As a racecar driver in the 1970s, Laurent Ferrier loved all the mechanical theory and practice that made racing both technical and sporty. This week, his eponymous watchmaking brand has channeled that appreciation into the design of its Tourbillon Grand Sport, a new limited edition of twelve cushion-cased tourbillon watches.
As with a typical Formula One racecar, the new watch also places its engine within a sleek, beautifully engineered exterior. And, just as a driver would need to pop the hood of a racecar to eye the technology that drives it, the owner of the new Tourbillon Grand Sport will need to flip over this watch to enjoy Laurent Ferrier’s double balance-spring tourbillon in action.
Ferrier’s engine is a new manual-wind caliber with a design inspired by 19th century chronometry clocks and watches, which typically featured a long-blade-type ratchet pawl system.
The tourbillon-regulated caliber, which is chronometer-certified by the Besançon Observatory, has been given a horizontal satin-brushed finish with a touch of ruthenium (for a sporty finish). Ferrier has also given the tourbillon carriage bridge a superior finish, with hand-applied attention to thirty interior angles. If you’ve ever taken a loupe to any Laurent Ferrier movement, you’d quickly understand why so many collectors are enamored by the work done at his independent atelier.
Laurent Ferrier’s choice of a cushion-shaped bezel placed atop a modified tonneau central case is meant to echo the look of many sports watches of the 1970s, when Ferrier and his company co-founder François Servanin raced at 24 Hours of Lemans. Exactly forty years ago, in 1979, the pair raced together behind the wheel of a Porsche 935T and finished an overall third in that legendary competition. In all, Ferrier raced in seven Le Mans competitions and placed first in the two-liter prototype category in 1977.
In addition to commemorating the 1979 race with this Tourbillon Grand Sport, the new watch also memorializes the brand’s first tourbillon watch, which debuted ten years ago.
Returning to the front of the new watch you’ll see Laurent Ferrier’s typically elegant dial, here colored in light brown (or ‘smoked taupe’) with sporty orange luminescent white gold hands and impressive white gold indexes. Ferrier protects the dial with a spherical tinted sapphire crystal that is slightly rounded at the edge. Also sporty are the crown guards and bolts on the caseback. Both highly polished and matte finishes side-by-side remind you, again, that we’re looking at an inspired work of true haute horology.
Laurent Ferrier’s Tourbillon Grand Sport will be made as a limited edition of twelve pieces and is water-resistant to 100 meters. It’s fitted with a taupe rubber strap with a new deployant buckle. Each piece arrives in a gift box bearing a commemorative plaque. Price: $185,000.
Specifications: Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport
Case: 44mm stainless steel, three parts, sapphire back, water resistant at 100 meters, tinted sapphire glass, satin finishing on the sides and polished bezels, sporty bolts on the caseback
Movement: Manual winding, 21,600 vibrations/hour, power reserve of 80 hours, small seconds at 6 o’clock on tourbillon frame pivot, tourbillon rotating cage visible through sapphire case back, horizontal satin brushed bridges with a ruthenium treatment. Tourbillon features opposite double balance spring, Swiss lever escapement, balance at variable geometry, with screw, and tourbillon frame carrier in periphery.
Dial: Brown gradient with nickel opaline in the center, small second at 6 o’clock, 18-karat white gold indexes and hands with orange SuperLuminova.
Strap: Taupe, folding clasp, rubber strap