Review: Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud “Oeuvre d’Or” Collection: white gold FB 1.1-2 and rose gold FB 1.2-1

Amazing, wonderful, astonishing, awesome, breathtaking, marvelous, remarkable - Yes, all synonyms are describing correctly the Golden Masterpieces

Reading Time: 18 minutes
Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1
Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud “Oeuvre d’Or” Reference FB 1.2-1

It was not easy to take a decision regarding the first watch to review after SIHH. If you had a look at my SIHH impressions Part1, Part2 and Part 3, you should already have an idea what I have seen. Therefore I decided to start completely random. Why not with one of my preferences. So based only on a feeling given by a random wrist shot – The Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. 1.2-1 and, respectively Ref. 1.1-2. These are my thoughts and feelings. (Long, descriptive text with many pictures)

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 soldat landscape view
Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 in rose gold with gold dial

Ferdinand Berthoud “Oeuvre d’Or” Collection

This year, the brand decided to update two previously released creations: FB 1.1 white gold with titanium lugs and FB 1.2 rose gold with black ceramic lugs. The “Oeuvre d’Or” collection offers two pieces: the FB 1.1-2 in white gold and with, a first for the brand, diamond setting; the FB 1.2-1 in rose gold white gold. The collection, limited series of five pieces each model, comes with exquisite decoration on both dial and respectively backside.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref.FB-1.1-2 Oblique Crown view
Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB-1.1-2 comes with an elegant gem set. The subtle baguette setting is replacing the sapphire windows seen at the previous models. The crown is also delicately decorated with diamonds.

The Ferdinand Berthoud “Oeuvre d’Or” Collection is inspired by the astronomical pocket watch No. 3. The watch created by Berthoud was assembled and adjusted by one of the master’s students – Jean Martin. The watch, finished in Paris in 1806, is part of the L.U.CEUM collection in Fleurier.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 case side
Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 feature on the case an engraving with the reference and the watch number. In this case, 3, from the limited series of 5. Note the openings covered with sapphire crystal that allow an excellent view of the movement’s secrets.

From marine chronometers to a wrist marvel

The case is inspired by the marine chronometers created by Berthoud starting with 1760. The combination of white gold and black ceramic lugs and crown insertion is spectacular at the FB 1.1-2. The rose gold version, the FB 1.2-1, features a mixture of finishes – the polished case and the mat brushed gold lugs.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 case side - crown view
Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 – crown’s case side. The watch features rose gold lugs and fastening screws. The white gold FB 1.1-2 use for lugs fixation DLC-treated titanium fastening screws.

The multi-part construction is quite complex: from the geometric point of view and the level and number of finishes, as well. The raised bezel holds a domed and arched sapphire crystal. Note the lugs fixing screws with bombe, highly polished heads. From the first look, the watch stands out as something special.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 case side
The reference number and the watch number x/5 is engraved on the case’s side of the Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 and Ref. FB 1.1-2. The engraving is delightful executed, bringing one more reason to love the watch. Note the case openings, covered with sapphire crystals, that allow an unusual view to the intricated movement.

A case like no other

The octagonal shape of the watch case is cemented, in the common conscience, as a mark of the luxury timepieces. The Ferdinand`s Berthoud case is more than just a complex architectural structure, it is a statement of exclusivity in therm of finishes and beauty.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.1-2 gem set
In the Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.1-2, the sapphire crystal windows to the movement were replaced by diamonds baguette.

The Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.1-2 case is surrounded by four sets of gemstones, five on each set, making a total of 1.99 carats. A first for the brand. FB 1.1-2 crown is adorned with a black ceramic medallion featuring the brand’s logo engraved and it is set with 14 baguette-cut diamonds (0.8 carats).

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 case side with crown
The crown itself is relatively large but well balanced with the case proportions. The lovely and exceptional executed finishes are also applied to the crown. The feeling and feedback of the crown are excellent. The watch is easy to set and wind. The Reference FB 1.2-1 has the medallion crafted in 5N 18k rose gold.

In the picture above can be easily observed the domed and arched sapphire crystal. The crystal received anti-reflective treatment on both sides.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 buckle
The pin buckle of the Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 is manufactured in 18k gold. Like any other component, the buckle is nicely decorated: the engraved brand’s initials are centred by to arrows on a polished background

The watch feels heavy, without being tiresome. The amount of precious metal has its share. Not only the case has a profit from the gold: the dial itself and part of the bridges are also made from the same precious material.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 - Dial
The dial is crafted from 5N 18k rose gold, engraved and patinated by hand

Time is gold

Or more precisely said, the dial is made of gold. Time is precious, so is its display. Big words like astonishing, bewildering or breathtaking are just a humble description of this dial. The dial’s beauty left me, without any exaggeration, mouth-open speechless.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 - Dial detail
The dial witnessed several types of painstakingly made finishes. I am impressed by the hand bevelled openings: an oval opening revealing the seconds’ gear and, deep underneath, the tourbillon. Note the patented direct drive seconds tourbillon: the fourth wheel and the wheel driving the tourbillon carriage. The jewels are fixed in gold chaton. The sinks are mirrored polished. The chatons enjoy the same polished bevelling.

To make the dial even more spectacular, the hand finished bevelled surfaces are treated with rhodium plating. The chamfered surfaces create now a powerful contrast to the rest of the dial. Taking a look into the multi-depth design, you can observe that the brushed cocks suffer from the same hand-beveling. Moreover, the fixation of the jewels is made using yellow gold chatons – a spectacle of gold shades.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 - Dial detail of the power reserve
The power reserve indication is delicately highlighted by the rhodium plated hand chamfering. The blued hand makes a warm contrast with the brushed dial.

At nine o’clock is displayed the power reserve. The indication is made using a thermally blued arrow. The state of the barrel is shown using engravings on a vertical brushed surface of the mainplate: a partial rail track with quarter marks – 0, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and, respectively 1. The indication is doubled on the gold dial side with the engraving of the words “HAUT” (high) and “BAS” (low).

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 - Dial detail time display
The time display is discrete. It offers though high legibility. The off centre circular satin-brushed silver-toned gold hours and minutes subdial uses black Arabic numerals for the hours and indexes for the minutes.

For hands of gold are always cold” Or not…

Skipping the Games of Thrones song, leaving the joke aside…

The “Oeuvre d’Or” Collection uses gold hands for power reserve, hours and minutes hands. Black nickel-plated 18k gold dagger-shaped facetted cut-out hours and minutes hands, a black nickel-plated 18k gold arrow-shaped power-reserve pointer for the Ref. FB 1.1-2. The Reference 1.2-1 features thermally blued 18k gold dagger-shaped facetted cut-out hours and minutes hands, blued 18k gold dagger-shaped facetted cut-out hours and minutes hands.

The central seconds’ hand is cast in bronze with a nickel plating for the Ref. FB 1.1-2 and blued for the Ref. FB 1.2-1.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.1-2 dial
The 3N 18k yellow gold dial of the Ref. FB 1.1-2 is hand engraved and patinated. The watch uses black nickel-plated 18-carat gold hands (except the bronze seconds’ hand).

The dial of the Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud “Oeuvre d’Or” Collection is decorated with a frost look finish done by hand. Both editions feature a hand-engraved inscription: “Ferdinand Berthoud” “Chronomètre Val-de-Travers Suisse” and the limited edition number, 3 from 5 in our case.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 Dial Engraving
The beautiful hand engraving text is placed on the right side of the dial. The inscription brakes the dial monotony and balance, making it alluring, engaging.

The b(l)ack side of the… watch

Turning the watch on the other side reveals an equal if not greater wonder. The 18k gold screw-in back case with exhibition back allows us the enjoy the splendour. Three half bridges, made of gold, are decorated with a “pyramid” hand engraving. This decoration requires immense concentration, being made free-hand. The source of inspiration is, again, a Ferdinand Berthoud watch.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 case back
The back view of the Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1. Note the five cutouts of the case back used for handling. The case back bears the engravings with the brand’s logo, material, reference and watch number.

The movement is meticulously decorated with an entire series of details and finishes. Abstracting the functional components, the calibre FB-T.FC-3 uses, for the first time, invisibly screwed cartouches bearing the inscriptions “Ferdinand Berthoud, Chronomètre Suisse 45 rubis” and one with the brand logo. The other two cartouches are fixed on the barrel using two visible screws, one having engraved the number of the watch.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1 view of the movement
Both models of the “Oeuvre d’Or” collection are powered by the lavishly decorated Calibre FB-T.FC-3

Let the force be always (constant) with you!

The calibre FB-T.FC-3 is a complex tourbillon with fusee-and-chain (constant-force) transmission covered by four patents: the suspended fusée – differential winding system, the suspended barrel – Maltese cross stop-work system, the suspended power reserve – mobile cone system and the tourbillon with direct-drive seconds. Besides the technical complications, the implementation is done at the level of mechanical art. The calibre FB-T.FC-3 is COSC certified.

Ferdinand Berthoud Calibre FB-T.FC-3 stop work
Calibre FB-T.FC-3 features a suspended barrel with a Maltese cross stop-work system.

All the components have polished beveling. Screws are included. Note the five finishes type on the barrel: chamfering, mirror polish, circular brushing, matt brushing and a frosted finish. Again, the jewel is mounted on a gold chaton.

Ferdinand-Berthoud-Ref.-FB-1.2-1 Chain Fusee barrel view
The suspended barrel viewed through the sapphire windows. The chain is also visible.

The patented fusee-and-chain system delivers a constant force to the escapement on the entire period of the energy depletion from the barrel. This permits chronometric precision on the entire autonomy of the 53 hours of the power reserve. The movement uses a 21,600 vph (3 Hz) balance wheel.

Ferdinand Berthoud Calibre FB-T.FC-3 suspended fusee
The Ferdinand Berthoud Calibre FB-T.FC-3 suspended fusee is another patent. “Force Constante” is engraved behind the wheel.

Again, the components are exquisitely decorated. The wheels are chamfered. On the fusee system, the wheel is mounted on a jewel fixed in a gold chaton by a plate with two screws. The plate is bevelled and polished. The wheels bear a circular brushing.

Ferdinand-Berthoud-Ref.-FB-1.2-1 Chain Fusee fusee view
The suspended fusee system viewed through the case sapphire window. Note the “pyramidal” shape – the “secret” of the constant force. The chain is also visible.

The direct drive seconds tourbillon is made possible by the correlation between the fourth wheel and the wheel driving the tourbillon carriage, both perfectly identical and visible on the dial side.

Ferdinand Berthoud Calibre FB-T.FC-3
The direct drive seconds tourbillon of the Calibre FB-T.FC-3. The gears are visible on the dial side.

Nothing spins me like the one-minute tourbillon

The 1-minute tourbillon comprises 67 components. The 166.55 mm diametre tourbillon cage is manufactured in titanium, adding robustness and lightweight. The carriage is fixed with three polished titanium pillars. It is possible to notice the titanium components due to the darker grade shade. The tourbillon carriage was poised by two 18-carat gold inertia blocks for stability (one visible on the right side and one on the top side of the carriage). The Swiss lever escapement is well visible in the picture above.

Ferdinand Berthoud Calibre FB-T.FC-3 tourbillon
The Calibre FB-T.FC-3 features a variable -inertia balance wheel with four gold-plated nickel silver inertia blocks and a balance spring with hand-crafted steel Phillips outer terminal curve (overcoil)

 

Ferdinand Berthoud Calibre FB-T.FC-3 details
Another view of the variable-inertia balance wheel ant the gold-plated nickel silver inertia blocks. Also visible are the finishes of the gold bridge. Note the Ferdinand Berthoud logo engraved on the caseback

The wrist game

The Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud “Oeuvre d’Or” is an amazing collection of two models, five-piece each. I have to admit that my favourite one is the rose gold version with a rose gold dial, the FB 1.2-1. I find the mix of colours, materials and finishes very pleasant. I find the gem-set white gold version, the FB 1.1-2, an interesting proposal. The brand is established as a serious watchmaking Maison that puts value in the details and not diamonds. But I consider it is ok the make an exception from time to time. For me, personally, the rose gold version stands out, but I also enjoy, without any doubt, the white gold version too.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref.FB-1.1-2 wrist shot
Ferdinand Berthoud Ref.FB-1.1-2 on the wrist.

The attention to detail is over the usual haute horlogerie level. There are just a few high-end Maison capable to produce such wonders. With every detail, with every component, you will find yourself absorbed by its beauty in design and in execution.

Ferdinand Berthoud Ref. FB 1.2-1
My favourite piece of Ferdinand Berthoud and one of the greatest piece of SIHH 2019

The 44mm diameter watch wears smaller as expected. The octagonal shape and the entire construction make the watch to sit comfortably on the wrist. The watch is quite heavy, due to the amount of precious metal, but does not impose problems for a collector used to have a mechanical piece on the wrist. I wear timepieces varying from 33m to 45mm diameter and the Ferdinand Berthoud always seems to be smaller than the 44mm.

An excellent brand, dedicated to the true values of watchmaking thanks to the efforts of Karl-Friedrich Scheufele.

For more details about the Reference FB 1.1-2 please check the official website here. For the Reference FB 1.2-1, please check here.

Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud “Oeuvre d’Or” Collection Technical Specifications and Price

Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud REF. FB 1.1-2

Numbered five-piece limited edition in gemset 18-carat white gold – CHF 282.500 (VAT included)

CASE

  • Octagonal 18-carat white gold case set with 20 baguette-cut diamonds (1.99 ct)

Total diameter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   44 mm

Thickness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13 mm

Water resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  30 metres

Crown diameter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9 mm

Numbered edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/5 to 5/5

  • Dynamometric system (coupling system) in 18-carat white gold with a black ceramic medallion, set with 14 baguette-cut diamonds (0.8 ct)
  • 18-carat white gold screw-in exhibition back fitted with a sapphire crystal pane
  • Black ceramic lugs and black DLC-treated titanium fastening screws
  • Domed and arched sapphire crystal, glareproofed on both sides

DIAL

  • 18-carat (3N) yellow gold dial, engraved and patinated by hand
  • Hand-bevelled dial centre and power-reserve indicator, rhodium-plated chamfers
  • Offset circular satin-brushed silver-toned gold hours and minutes subdial, black Arabic numerals
  • Circular satin-brushed silver-toned gold seconds track
  • Power-reserve indication engraved on the mainplate: “0_1/4_1/2_3/4_1”
  • Autonomy indicated by an arrow pointing to the words “HAUT” (high) and “BAS” (low)
  • Hand-engraved inscriptions: “Ferdinand Berthoud” “Chronomètre Val-de-Travers Suisse” and the limited edition number

HANDS

  • Black nickel-plated 18-carat gold dagger-shaped facetted cut-out hours and minutes hands
  • Black nickel-plated 18-carat gold arrow-shaped power-reserve pointer
  • Black nickel-plated bronze central seconds hand

STRAP AND BUCKLE

  • Hand-stitched rolled-edge alligator leather made from a single piece of leather (115 x 75 mm, with a 20 mm buckle) – Various sizes available on request
  • 18-carat white gold pin buckle

INDICATIONS

  • Hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve

MOVEMENT

Mechanical manual-winding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Calibre FB-T.FC-3

Diameter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   35.50 mm

Thickness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7.96 mm

Lignes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15 ¾

Jewels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   45

Frequency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21,600 vph (3 Hz)

Power reserve    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  53 hours

TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS
  • Tourbillon with fusee-and-chain (constant-force) transmission

Suspended fusée – differential winding system (PATENT)

Suspended barrel – Maltese cross stopwork system (PATENT)

Suspended power reserve – mobile cone system (PATENT)

Tourbillon with direct-drive seconds (PATENT)

  • Variable-inertia balance wheel featuring four gold-plated nickel silver inertia blocks
  • Balance spring with hand-crafted steel Phillips outer terminal curve (overcoil)
  • Swiss lever escapement
  • Three 18-carat (3N) yellow gold half-bridges, hand-engraved with the “pyramid” motif and fitted on stylised titanium pillars
  • Hand finishing in keeping with the highest watchmaking standards

Components . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1,119 (including the chain)

Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   790 components

Length of the chain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   285 mm

Half-bridges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   18 including three in 18-carat (3N) yellow gold

Pillars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   six

Tourbillon

Rotation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 /minute

Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   67

Tourbillon carriage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Ø 16.55 mm (titanium)

Tourbillon carriage fixed to. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   three polished titanium pillars

Tourbillon carriage poised by. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  two 18-carat gold inertia blocks

Balance wheel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Ø 12 mm in copper-beryllium

Officially chronometer-certified by the COSC

 

Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud REF. FB 1.2-1

Numbered five-piece limited edition in 18-carat rose gold – CHF 258.000 (VAT included)

CASE 

  • Octagonal 18-carat rose (5N) gold case

Total diameter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   44 mm

Thickness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13 mm

Water resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   30 metres

Crown diameter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9 mm

Numbered edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1/5 to 5/5

  • Dynamometric system (coupling system) with 18-carat (5N) rose gold medallion
  • 18-carat (5N) rose gold screw-in exhibition back fitted with a sapphire crystal pane
  • 18-carat (5N) rose gold lugs and fastening screws
  • Domed and arched sapphire crystal, glare-proofed on both sides

DIAL

  • 18-carat (5N) rose gold dial, engraved and patinated by hand
  • Hand-bevelled dial centre and power-reserve indicator, rhodium-plated chamfers
  • Offset circular satin-brushed silver-toned gold hours and minutes subdial, black Arabic numerals
  • Circular satin-brushed silver-toned gold seconds track
  • Power-reserve indication engraved on the mainplate: “0_1/4_1/2_3/4_1”
  • Autonomy indicated by an arrow pointing to the words “HAUT” (high) and “BAS” (low)
  • Hand-engraved inscriptions: “Ferdinand Berthoud” “Chronomètre Val-de-Travers Suisse” and the limited edition number

HANDS

  • Blued 18-carat gold dagger-shaped facetted cut-out hours and minutes hands
  • Blued 18-carat gold arrow-shaped power-reserve pointer
  • Blued bronze central seconds hand

STRAP AND BUCKLE

  • Hand-stitched rolled-edge alligator leather made from a single piece of leather (115 x 75 mm, with a 20 mm buckle)
  • 18-carat rose gold pin buckle

INDICATIONS

  • Hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve

MOVEMENT

Mechanical manual-winding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Calibre FB-T.FC-3

Diameter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    35.50 mm

Thickness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7.96 mm

Lignes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   15 ¾

Jewels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   45

Frequency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   21,600 vph (3 Hz)

Power reserve. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  53 hours

TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS            
  • Tourbillon with a fusee-and-chain (constant-force) transmission device

Suspended fusée – differential winding system (PATENT)

Suspended barrel – Maltese cross stop-work system (PATENT)

Suspended power reserve – mobile cone system (PATENT)

Tourbillon with direct-drive seconds (PATENT)

  • Variable-inertia balance wheel featuring four gold-plated nickel silver inertia blocks
  • Balance spring with hand-crafted steel Phillips outer terminal curve (overcoil)
  • Swiss lever escapement
  • Three chamfered and engraved 18-carat (5N) rose gold half-bridges, hand-engraved with the ‘pyramid’ motif, fitted on stylised titanium pillars
  • Hand-finishing in keeping with the highest watchmaking standards

Components . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1,119 (including the chain)

Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  790 components

Length of the chain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   285 mm

Half-bridges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   18 including three in sapphire

Pillars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   six

Tourbillon

Rotation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1 /minute

Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   67

Tourbillon carriage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   Ø 16.55 mm (titanium)

Tourbillon carriage fixed to. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Three polished titanium pillars

Tourbillon carriage poised by. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   Two 18-carat gold inertia blocks

Balance wheel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Ø 12 mm in copper-beryllium

Officially chronometer-certified by the COSC

For more information, please visit the Ferdinand Berthoud Official Website.

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