Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece pairs a much coveted complication with a wonderfully understated appearance. Angus Davies waxes lyrical about this horological thoroughbred.
This detailed review of the Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece includes live images, specification details and pricing.
Often in life, the word ‘complication’ signifies an obstacle or a problem. Its meaning has negative connotations. However, in the world of horology, a ‘complication’ is a desirable attribute. It describes an additional function found on a timepiece over and above imparting the hours and minutes. Regular readers of ESCAPEMENT will be familiar with chronographs, GMTs, annual calendars and tourbillons, to name but a few complications. Arguably the pinnacle of all complications is the minute repeater.
The minute repeater typically contains two pieces of steel spaced apart, encircling the movement. These are referred to as gongs. By striking the gongs with a pair of hammers, the watch emits a series of sounds, signifying the hours, quarters and minutes. The sweetest sounding minute repeaters produce an audible sound with a mellifluous quality.
Consideration is given to the weight and position of each hammer. Each gong is tuned to match a predetermined note. This involves filing the gongs to achieve the perfect sound. However, great care has to be exercised to prevent too much material being removed from the gongs. An overzealous use of the file could result in a gong being consigned to the waste bin and numerous hours of work being lost.
A minute repeater is incredibly complicated. Once summoned to perform, with a slide of a lever on the case-band, it must precisely chime the time in the correct sequence i.e. hours, minutes and seconds. Furthermore, the movement must know how many strikes each gong must perform. The incredible complexity of a minute repeater is usually reflected in its price.
Laurent Ferrier, the high-end Maison based in Plan Les Ouates, Switzerland, creates watches of the finest order. Over the years, it has produced many timepieces from comparatively simple time only watches to impressive tourbillons. However, one thing common to all of this company’s watches, is the peerless finishing. Now, Laurent Ferrier has released a new timepiece pairing the wonder of a minute repeater with the breathtaking finishing for which the brand is renown. The Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece is a hand-wound timepiece, presented in a steel case and endowed with a 6N red gold colour dial.
A key attribute of Laurent Ferrier timepieces is their subtle, understated style. There is nothing gauche or outré. The ‘Assegai-shaped’ hour and minutes hands are formed in 18-carat white gold and feature sinuous lines. These hands exhibit wonderful poise and communicate the prevailing time with superb clarity. Each hour is indicated with a triangular white gold baton.
The small seconds are presented on a recessed, snailed subdial. A baton-shaped hand circumscribes this subdial and deftly communicates with the wearer.
The aforementioned 6N red gold colour dial is adorned with a vertical satin-brushed finish which toys wonderfully with the light. Furthermore, the domed sapphire crystal accentuates the changing tones of the dial.
Laurent Ferrier is a modest brand. The words ‘Repetition Minute’ are positioned above the small seconds display. These words are barely visible, reinforcing the brand’s understated approach to marketing.
The case is formed of stainless steel eschewing noble metals. This may, on the face of it, seem surprising, however, there is a good reason for this choice of metal. Stainless steel is arguably one of the best materials for accentuating the sound of the hammers striking the gongs. Furthermore, the choice of material seems ideal for this understated watch.
The ‘School Piece’ case is Laurent Ferrier parlance for a round case. Personally, I prefer the company’s galet-shaped case (pebble-shaped). However, the rationale for a round case is that it emphasises the sound of the striking mechanism.
Measuring 40mm in diameter, the Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece is restrained in size and should suit most wrists. The domed sapphire crystals accentuate the depth of this watch which is 14.20mm in height.
A sign of a true luxury product is that it demonstrates due consideration to the minutiae. The ‘ball-shaped’ crown is a perfect illustration of this. It is not only very attractive but ergonomically shaped, facilitating facilitate ease of manipulation.
The hand-wound caliber LF707.01 is composed of 300 components, including 32 jewels. The main-plate is adorned with perlage and the bridges are decorated with matchless Côtes de Genève motif and golden engraved text.
The anglage is magnificent with the bevels shining resplendently. Of particular note are the internal angles near the hammers. They stand testament to an artisan’s adroit use of tools. Numerous components are mirror-polished.
Circular grained wheels, polished jewel and screw sinks are further illustrations of no-compromise finishing.
Each note ‘is calibrated using a xylophone: D sharp for the hours, F sharp for the minutes, together sounding a major third interval’. Having witnessed the sound first hand, I can attest it is wonderful, especially when the watch is placed upon a wooden surface.
The frequency of the balance is 21,600 VpH (3Hz) and the power reserve is sufficient to confer 80 hours of autonomy.
Laurent Ferrier equips its watches with gorgeous dials. Quite often the Maison embraces distinctive hues which confer a high quotient of individuality. The dial of the Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece proves to be no exception. The 6N red gold colour dial appears almost copper in some light conditions and then when viewed from another angle it seems much paler. The discreet vertical satin-brushed dial treatment is subtle.
‘Subtle’ is a word which frequently comes to mind when describing the Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece. The hour and minute hands are elegant, understated and capably convey meaning in a clear manner. The small seconds display employs differing depths and texture to bestow an attractive aesthetic.
The 40mm stainless steel case is not only handsome but augments the quality of the sound. The modest case diameter should prove universally appealing.
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece is a fine example of haute horlogerie. The movement finishing is superb and the sound emitted by the ensemble of hammers and gongs is sublime. Indeed, in this instance, ‘complication’ does not signify any problem, it indicates a degree of excellence any self-respecting connoisseur will be sure to appreciate.
- Model: Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 40mm; height 14.20mm; sapphire crystal to front and solid case-back; not water resistant
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; minute repeater
- Movement: Caliber LF707.01; hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3Hz); 32 jewels; power reserve 80 hours
- Strap: Brown alligator leather with Alcantara lining paired with a pin buckle or double blade folding clasp.
- Price: CHF 290,000 (RRP as at 22.5.2018)