With its original regulator-type display and its ultra-resistant carburised stainless steel case, the Chronomètre FB-1R.6-1 enriches the Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud collection. This new presentation radically transforms an exceptional timepiece whose complications, together with the quality of its construction and production, remain true to their underlying philosophy. Its FB-T.FC.R tourbillon calibre with fusee-and-chain transmission can be admired through a sapphire crystal case-back and two lateral portholes, offering a unique view inside this outstanding chronometer.
Like the previous editions of the Chronomètre FB 1, its movement is equipped with horological complications inspired by the scientific instruments represented by Ferdinand Berthoud’s marine chronometers. The appearance of the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1R.7-1 takes its cues from the Marine Chronometer No. 7. The philosophy upheld by Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud involves transposing into contemporary language the pursuit of excellence undertaken by the master horologist appointed Clockmaker to the French King and Navy. A rare and unusual-looking timepiece, the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1R.6-1 is a comprehensive horological work, issued in a 20-piece limited edition intended for discerning and passionate collectors.
A Philosophical Approach
The different versions of the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1 stem from an innovative horological approach. The design, movement, finishing and everything composing this chronometer with tourbillon and constant force are highly specific and reflect an uncompromising commitment to excellence. Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud is driven by the vision of its president, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. The latter has patiently built up an important collection of objects relating to time measurement within the L.U.CEUM museum in Fleurier, including a number of works by Ferdinand Berthoud.
In paying worthy tribute to this native of the Val-de-Travers, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud has a dedicated team, a specific development process and authentic expertise in a wide range of skills. In the case of the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1R.6-1, the inspiration stems directly from Ferdinand Berthoud’s research on his Marine Chronometer no. 7. The latter housed a number of solutions that improved the operating principles of its longitude watches. Among them was its display that differed from the usual rules governing regulators – which assign a different place on the dial to the hours, minutes and seconds displays – by the use of a large central seconds hand.
An Evolving Case
The Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1R.6-1 adds some unusual details and a unique presentation to the aesthetic and technical characteristics of the previous versions. It is still a 44 mm-diameter watch, featuring a less than 14 mm-thick case that sits naturally and comfortably on the wrist. It is composed of a steel cylinder housing the movement. The molecular structure of this steel has been reinforced by a thermo-chemical process involving the diffusion of vapour-phase carbon, thereby guaranteeing an exceptional surface hardness of 1200 Vickers and making it extremely robust. It is also exceptionally corrosion-resistant and biocompatible.
The case features two octagonal-shaped stainless steel side pieces, giving it a characteristic shape including two lateral portholes at 2 and 11 o’clock – providing a chance to admire the chain-and-fusee mechanism in action. These two openings are complemented by a screw-down stainless steel case-back fitted with glare-proofed sapphire crystal enabling observers to appreciate the high-quality finishing lavished on the FB-T.FC-R movement.
The knurled 9mm-diameter stainless steel crown bearing a black ceramic medallion ensures smooth winding of the movement endowed with a 53-hour power reserve.
An Exceptional Regulator
The novel construction of the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud IR.6-1 sets it apart from all existing regulator-type displays. Instead of featuring a high-up opening providing a view of the tourbillon and the fourth wheel (driving the seconds) as on previous versions, the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1R.6-1 has a mostly solid dial. The latter is in fact the rear side of the complication plate that provides the regulator-type display.
It is made of nickel silver, vertically satin-brushed by hand and black rhodium-plated. Of the three small apertures, the first serves to show the hours, offset at 2 o’clock and appearing on a glare-proofed sapphire crystal disc bearing transferred Arabic numerals striking a pleasing contrast with a white background. The second opening features an original power-reserve display mechanism, distinguished by a large dial cut-out revealing part of the finely sandblasted and black rhodium-plated mainplate. Located in the centre of the finely chamfered, bead-blasted and black rhodium-plated minutes counter, the third aperture displays a hand-engraved “pyramid” motif inspired by an openworked Ferdinand Berthoud astronomical clock belonging to the L.U.CEUM collection.
Meanwhile, the seconds appear around the rim of the dial on a flat inner bezel ring made of black rhodium-plated, bead-blasted and chamfered nickel silver.
Finally, the nature and provenance of the Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1R.6-1 can be read off on this large dial, engraved with the inscription “Chronomètre Val-de-Travers Suisse”. More than merely representing a signature or an appellation of origin, it proudly proclaims the model’s identity.