A COMPENDIUM OF HOROLOGICAL AND MARITIME HISTORY
The 1785 edition is a series of five unique interpretations of the FB 1R chronometer, all crafted from bronze with a different artistic patina. These timepieces honour the most important expedition in French naval history, that of the Astrolabe and Boussole frigates. Commanded by the Count of Lapérouse, they had sailed with five Marine Chronometers on board, made by Ferdinand Berthoud.
The case of the Edition 1785 is built according to a distinctive architecture inspired both by the Marine Clocks of Ferdinand Berthoud and by their gimbal suspension system typical of onboard chronometers.
The FB 1R chronometers in the 1785 edition measure 44 mm in diameter and less than 14 mm thick. The beadblasted case is entirely made of bronze, an alloy chosen for its capacity to acquire a distinctive patina. The five regulator models, numbered Fb 1R.5-1 and FB 1R.5-5, all feature a different colour, directly inspired by the sextant made by Mercier and found in 2005 close to the Boussole shipwreck. This is because each of the de facto unique patinas of these models has been made using a distinct formula, chosen after dozens of trials and tests. The aim was to achieve the desired shades while ensuring their dermo-compatibility in compliance with the REACH regulations of the European Union.
The case features two bronze side shafts in bronze that endow it with a characteristic octagonal shape. The sides bear two portholes at 2 and 11 o’clock, providing a chance to admire the fusee and chain mechanism in action. These two openings are complemented by the glareproofed sapphire crystal case-back affording a pleasing glimpse of the movement finishing. The knurled bronze crown featuring a titanium medallion ensures smooth and easy winding of the movement. The latter is endowed with a 53-hour power reserve.
The construction of the 1785 edition sets it apart from all existing regulator-type displays and has a mostly solid dial.
The latter is made of nickel silver, vertically satin-brushed by hand, and feature three small openings. The first provides a reading of the dragging hours, offset at 2 o’clock. They are displayed on a glareproofed sapphire disc with transfer-printed Arabic numerals, which stand out clearly against the white background. The second reveals an unusual power-reserve display mechanism, highlighted by a wide dial cut-out showing part of the finely sandblasted baseplate.
The third opening is located in the centre of the 12 o’clock minutes counter. Finely chamfered, beadblasted and adorned with gilded chamfers, the central opening provides a fascinating view of the gear train with its hand-engraved pyramid-motif decoration. The latter is inspired by that of a skeletonised astronomical clock by Ferdinand Berthoud that belongs to the L.U.CEUM collection. The seconds appear around the rim of the dial, on a beadblasted and chamfered nickel silver inner bezel ring.
Finally, the nature and origin of the chronometers composing the 1785 edition are flaunted on the large dial, engraved with the inscription “Chronomètre Val-de-Travers Suisses”. More than a mere signature or an appellation of origin, this is a proudly proclaimed affirmation of identity.
The design of the hands on the Edition 1785 is a reinterpretation of various hand shapes used by Ferdinand Berthoud in his numerous timepieces.
Their complex and original shapes mean that great expertise is required to make them. The minutes hand is crafted in 18-carat gold, while the seconds hand is made of bronze and the fixed hour-markers and power reserve hand are made of steel.
The dagger-shaped hours and minutes hands are finely cut out and facet-polished. The power-reserve indicator features a curved triangular tip, while the slim direct-drive sweep-seconds hand cambered at its far end is fitted with a round counterweight typical of Berthoud regulators.
The straps of the Edition 1785 are made in an artisanal manner and hand-sewn from top-quality leather.
These distinctively designed double rolled-edge straps are exceptionally supple yet sturdy thanks to the traditional tanning methods used in preparing the hides and are equipped with an exclusive 20 mm pin buckle.
A slender, finely structured movement.
The FB-T.FC.R calibre is built according to a unique architectural concept. This hand-wound movement features 18 nickel silver bridges framed by polished titanium pillars surrounding the mechanical organs. This construction is typical of 18th century marine chronometers. The architectural approach is picked up in the design of all the components, and especially in the symmetrical equilibrium of the movement.
The distinctive nature of the FB-T.FC.R calibre lies in its inverted upside-down barrel and fusee, and particularly in the fact that both elements are suspended, meaning held on only one side. A patent has been filed for this construction which saves precious millimetres. At 9.89 mm thick, the movement of the Edition 1785 thus remains extremely thin for its category despite the regulator-type display and the new power-reserve indication.
The original fusée and chain mechanism developed by the engineers of Chronométrie FERDINAND BERTHOUD occupies an exceptionally small space within the movement thanks to its “suspended” construction.
The barrel and fusée of Calibre FB-T.FC.R are linked by a chain comprising no less than 474 steel links, including more than 300 pins measuring barely 0.30 mm in diameter and all hand-assembled. The chain measures a total 28 cm long and the maximum tension exercised upon it once in place amounts to three kilos.
When the mainspring is associated with a fusée, the barrel drum turns in one direction when the spring winds down and in the opposite direction when it is wound up, thus causing the chain to wrap around the drum. A distinctive feature of Calibre FB-T.FC.R lies in the fact that its fusée mechanism has been equipped with an unusually designed differential gear.
Calibre FB-T.FC.R is equipped with a specific system displaying the movement’s power reserve.
A patent has been filed for the extremely sophisticated power-reserve indication mechanism. Visible through a cut-out in the half-bridge on the case-back side, a truncated cone moves up and down along an arbor connected to the barrel. This suspended cone is topped by a feeler spindle in the form of a mobile arm tipped with a watch jewel. The latter’s position on the cone reflects the barrel’s state of wind.
The feeler spindle in turn transmits the quantity of energy accumulated by the mainspring to a set of finely chamfered and rhodium-plated flat levers visible through a cut-out in the regulator plate. Its role is to amplify the displacement of the power-reserve hand. A spiral spring placed at the far end of its travel exercises a force on the base of the power-reserve hand. This spring serves to compensate for the play between the various components of this mechanism and to display the power reserve with peerless precision.
Tourbillon with central seconds.
Teamed with the fourth (seconds) wheel and pinion, the tourbillon of Calibre FB-T.FC-R comprises 67 components assembled within a titanium carriage measuring 16.55 mm in diameter, and fixed to a perfectly hand-polished and chamfered arrow-shaped steel arch whose tip points towards the space between the barrel and the fusee. To poise the escapement’s unbalance, two 18-carat gold inertia-blocks ensure the uniform spread of the weights of this large-size tourbillon. This tourbillon contributes to earning Calibre FB-T.FC.R its chronometer title awarded by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). One particular characteristic makes the tourbillon extremely distinctive: although it performs one rotation per minute, it does not indicate the seconds, since the Edition 1785 is one of the rare tourbillons to have a central sweep-seconds hand. Extremely long, slim and made of blued bronze, the latter moves with remarkable accuracy and in a remarkable stable manner.
• Mechanical hand-wound Calibre FB-T.FC.R
• 15 ¾ lignes (diameter 35.50 mm – thickness 9.89 mm)
• 49 jewels
• Indications of the hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve
• Suspended fusée and chain constant-force transmission regulation
• 3 Hz low-frequency tourbillon with direct-drive seconds
• 53-hour power reserve
• Movement precision and rate accuracy certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute
• Octagonal case fitted with two (2) lateral portholes in glareproofed sapphire crystal providing a chance to admire parts of the movement
• Domed, arched and glareproofed sapphire crystal
• Screw-in case-back with glareproofed sapphire crystal
• Crown in patinated bronze with beadblasted titanium medallion
• Case in patinated bronze
• Diameter 44.00 mm, thickness 13.95 mm
• Water-resistant to 30 metres
• Unique piece
• Regulator plate (dial) in natural nickel silver, satin-brushed by hand
• Hours indication on a sapphire disc at 2 o’clock
• Minutes subdial at 12 o’clock, cut-out, bead-blasted, gilded chamfers and bearing black Arabic numerals
• Flat seconds inner bezel ring, in bead-blasted natural nickel silver
• Power-reserve indication at 10 o’clock engraved on the regulator plate “0-1”
• Hand-sewn rolled-edge double-sided alligator leather
• Titanium pin buckle