Unveiling Chronomètre FERDINAND BERTHOUD FB 1
“The caracteristic of a fusee is to help maintaining an even action of the spring on the gear train thanks to the changing size of the radius building the spiral.”1
Stemming from a reflective process undertaken in tribute to the horological genius of Ferdinand Berthoud, the new timepiece from Chronométrie FERDINAND BERTHOUD embodies a modern vision of the creations that the master might create if he were still living today. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, President of the Chronométrie FERDINAND BERTHOUD, wanted this exceptional new timepiece to represent a continuation of the work of the master chronometer-maker. This was to be done by adopting a contemporary approach guided by the same innovative spirit, while drawing inspiration from the marine chronometers created by the master watchmaker. Housed in an imposing octagonal case with watertight portholes, the new Chronomètre FERDINAND BERTHOUD FB 1 is equipped with an original mechanical hand-wound movement comprising more than 1,120 components. Entirely independently conceived, developed and produced by the Chronométrie FERDINAND BERTHOUD in Fleurier, the FB-T.FC calibre features a tourbillon with central seconds, a distinctive pillar-type architecture, an innovative suspended fusée – chain regulating system and a mobile cone indicating power-reserve. Patents have been filed for each of these features.
Calibre FB-T.FC: a movement housing unprecedented mechanisms
The new FERDINAND BERTHOUD Tourbillon Fusée – Chain chronometer is powered by an exclusive hand-wound movement entirely designed, developed and produced by Chronométrie FERDINAND BERTHOUD. Calibre FB-T.FC is distinguished by a striking pillar-type architecture typical of the marine chronometers created by the master-watchmaker in the 18th century. Equipped with a remarkable low-frequency (3 Hz) tourbillon with central seconds, this exceptional movement also features a constant-force regulating device with suspended fusée – chain transmission, a differential-based winding system, as well as a highly specific power-reserve mechanism called a “suspended mobile cone”. The result of almost three years of research and development, culminating in cutting-edge reliability tests, Calibre FB-T.FC delivers exceptional precision and rating regularity duly certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), along with 53 hours of autonomy and optimal readability of its hours, minutes, seconds and power-reserve functions. Inspired by Berthoud regulator-type clocks, the particularly slim, long spokes of the gear wheels are decorated with meticulous care. Patiently finished with a circular brush, bevelled and countersunk, they subtly reflect light onto the pinions. Patents have been filed for several of the unprecedented mechanisms composing this new calibre.
Window onto an exceptional horological accomplishment
The unique architecture of the FB-T.FC calibre highlights a fascinating play on the symmetry between the barrel, the fusée and the tourbillon, visible through the generously open back of the octagonal case. Fitted on gear wheels with tapering spokes and supported by stylised pillars, the barrel, fusée and tourbillon appear to be suspended in mid-air, thereby creating an airy, light feel. The polished titanium pillars securing the bridges to the mainplate generate a space that draws light to the heart of the movement and reinforces the pure nature of this exceptional construction comprising more than 1,120 components within a 35.50 mm diameter and a modest 8 mm thickness. The entirely hand-decorated half-bridges are satin-finished and bevelled with straight-grained flanks, while the jewels are set in finely polished and chamfered chatons.
The face of precision
Focusing firmly on time read-off and the display of its precise measurement, the dial of the Chronomètre FERDINAND BERTHOUD FB 1 is as understated in its appearance as it is technically complex to produce. The off-set hours and minutes tick by on a white-lacquered subdial at 12 o’clock. Standing out against a black satin-brushed or ruthenium background depending on the case material, the seconds scale appears on a matt translucent sapphire surrounding the dial. In the centre, an opening with carefully chamfered contours reveals the seconds wheel-and-pinion and the driving wheel of the tourbillon carriage – each turning in the opposite direction to the other. Meanwhile, the movement power reserve is indicated on a scale directly engraved on the mainplate and shown at the heart of a 9 o’clock counter. Its degree of autonomy is signalled by an arrow pointing to the words “Haut” or “Bas” – the French terms for high and low written in the native language of Ferdinand Berthoud. Alongside the confirmation of “Chronometer” certification appearing at the bottom of the dial, the inscriptions “Val-de-Travers” and “Switzerland” underscore the hand-crafted nature of this precious timepiece entirely developed in the birthplace of the master-watchmaker.
The refinement of an authentic chronometer
Meticulous care has been lavished on the execution of the hands, inspired by the characteristic shapes of creations bearing the Ferdinand Berthoud signature. The understated lines and contemporary refinement of the Ferdinand Berthoud chronometer extend right the way through to the hand-sewn rolled-edge alligator leather strap.
1 Ferdinand Berthoud, Essai sur l’horlogerie, Paris, 1763, chapitre XXVI, article 449.