You knew the next one was going to be good, didn’t you? In our relentless effort to produce interesting and thoughtful timepieces for our audience, we’ve already worked with some icons of haute horology. We began this series in 2015 with an old friend who happens to make cutting-edge high-end timepieces with a dose of fun I’m talking about our stainless steel LM101 with MB&F. We followed that up with a ’50s twist on a ’60s caliber with Zenith. From there, we created a chronometry-focused minimalist’s dream with NOMOS. Then we built the greatest vintage Vacheron chronograph that never existed, before coming back to the avant garde with Ressence. Finally, in the summer of 2017, we revived the Heuer Skipper and the Dato-45 Carrera with a new movement and made one hell of a TAG Heuer (if we may say so ourselves). Today we’re thrilled to announced our latest collaboration, and man, we couldn’t be more proud.
It’s no secret that our entire team is a fan of the elegance and creativity of Laurent Ferrier. We began reporting on them back in 2010, when their tourbillon won the GPHG for best men’s watch. By 2011, the brand became a staple of the early days of HODINKEE, and the technical innovation (think natural escapement) coupled with superb hand-finishing and decoration, along with Mr. Ferrier’s knack for stunning tension in case and dial design quickly elevated the brand to become a favorite of connoisseurs the world over.
Laurent Ferrier himself became something of an icon to many of us his soft-natured approach to watchmaking and collectors makes him one of the most pleasant people to meet with when in Geneva, while his undeniable talent makes him one of the most exciting. His pedigree, which includes 37 years as a director at Patek Philippe and a podium finish at the 1979 running of Le Mans (behind none other than Mr. Paul Newman), makes him a legend. This watch, the Laurent Ferrier Traveller for HODINKEE is everything we love about Laurent embodied in one spectacular limited edition timepiece.
Let’s get into what this watch is and how you can get it.
The Laurent Ferrier Traveller For HODINKEE
In working with Laurent Ferrier, we wanted to touch on a new type of watch for our limited series. In many ways, the category of wristwatch that is most compelling, most charming to us, is the GMT or travel watch. We think it’s becausethe wristwatches that we love the most and the original jet age of the 1950s and ’60s go hand-in-hand they share a history, really. One does not exist without the other early navigation watches like those from Longines and Cartier allowed pilots to find their way, and the later Navitimers and Rolex GMTs allowed them to travel often and easily.
One can look back and imagine a well-dressed couple hopping aboard a Pan-Am flight for the first time, and the man pulling back his fine suit cuff to reveal a Patek Philippe 1415. Or maybe it would be a ref. 2597 one of the coolest vintage Calatravas in the world, because it looks just like a 570 if it weren’t for those two notched buttons you see on the case band that allow the wearer to jump the hour hand forward and back.
And in 2013, Laurent Ferrier introduced the Traveller, his own version of the coveted 2597, but updated for today. He took his already successful Galet Micro-Rotor and added an incredible dual timezone feature that included a home-time window at nine o’clock, sub-seconds at six o’clock, and date at three o’clock.
What you see on the case band though are those lovely notched pushers again, a push at eight o’clock will bring the main hour hand back one position, while the button at 10 o’clock will advance it. Of course, the watch retains the same incredible self-winding caliber found in the Micro-Rotor, so you have one of the most elegant and convenient watches in the world. The Traveller has enjoyed success since its launch, and it was this model that we used as the foundation of our collaboration.
A Dial Of Blue Enamel
The first thing we looked at is the dial. The existing Traveller is incredible for its elegant presentation of so much data. We wanted to reduce it even more, to bring the Traveller to its very core:ours is a watch that tells the time in two time zones, and nothing more. We first removed the seconds sub-dial at six o’clock, and then went ahead and removed the date window at three o’clock too.At nine 0’clock remains the home-time display this display is set once and never adjusted. It shows the time in your home city on a 24 hour basis.
The outer ring of the dial is circular satin-brushed blue that slopes towards a matte white railroad minute track. At the center? That’s deep blue enamel. Protecting the enamel center dial is a white gold sector inlay. The resulting dial is one of the most beautiful things to have come from Switzerland in years, if you ask us. The deep, glossy nature of the blue enamel provides amazing contrast against the silvered blue ring and white gold, assegai-shaped hands.
A Case Of Polished Titanium
In thinking about what would make the ultimate traveler’s companion, we knew we had the functionality down. But we wanted to make the watch even more wearable than one in gold or even steel. So what is lighter and more durable than stainless steel? You guessed it titanium. For the first time in Laurent Ferrier’s history, we have a solid titanium case.
But this is Laurent Ferrier, so you’re not going to get your normal rough titanium case. Instead, the three-part case is completely polished to resemble steel or white gold, and the only way one would know this watch is titanium is by the incredible lightweight feel when you pick it up. The diameter of the Traveller is 41mm, though the wonderful architecture of the Galet case allows it to wear much smaller. This is where Laurent Ferrier really comes into its own. The watch features domed sapphire crystals on both the front and the back the watch itself is 10mm thick, and with crystal it approaches 12mm. The enamel sector dial through domed crystal gives this watch an incredible vintage appearance, while the titanium case makes it feel thoroughly modern.
A Caliber In Anthracite
The beautiful thing about Laurent Ferrier is that the joy of ownership doesn’t end with the case and dial. In fact, an argument could be made that Laurent Ferrier’s movements are among the very finest in the world. Though, we would venture to say that most do not even know why Laurent Ferrier’s movements are as coveted as they are, beyond their clearly stunning aesthetics.
Laurent Ferrier’s watches, both the Galet Micro-Rotor and the Traveller, use something called a natural escapement, which is among the holy grails of escapement technology. Conceived by Abraham-Louis Breguet himself in the early nineteenth century, only a handful of watchmakers are capable of producing a natural escapement today. It is superior to the traditional lever escapement in many ways: it provides a dual, direct impulse directly onto the balance, it is self-starting, and it does not require lubrication at its impulse surfaces. Further, Laurent Ferrier’s caliber LF230.02 features a stunning off-centered micro-rotor in 18k gold with pawl-fitted, uni-directional winding, equipped with “silent block” shock absorption.
DID YOU KNOW?
Every Laurent Ferrier wristwatch is a certified chronometer, but instead of submitting just the movement to the COSC in Switzerland, the brand goes one step further to submit fully cased watches to the Astronomical Observatory at Besanon, France. The watches are tested in for 16 consecutive days, in five positions, and at three different temperatures.
Laurent Ferrier has excelled as a small, independent watchmaker because of the incredible design sensibilities it retains, but also because there are few watches made today that combine traditional elegance in dial and case design with actual horological achievement. Many times you have one without the other but with Laurent Ferrier, you have both incredible style and true watch-nerd substance. In fact, when a special contributor compared a Laurent Ferrier Micro-Rotor with a Philippe Dufour Simplicity and Credor Eichi II, he found that the LF offered the most balanced approach to both technical ability and aesthetics.
The detail in hand-finishing and depth to this movement is unrivaled in any modern self-winding caliber in the world. And what’s most impressive is that though it offers the ease of being an automatic watch, the micro-rotor allows you to still view the entirety of the incredible caliber from the caseback. And, because this is a special watch, Laurent Ferrier has applied an entirely new finish to the travel time caliber here. For this watch only, the LF230.02 caliber features a vertical satin-brushed finish in anthracite. This is done via galvanic ruthenium treatment, which plays beautifully against the titanium case.
The Laurent Ferrier Traveller Limited Edition For HODINKEE is our ideal concept of what the ultimate travel watch is today. It’s sleek, lightweight, durable, and easy to wear. It’s self-winding, and simple. The dial is stunning, and the deep blue surrounded by the brushed satin ring a subtle homage to the bright sky set against a deep ocean is hand crafted in the way that the wonderful travel watches of the 1950s were constructed. The caliber is exceptional, and represents true haute horlogerie but with a very practical undertone. This is a very special watch, the type that will only be appreciated by those in the know, and that’s what we’ve always loved about Laurent Ferrier.