Amidst the more expectant hits – Laurent Ferrier has gone several years without launching new calibre – at SIHH this year was the Galet Annual Calendar Montre École, a humble and well-conceived watch that packs all the charm of mid century triple calendars, but with the convenience of an annual calendar. The LF126.01 movement inside marks the watchmaker’s fifth calibre in 10 years.
The complication in-between the triple and perpetual calendar in terms of complexity and function, an annual calendar takes into account the variable length of months – either 30 or 31 days – and requires only one adjustment each year at the end of February when the month has only 28 or 29 days.
Though it is an annual calendar, the new Laurent Ferrier harks back to the triple calendar watches of the 1940s and 1950s (one of which Vacheron Constantin just reissued) with its display. The day and month are down with in-line apertures, while the date is indicated on the periphery with a contrasting red pointer.
Setting the calendar is simple: a notched corrector at 10 o’clock (inspired by the Galet Traveller buttons that were in turn based on Grande Sonnerie pushers) advances the day while the date is set via the crown. The month indication is adjusted by advancing the date through an entire month (which can be done fairly swiftly).
Characterised by a blue date track and a crosshair in the middle, the dial is offered in two shades, silver-toned or slate-grey. And like many of Laurent Ferrier’s watches it has a two-tone finish inspired by vintage timepieces, with a vertical satin-brushed centre and a circular satin-brushed outer rim, while the recessed small seconds at six o’clock is grained, offering a contrast of textures.
The case takes the form of the 40mm three-piece bassiné form introduced last year, dubbed the Montre École, which translates as “school watch”, its shape being based on Mr Ferrier’s graduation project.
While the case is available in steel as well as red gold, the most striking version is irrefutably the yellow gold edition (pictured here), with the case colour perfectly matching the retro dial. The muted hue of the yellow gold model was achieved through a higher percentage of palladium and recalls the pale yellow of vintage 14k gold watches. But like all modern watches, it still maintains an 18k purity.
Visible through the exhibition back, the hand-wound LF126.01 is actually a simplified version of the movement in the Tourbillon Double Spiral (which is now the LF619.01 but was originally the FBN916.01). Like the tourbillon movement, it has an 80-hour power reserve, indicated by the display on the back.
Consequently, the basic architecture of the tourbillon movement is recognisable, as is the elegantly elongated winding click that’s often found in classical watchmaking. But the movement is nevertheless a lot more straightforward, with large, simply shaped bridges; it lacks the intricate elaborateness of Laurent Ferrier’s time-only automatic calibre.
While the annual calendar calibre is obviously high quality – the typical Laurent Ferrier decoration is abundant and obvious – the construction of the movement feels simpler than the earlier calibres, which carried a no-expense-spared air to them.
Though the forms are simpler, the finishing is still carefully and finely executed. The large bridges boast large, hand-applied Geneva stripes as well as superbly polished chamfers along their edges and countersinks for the screws and jewels. Even the pallet fork bridge below the balance wheel has chamfered edges.
Unusually the movement is also coloured differently (most Laurent Ferrier movements have a silvery rhodium plating) with a ruthenium treatment, giving it a medium grey tone.
And there is a significant difference with the escapement. Instead of the silicon double direct natural escapement standard in the Galet Micro-Rotor Automatic, or the double hairspring of the tourbillon, Laurent Ferrier has gone with the traditional lever escapement and a free-sprung, screwed balance.
That being said there’s still tech inside. The escape wheel and pallet fork are open-worked and made via the LIGA micro-moulding technique, making them extremely precisely shaped and efficiently lightweight.
Price and Availability
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar Montre Ecole (ref. LCF025) is priced SFr50,000 in steel and SFr55,000 in rose or yellow gold.
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