Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon
The new Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon showcases the Maison’s legendary technical prowess and penchant for peerless finishing. However, unlike its forebears, this latest creation is overtly contemporary and sporty. Angus Davies looks closely at this new model, pointing out each aspect of its exalted specification.
Many moons ago, in my youth, I usually wore my obligatory school uniform or modest casual clothes when ‘playing out’ with my friends. However, on the Sabbath, I would don my ‘Sunday best’. This usually comprised of a shirt and tie, a generously sized sports jacket, with plenty of growing room, smart trousers and a pair of formal shoes, rich with the aroma of shoe polish.
Later in life, embarking on a new career, having just left full-time education, I procured a suit for work and, shortly thereafter, another. No longer was my sartorial resplendence limited to merely Sundays, I was now a dapper chap on weekdays too.
With increased prosperity, the cut and style of my clothes improved. However, there came a point when I wanted my casual garments to match the quality of my formal wear. I craved shirts and jeans endowed with neat seams, perfect stitching and timeless styling. Once I had found a suitable retailer, I became a regular client and could be frequently seen walking along the high street, lugging bags, packed with stylish creations. At this juncture, I had discovered sporty, casual clothes that were beautifully made and matched the quality and merit of my formal wear.
Setting aside formality for a sporty, casual look
Laurent Ferrier, the esteemed Genevan watch brand, dwells in the rarefied heights of haute horlogerie. Every mechanical creation is free of compromise, rich in mechanical virtue and finished to an exacting standard. Personally, I have always found the styling of each Laurent Ferrier model to be exquisite. There are no ‘ugly ducklings’, each reference is the result of protracted thought and a well-developed understanding of lines and proportions.
Over the years, Laurent Ferrier has become known for making elegant, classical timepieces. In some respects, they are the horological equivalent of formal wear. However, the venerated Maison has recently unveiled the Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon, the brand’s first model equipped with an integrated stainless steel bracelet. Its styling is contemporary, sporty and a tad more relaxed. Indeed, this is a watch perfectly suited to an informal, convivial gathering. But, despite the more casual appearance of this timepiece, it upholds the brand’s revered horological rectitude.
While the Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon features Breguet’s legendary whirlwind, the Genevan brand does not feel a compunction to present it dial-side. The movement is equipped with a tourbillon for its primary purpose, namely to augment precision. The tourbillon is visible solely via the sapphire case back, providing an uncluttered dial and thereby, aiding readability.
The opaline dial transitions from a rich blue tone at its centre to a deep shade of black near its edge. White gold lachrymose indexes in various sizes guide onlookers to the fulcrum of the dial and the hour and minute indications. Both the hour and minute hands, as well as the indexes, are lined with bright orange Super-LumiNova.
A small seconds display sits at the base of the dial. It features subtle, softly-spoken snailing. Pale blue cross hairs quarter the dial, while the model’s nomen is presented in ultra-fine, understated text.
When appraising the dial of the Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon, words such as ‘subtle’ and ‘understated’ readily come to mind. Tone-on-tone detail, light snailing and finely drawn markings hugging the periphery of the dial, sit deferentially against the conspicuously-hued hands and indexes. Every aspect of this dial composition is designed to efficiently articulate the prevailing time. However, while the dial is eminently practical it is also extraordinarily attractive.
The Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon is housed in a 44mm stainless steel case. Once again, refinement is the order of the day with most surfaces featuring circular satin-finished elements. The bezel is cushion-shaped with ‘contrasting mirror-polished flanks’. The prestigious Maison has juxtaposed the barrel-shaped case middle with the aforementioned cushion-shaped bezel, delivering an alluring contrast, free of dissonance.
Most horophiles are accustomed to seeing Laurent Ferrier timepieces paired with a variety of sumptuous straps, often lined with Alcantara. However, as previously mentioned, this latest model breaks with convention as it is the first Laurent Ferrier watch to feature a fully integrated stainless steel bracelet. ‘The central row of the 3-rows design is comprised of vertical satin finished links. The rounded edges of the links are presented in a contrasting mirror-polish’. On some watches, the bracelet appears to be an afterthought. However, with this model, the protracted distillation of each bracelet component suggests that from the outset, it was a core element of the overall design.
The sapphire crystal is tinted and has a gently arcing profile, granting a rounded appearance when viewed from the side. The subtle onion-shape crown, features a prominent grip and nestles between the shoulders of a discreet crown protector.
At the heart of the Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon is a hand-wound movement featuring a tourbillon and double balance spring. This movement first appeared in the firm’s Classic Tourbillon, a model which won the ‘Best Men’s Watch Award’ at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix (GPHG) in 2010.
In this instance, the movement sports a contemporary finish, but with all of the goodness of the original calibre retained for the delectation of purists.
Some consumers appear to forget the rationale for having a tourbillon escapement, viewing it merely as a means of flaunting wealth. The device was invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet and subsequently patented in 1801. It countered the adverse influence of gravity on the regulating organ within a pocket watch whilst held in a vertical position. Laurent Ferrier has cleverly equipped the balance with two reverse-fitted balance springs, causing the lateral displacement of the balance axis to be neutralised. By integrating both a tourbillon and double balance spring and combining their respective benefits, the movement confers superb precision, culminating in the award of chronometer certification.
Close examination of the movement via the sapphire case back reveals peerless finishing. Laurent Ferrier and François Servanin, the two founders of the company, were formerly racing drivers, enjoying success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on several occasions. The case back is affixed with bolts ‘akin to those used in motorsport’. The movement features the firm’s long-blade-type ratchet pawl system. Beyond its handsome appearance, this system also confers a smile-inducing click when the watch is wound.
Image – Laurent Ferrier
Laurent Ferrier has also embellished the movement with a combination of a horizontal satin-brushed finish and ruthenium treatment. The tourbillon carriage bridge has been decorated by hand. Moreover, mirror polishing, along with 30 hand-crafted interior angles, should sate the desires of the most discerning horophiles.
When presented with a Laurent Ferrier timepiece, I would counsel that due reverence should be shown. Indeed, I would advocate the washing of hands beforehand and wearing a pair of surgical gloves prior to touching one of the firm’s pristine creations. This is not to say they are fragile, but such is the magnificence of the Maison’s watches, with each surface refined to the nth degree, they deserve to be respected.
The dial lucidly conveys with the wearer, presenting the essentials of time free of superfluous detail. Both the case and integrated stainless steel bracelet are designed to grant high levels of wearer comfort. However, beyond the functionality of the case and dial, and the ease with which they fulfil their duties, they also exhibit a prepossessing appearance that is clear to see.
The movement is suffused with an eye-catching, modern ruthenium treatment. However, do not misconstrue, this model, like its siblings, harnesses traditional craftsmanship. The movement’s flawless finishing is the pleasing outcome of adroit hands, patiently manipulating tools to glorious effect.
Beyond the aesthetic charm of the movement, is a no-compromise specification that from the outset was designed to deliver precision. Indeed, the watch has been subjected to the scrutiny of the Besançon observatory culminating in the award of chronometer certification.
A reoccurring theme with this watch is that it combines superb functionality with an abundance of aesthetic charm.
I suspect that existing Laurent Ferrier customers have worn their classical, formal watches at all times, unwilling to countenance the idea of wearing an inferior timepiece from a rival brand. With the advent of the Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon, the Maison offers a sporty, contemporary, dare I say ‘casual’ watch crafted to the brand’s elevated standards. Indeed, the brand now offers refined timepieces perfectly complementing any sartorial ensemble, whether formal or casual.
- Model: Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon
- Reference: LCF041.2.AC.C1G0
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 44mm; water resistance 10ATM (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front; sapphire case back.
- Functions: hours; minutes; small seconds; tourbillon
- Movement: Hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3Hz); 23 jewels; power reserve 80 hours; 188 components.
- Strap: Stainless steel integrated bracelet with 3 links
- Price: 172,000 CHF excluding taxes (RRP as at 29.4.2020)
- Limited Edition: 12 pieces