“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB RES

The new skeletonized Chronomètre FB RES revealed at Watches and Wonders 2024 celebrates the precision and exquisiteness of new age Ferdinand Berthoud manufacture’s second calibre.

It was almost 10 years ago, when I first held the debuting FB1 timepiece from Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s (Co-President of Chopard) revived Ferdinand Berthoud brand at the SalonQP watch exhibition in the Saatchi Gallery London. ‘Ferdinand Berthoud was my secret project. Our museum in Fleurier, the L.U.CEUM, has a dedicated thematic space for chronometers and I started to study the history of marine clocks. Beyond the works of Ferdinand Berthoud, I found his story particularly fascinating, including the fact that Berthoud was born in 1727 in Val-de-Travers – a few minutes away from Fleurier, home of the Chopard manufacture.’ – he noted back then. Mr. Scheufele’s ‘love-child’ commenced in great secrecy involving a handful of watchmakers from Chopard, who worked at Chopard during the day and dreamt the new Ferdinand Berthoud model after hours.

Looking at their story from the distance of a decade we can state, that their dedication has resulted in one of the most original designs and successful workshops. Throughout the journey the great predecessor remained an ideological and aesthetic comrade (and a Quality Assurance geist) as opposed to a rigid old master, whose spirit today probably rejoices at the designs and technical innovations the niche 21st century manufacture has come up with.

The small project ended up winning the hearts of many, including a stable client base, and not incidentally the juries of the GPHG many times already. GPHG awarded the ‘Aiguille d’Or’ Grand Prix to Ferdinand Berthoud for the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1 model in 2016. Then the company received the Chronometry Watch Prize for the Carburised steel regulator FB 1R.6-1 in 2019, the FB 2RE.2 in 2020 and Chronomètre FB 3SPC in 2023, and the Mechanical Exception Watch Prize for the FB 2RSM.2-1 in 2022.

The 2020 winner second movement came back this spring in a new edition. The particularity of the FB 2RE.2 calibre was that it introduced a two-level torque regulation ensuring a perfectly constant force impulse on the balance wheel for top precision. In order to achieve this, first Ferdinand Berthoud’s signature fuse-and-chain transmission was applied which equalises the force reaching the gear train through the variation of its diameter (level-1). Additionally, a one-second “remontoir d’égalité” device was implemented right before the force would reach the balance wheel in order to compensate for the low-magnitude torque variations the meshing teeth induce. Since it provides an impulse precisely in every second, watchmakers took the chance and displayed it as a large deadbeat jumping second hand by applying an intermediary wheel.

The face of the 2020 model had a solid grand feu enamel dial, which the 2024 model opens up for a glimpse on the gear train. The Chronomètre FB RES has a more technical design. The open-worked dial and especially the crystal case back reveals the outstanding beauty and the meticulous finishing of the components. Each wheel, bridge and screw is entirely hand-decorated, each edge is hand chamfered – and that’s two linear metres in a single timepiece!

The new model’s name FB RES comes from the in French for ‘Remontoir d’Égalité Squelette’, referring to the torque compensation device and the open-worked dial. The dial features a combination of bridges and main plate as well as a wide opening that stretches from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock. This opening reveals a construction with three bridges converging towards the dial centre. The geometry is inspired by a skeletonized table clock made by Ferdinand Berthoud circa 1775.

The bridges, main plate and even the case can be customized. Ferdinand Berthoud offers its more technical octagonal case, but clients may request the marine-clock inspired classical cylindrical container. In both cases, the material can be stainless-steel, titanium, ceramised titanium and 18k white, yellow, or rose gold. The over 200 customization options also include the colour of the inner bezel ring, the dial and the associated finishing (sandblasted or satin-brushed). The configurator is already available online at the following link.

Regardless of the case design, the back provides an undisturbed view on the Calibre FB-RES.FC, including the “remontoir d’égalité” at 6 o’clock. 

The number of movements will be limited to thirty-eight in total. 

Photo credits: Loupiosity.com
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