More often than not, when a collector first acquires their long-awaited timepiece, their horological experience begins with the presentation box. For Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, the box is far more than a way of protecting the watch: each of its innumerable details reflects the manufacture’s ethos, in terms of both history and design.
A concerted commitment to eco-design
The presentation box is the key that opens up the whole watchmaking world of Ferdinand Berthoud. As such, it’s important for it to reflect our values. Its fine workmanship rests on the most ethical design possible.
The first sense to which this becomes apparent is touch: the walnut box has a natural matt, rather than gloss, finish. This style choice allows the owner to feel the rich grain of the wood, and dispenses with the need for glossy, lacquered varnishes, all of which – without exception – include toxic additives designed to thicken them and preserve their artificial sheen. Instead, the manufacture has chosen to use a natural, extra-thin coat of glaze exactly like those used in the food industry.
Traditional wood – an age-old source of inspiration
There’s nothing random about the type of wood chosen, either: walnut is what Ferdinand Berthoud himself selected, over two centuries ago, to preserve his marine clocks. His original cases have become extremely rare items: in the whole world, no more than a few have come down to us. One is in the possession of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud Museum, built for Chronometer No. XXX. It provided the inspiration for the current presentation box of the manufacture.
The box thus features metal fittings (handles and latch) and a glass window through which the timepiece itself can be viewed, equipped with a sliding cover enabling it to be revealed or concealed as the owner wishes. This ingenious device, dreamed up by Ferdinand Berthoud himself for sea chronometers, allowed the ship’s captain to read the time whilst sheltering the timekeeper from adverse weather conditions.
Each component of the box has been designed, cut out, polished, and assembled by hand. This level of care also explains its rarity: each presentation box is individually made to order after several weeks of design work. The solid wood construction results in a weight of 6.4 kg. No cases are made in advance. Each Ferdinand Berthoud chronometer is unique; so is its presentation box.
At the same time, the box can serve as much more than a display case for a timepiece. The manufacture has designed it in such a way that its entire contents can be removed, allowing it to be used for other purposes. The presentation cushion can be lifted out, leaving a travel case just 8 centimetres in diameter so that the Ferdinand Berthoud chronometer can fulfil its primary purpose: accompanying its owner on their journeys.
With the same aim of eco-design in mind, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud has kept the footprint of its presentation box as small as possible, too. In addition to being coated with natural glaze, the walnut used is FSC certified. The instructions for using the timepiece are no longer provided in hardcopy, printed out in multiple languages; instead, they come on a re-usable memory stick, specially designed by Ferdinand Berthoud in the form of a chain. Made from brushed steel and engraved with the initials ‘FB’, it is a faithful reproduction of the fusee and chain regulating mechanism to be found in contemporary Ferdinand Berthoud movements. The final accessory is a brushed steel magnifying glass, allowing the collector to appreciate the quality of the finish on their Ferdinand Berthoud timepiece.
The presentation box will enhance any bookcase or library; and like the timepiece it contains, it has been designed to weather the ages.