This watch by Laurent Ferrier was born from the idea of putting SuperLuminova on a watch to make it legible in the dark. Laurent Ferrier’s classically-inspired watches usually have very slim, elegant hands that would not be suitable for SuperLuminova, and so for this piece he redesigned the hands into a slightly broader configuration with central depressions that could be filled with luminescent coating, and thought carefully about the dial design. The result was inspired by car dashboard instruments, and by 1930s Art Deco watch design, and the result is undoubtedly modern, unlike anything else in the world of watchmaking.
Galet is French for pebble, and it is the word that Laurent Ferrier uses to describe his circular cases. In 2016, he presented the square version, Galet Square, in 41 x 41 mm size, 11.1 mm thick, with case in steel. The dial looks simple but has a lot of detail that contributes to the overall looks: vertical satin-brushed black galvanized dial, circular brushing (“snailed” finish) on the subdial for the seconds, and a grey minutes chapter ring right at the edge of the dial. The crown is oval-shaped, and Laurent Ferrier worked hard to ensure that the winding experience, that tactile experience of a large crown that delivers the sensation of a perfectly-calibrated ratchet, is as pleasurable as that in high-quality antique pocket watches.
Laurent Ferrier’s movement with natural escapement
The natural escapement is one of Laurent Ferrier’s hallmark features, a type of escapement invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1789, but applied to only a few watches by this master of classic watchmaking. The basic concept is to ensure a higher and more regular transmission of energy to the balance by giving it two impulses with each cycle – in a normal lever escapement, the balance receives an impulse just once every cycle. As a metaphor, a normal lever escapement is like a swing, that you push once every cycle, while the natural escapement would be like having two people on either side, each giving a push at each extremity. Breguet had problems with the system because in his day, it increased the friction of the escapement. Today, the use of silicon technology reduces friction and makes the natural escapement a feasible proposition, and its more regular transmission of energy reduces the total torque required from the mainspring. This in turn reduces the energy needed from the winding rotor, which can therefore be smaller and lighter.
This watch is fitted with the self-winding FBN 229.01 calibre, with 72 hours power reserve, and it is the second in-house movement by Laurent Ferrier after his double balance-spring tourbillon. The added complication of the natural escapement is shown by the number of jewels, 35, with 186 components. It runs at a frequency of 3 Hertz, 21,600 vibrations per hour. The sapphire caseback reveals the traditional finish, with Côtes de Genève on the bridges, bevelled wheel spokes, chamfered and polished screw-heads and hand-finished interior angles.
Reference and price
The Galet Square Boréal by Laurent Ferrier is reference LCF0013-AC, and costs 35,000 Swiss francs. The watch is available in two versions: with green SuperLuminova and slate grey leather/synthetic strap with green stitching, and with beige SuperLuminova and light brown barbialla calf strap, Alcantara lining and contrasting stitching. Each watch is made from start to finish by a single watchmaker.