It’s interesting to consider what Laurent Ferrier has accomplished in terms of establishing itself as a highly desirable marque for collectors, and then to consider how it happened in the space of the last ten years. When you look closely at the watches, it seems pretty obvious why they have garnered a following. They blend a high-level horological craft with a design sensibility that pays respect to classic watch design without copying; this is an incredibly difficult thing to do. One can look at an LF watch on a distant wrist and know exactly what it is, and one can also venture reasonable guesses about the collector it’s strapped to: where their tastes lie, and what other watches might interest them. All of which is to say that Laurent Ferrier has earned a highly developed and recognizable identity in a relatively short period of time, and this in the slow-moving world of watches.
To celebrate its tenth year, Laurent Ferrier is going back a bit to its roots and to the Classic case shape that earned the young company its first major accolades at the 2010 Geneva Grand Prix with the Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral. The new Classic Origin Opaline has the same smooth contours as that award-winning watch, but it comes in a lightweight grade-5 titanium package housing a comparatively simpler hand-wound movement. In typical LF fashion, it has an elegantly proportioned dial and the classic “Assegai”-shaped hands that have long graced the wristwatches from the independent Geneva watchmaker.
An almost textbook picture of balance and symmetry, the silvered opaline dial is evenly divided into quadrants from its center, with hour markers converging inward from the minute track. Great contrast comes via Burgundy-colored markings for the sub-seconds as well as for the numerals of the hours 13 through 24, should one desire the time on a 24-hour scale. The sense for shape, color, and symmetry that have always been the calling cards of Laurent Ferrier is there.
Under that dial, we have a new manually wound movement in the form of the LF 116.01. It’s equipped with a free-sprung balance and a Breguet overcoil, and it also has Laurent Ferrier’s long-blade ratchet system, which is responsible for the rich click and tactile feel one experiences when winding it up. (If you have to wind your watch, it might as well feel and sound as good as possible.) Like the dial, the movement isn’t the least bit loud or ostentatious, but it exudes an unmistakable air of quality. Its bridges have a discreet microblasted black rhodium finish and hand-polished edges.
At this point, Laurent Ferrier has, by my count, five distinct case designs in its collection. But it feels natural to me that it would draw on the Classic case shape for a watch celebrating such a major milestone. This is the essential shape that, to many collectors, still represents what a Laurent Ferrier watch is and that manages somehow, despite its ostensibly simple roundness, to have such a palpable and distinct identity. And that beautiful opaline dial with Burgundy printing recalls something out of an horological vintage fever dream that I cannot quite place. This watch is sick.
Yet somehow, it’s also a relatively low-key watch, albeit in a very high-end way. That’s kind of how I’ve come to think of Laurent Ferrier. The watches really do speak for themselves. Reverence and respect for them run deep among people who really care about watches and likely already know that Mr. Laurent Ferrier spent his prior career at Patek Philippe or that he also happened to podium at Le Mans.
Brand: Laurent Ferrier
Model: Classic Origin Opaline
Reference Number: LCF036.TI.G1G
Case Material: Grade 5 titanium
Dial Color: Opaline with Burgundy printing
Indexes: 18-karat white gold
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Light brown Barbialla calf leather with Alcantara lining, grade-5 titanium pin buckle
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Power Reserve: 80 hours
Winding: Manually wound
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Number Of Components: 150
Price: CHF 28,500
Availability: By late July 2020.
For more, visit Laurent Ferrier.