make a shimmering moiré pattern, which also recalls the natural patina on the dial of the astronomical pocket watch No. 3 that inspired the original FB 1.
The FB 1.1-2 is further adorned with manual engravings that make each piece unique: “Ferdinand Berthoud – Chronométre – Val-de-Travers – Suisse,” followed by the individual limited edition number. The words indicating the power reserve of the movement are also hand-engraved on the dial. “Haut” and “Bas”, high and low.
On the caseback of the new editions, we find another style of original finishing, a pyramid motif decoration that adorns the entire surface of its three half-bridges. A true work of mastery, the material is cut free-hand using a graver. The pyramid decoration is inspired by the base of another clock by Ferdinand Berthoud, kept at the L.U.CEUM in Fleurier.
18K gold cartouches bearing an inscription “Ferdinand Berthoud, Chronométre Suisse 45 Rubis” also lend another dimension to the back of the timepiece, and marks the first time the company has used invisibly-screwed cartouches.
Gem-Setting on the Case
That’s not all, folks! The sides of the white gold FB 1.1-2 and the rose-gold FB 1.2-2 are gem-set with baguette-cut diamonds. You can find the diamonds on either side of the crown, alongside the engraving of the limited edition number facing 9 o’clock. While the stones replace the sapphire crystals that historically revealed the key movement components, they add a little something extra to the timepiece. The choice of baguette-diamonds is not random, but rather, a thoughtful decision to give a subtle nod to the pillar-type construction of the movement within.
It took more than 140 hours to decorate the watch by hand. But not only that, the team took extra steps to ensure that the tools they used are traditional ones used in the 18th century. Ferdinand Berthoud named the new collection Ouevre d’Or, masterpieces of gold. From what we see, the FB 1.1-2 and the FB 1.2-2 are definitely that.