Says watch industry legend Jean Claude Biver, “In my 50 years in the industry, I’ve never seen anything like this.”
But if you look at the indies, there is one that fulfills the neoclassical niche better than all others, and that is
Laurent Ferrier. While the majority of other rock star independents range from futuristic like Urwerk, quirky like
Konstantin Chaykin, 18th century in inspiration like Théo Auffret, highly technical like Bernhard Lederer or
irrepressibly crazy like Vianney Halter, Ferrier has perfectly defined the space of the restrained modern classic.
Because he does it just so perfectly.
Deep inside Laurent Ferrier’s imagination, inchoate but present when he made his first pocket watch in 1968 and
enriching itself to full maturity over his 37 years at Patek Philippe, was a singular voice of immeasurable
horological grace. When he did unveil this vision to the world with the launch of his eponymous brand in 2009, the
watch that he created, the Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral, triggered an incredible flood of what Proust
would call “involuntary memories.” Since then, he has achieved this over and over again with each successive launch,
from the Classic Micro-Rotor, to his Traveler and Annual Calendar, and most recently with his sublime Classic
Origin. I would say, more than any other independent brand, Ferrier reconnected us all with the love for classical
watchmaking — a remembrance of things past, that we had almost forgotten. Laurent Ferrier is our bridge between the
past and the present. His watches are the living, beating repositories of horology’s greatest collective memories.
So artfully did he wield nuanced details inspired by 19th and mid-20th century Swiss watchmaking that his vision
felt like it had already existed for a century or more, already permanently inscribed into the lexicon of horology’s
Even more importantly, at a time when watchmaking was becoming bombastic and theatrical, he reintroduced the world to
the type of watchmaking that was serene, tranquil, and calm. Says Ferrier, “In art, a baroque period is always
followed by an era of renewed classicism. That is the type of watchmaking I wanted to reintroduce to the world.
Classic watchmaking as I loved it.” Which is to say watchmaking that is devoid of hyperbole, an ethos of smooth
curvilinear forms inspired by the Golden Ratio and the touch of the divine in nature. Watchmaking that champions
restrained beauty belied by high powered technical prowess that instantly made Laurent Ferrier one of the most
compelling high watchmaking marques around.
Ferrier explains, “I grew up around watchmaking so there was always a sense of predestination that I would work in
watches. I imagine, in the same way that it was for my son, Christian. My father was a specialist in grand
complications, and I was infected by his passion in particular early on. He would tell me stories of how timekeeping
was interlinked with the story of human history. That the marine chronometer was the instrument which allowed man to
safely navigate the seas.” But at an early age, Ferrier was also swept up by a passion for auto racing, which he
feels added to his interest in watchmaking in a unique way.
For Ferrier, the mental discipline, the rigor of character, the focus necessary to be a great driver was similar to
his approach to watchmaking. He says, “In watches, every single element makes a critical difference in the outcome.
This is something that I have tried to apply to Laurent Ferrier watches. Ours is a design language that is
restrained, some might even say minimalist, but if you look at the details, the color density of the font for each
marker, the shape of the crown, the compound curve of the sapphire crystal, every element has been painstakingly
considered over and over until we thought it was perfect.”
The 2021 Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin for Revolution and The Rake
My immense passion for Laurent Ferrier and his watches resulted in our first collaboration launched last year. The
inspiration for this project was a timepiece created by the legendary auctioneer Aurel Bacs, together with his
friend, the mythical Auro Montanari, also known by his nom de plume John Goldberger. Their design was for a watch
with dial inspired by the “sector” or scientific dial chronometers from the 1930s and ’40s. Our watch was
distinguished from the Bac and Montanari model by a seconds indicator, different hands, different crown, a different
two-tone dial configuration, a frosted finish manual wind movement from the Classic Origin and a sporty Milanese
bracelet. When the rendering for what I felt was an incredibly charming watch was finished, I posted it on my
personal Instagram account. To my surprise and gratitude, I received so many DMs that the 12 pieces of the limited
edition were spoken for in under 30 minutes. One of these watches which had a retail price of CHF 28,800 went to auction at Christie’s in May 2021. The watch
hammered at CHF 40,000; the final price would have been CHF 50,000 including 25 percent buyer’s premium, which meant
it had increased in value by more than 70 percent in a few months.
For our follow-up to this project, this year, we will launch two steel cased models, both featuring dials inspired by
the same golden era of the 1930s and ’40s. This time, we wanted to feature what we consider to be one of the most
beautiful types of indexes ever created, applied Breguet numerals. These stylized Arabic numerals have a charming
Latin flair and are featured in the most collectible examples of watches, such as Patek Philippe’s references 96 and
530 time-only watches and the famous ref. 1463 or “Tasti Tondi” chronographs. Indeed, the presence of Breguet
numerals and a steel case on a Tasti Tondi increase the value of that watch by more than 300 percent.
Says Laurent Ferrier, “The idea was to remain in the theme of a sector-style dial but to add to it these elements of
applied Breguet numerals which, to me, results in one of the beautiful dials we’ve worked on. The three numerals,
12, 3 and 9, are all created from wire erosion on white gold before they are perfectly decorated then treated with a
ruthenium coating. These are delicately applied to a dial that features a stunning sunray effect. The lines
radiating from the middle of the dial create a stunning, energetic luminous effect, which is again contrasted by the
dark black sector ring. This ring features an all-new original design inspired by the ring found in our project last
year, but with much bolder and far longer attenuated arms that act as markers for the other indexes. This is a style
of dial I find very charming but is perhaps a touch more exuberant than usual for us. But this is precisely why it
works as a limited edition between Laurent Ferrier and Revolution. To make the watches even more distinct, both the
manual wind and micro-rotor movements feature a frosted yellow gold finish with contrasting high-polished bevels.
This is the first time we’ve ever used this finish on a micro-rotor movement and I think the result is