Although he doesn’t have the name recognition of 19th century master watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, the 18th century scientist Ferdinand Berthoud was a horological force of nature. After building a series of marine chronometers praised for their precision and reliability at sea, he was awarded the title of “Clockmaker and Mechanic by appointment to the French King and Navy” in 1770, under Louis XV.
To mark the 250th anniversary of that milestone, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, the boutique Swiss brand founded by Chopard co-president Karl Friedrich Scheufele in 2015, has created a limited-edition model that faithfully translates its namesake’s Marine Clock No. 6 into wristwatch form.
Endowed with a new movement containing a remontoire (known in French as a remontoir d’egalité), a device that provides constant force to the escapement, the Chronomètre FB 2RE comes in two versions, an 18-karat white gold version with a white enamel dial and an 18-karat rose gold version with a black enamel dial. Both marry elements of watchmaking that date from the birth of chronometry to the present day in a feat of horology sure to excite collectors with a love for traditional timekeeping.
Consider the watch’s 44 mm round case, made of ethically sourced gold: It mimics the modular construction of Berthoud’s Marine Clocks. Then look to its two-tiered dial with its differing graduations, featuring Roman numerals to indicate the hours and Arabic numerals to indicate the minutes, against a backdrop of grand feu enamel.
For all its surface elegance, the FB 2RE is powered by a manual-winding movement, thecalibre, with a unique architecture brimming with 1,200 components, including 790 that make up the chain portion of its fusee and chain transmission, a mid-18th century innovation that ensures constant force to the escapement. The one-second remontoire is visible on the back of the movement, which provides 50 hours of power reserve.
And we haven’t even started on the finishing! Not only has the arrow-shaped steel balance bridge been mirror polished and the barrel and fusee, along with all 790 components of the chain, satin-brushed, but also all the movement parts are hand-chamfered and beveled with traditional tools by artisans using a 6.7x magnifying glass. “At such a level, no detail, however tiny, can go unnoticed,” according to a brand statement.
Both the 18-karat white gold edition of the model, FB 2RE.1 and the 18-karat rose gold edition, FB 2RE.2, retail for around £168,000. Each is available in a limited edition of 10 pieces.