Review Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE.1 and FB 2RE.2

Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) Chronometry category nominated

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Mid-August 2020 spoiled us with an impressive amount of exceptional watches. Ferdinand Berthoud released the Chronomètre FB 2RE in two lascivious versions. Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE.1 comes with a white grand feu enamel dial in 18-carat ethical non-rhodium-plated white gold. The Chronomètre FB 2RE.2 comes with a black grand feu enamel dial in 18-carat ethical rose gold. Just a few days ago, the brand released the chronometric report, justifying once again the worthy position in the GPHG Chronometry category – FB2RE Chronometry Certificate.

erdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE
Chronomètre FB 2RE.2 and Chronomètre FB 2RE.1

Chronomètre FB 2RE pays a tribute to the genius of Ferdinand Berthoud. 250 years ago, the master watchmaker was awarded the title of “Clockmaker and Mechanic by appointment to the French King and Navy”. The presented watches are inspired by the Marine Clock.

Review Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

The watches present a series of visual elements specific to the Ferdinand Berthoud wristwatches. The Chronomètre FB 2RE comes with a new case concept, a superb grand feu dial and pilar system movement.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE.1:

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE.2:

Modular case construction

Chronomètre FB 2RE comes with a 44mm case in white, respectively rose ethical gold. The new case is a modular system: a cylindrical container inspired by the Ferdinand Berthoud marine clock with attached lugs.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

The lugs system has a robust construction. The short, tapered lugs are fixed on the case with screws in stylised bolts shape. The bolts are inspired by 18th-century mechanics – a new detail that pays a homage to the technologies used back then. The lugs system is presented with a combination of polished and brushed surfaces, decorations similar to the ones presented on the case. Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

A familiar look is given by the 18-carat gold crown with black ceramic medallion. The crown features a dynamometric system that disengages the winding system from the barrel to avoid overwinding.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

Another similarity to the previous Ferdinand Berthoud models is the transparent sapphire “porthole” at 10 o’clock. This “window” reveals the architectural construction of the pilar movement, the barrel and the chain of the chain fusee mechanism.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

The Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE is covered on top by a domed “chevée” glare-proofed sapphire crystal fixed on a concave-shaped bezel. The back is covered with a see-through caseback.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

Sublime Grand Feu dial

The Chronomètre FB 2RE face is an exceptional grand feu dial. FB 2RE.1 features a white dial with black numerals and indexes. FB 2RE.2 comes with a black dial with white registers. The elements present on the dial are not printed but realised also in the grand feu technique – a beautiful artisanal achievement. Moreover, the dial presents a recessed centre decorated with the name of the brand and Chronomètre Val-de-Travers inscription in the same difficult craft.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

The dial is simply amazing, just look at the reflected hands on its surface. The time is displayed using dramatic dagger-type hours and minutes skeletonised hands. The hands are manufactured in gold, except the central seconds’ hand in titanium that weighs just 0.01 grams (blued or gilded according to the theme).

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

Incredible how low the hands are placed on the dial. Note the polished surface in between the “sharp” edges of the dial’s levels.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

The dial presents Roman numerals for hours, an outer rail track for minutes and seconds and a third row with Arabic numerals for minutes/seconds.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

Regardless of the version, the dials are breathtaking. The compact set of hands hoovering the enamel dial offers a peerless watch face. The rarity of these dials is enriched by the complex multi-firing technique required.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

Extreme mechanics

The movement present in the Chronomètre FB 2RE features three remarkable and rare complications: fusee-and-chain transmission, remontoir d’égalité and seconde mort (deadbeat seconds). The combination of these noteworthy horological systems achieves an extraordinary chronometric performance and stability.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

The movement is built using a pilar system instead of the classic mainplate with screws fixed large bridges. This approach was used at the 18th century Ferdinand Berthoud marine chronometers. The FB-RE.FC calibre uses 26 bridges held by 10 steel pillars.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

Rare and beautiful complications

The fusee-and-chain transmission assures that the force served to the escapement is kept constant. Just like a variable automatic reduction gearbox.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

The torque delivered by the barrel of a watch movement naturally varies according to the degree of winding. In this type of transmission, when the movement is fully wound, the chain is completely wrapped around the small end of the spindle-shaped fusee and the mainspring is at maximum power. This force dwindles in the course of time, as the chain coils around the drum, moving from the small to the large end of the fusee. – excerpt from the official press release.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

The variation in the diameter of the fusee compensates for the reduction of the mainspring torque. The gear train thus receives a constant supply of energy, a pre-filtering of the energy arriving at the remontoire. The distinctive nature of the FB-RE.FC calibre lies in the fact that its fusee is reversed, and especially that its barrel and fusee are both suspended – meaning they are held on one side only, to the mainplate. This spectacular construction is patented and serves to save a few precious millimetres. – excerpt from the official press release.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

The one-second remontoir d’égalité is visible on the back of the watch, together with the large 2.5Hz balance wheel.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

Far from duplicating the role of the fusee, this device complements its action by acting on another point. The fusee equalises the torque reaching the gear train, yet irregularities are created when the teeth mesh. These torque variations, of a much smaller magnitude than those generated by the uncoiling of the mainspring, are nevertheless important in light of the precision demanded by Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud. – excerpt from the official press release.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

The force from the barrel is transmitted to the remontoire spring by means of a triangular ruby cam. When the escape-wheel has moved 2.5 teeth forward, the ruby cam releases the stop lever, that of the remontoire, and allows the driving force to enter the remontoire system. It is then charged for the next second. – excerpt from the official press release.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

When exceptional finishes leed to an aberrant time lost (really lost?!?)

Makes no sense to say, once again, how beautiful the execution is. How graceful are all the finishes realised… The movement is so splendid built and decorated that I spent a ridiculous amount of time looking at the pictures. Instead of focusing on describing the technicalities, I lost an aberrant amount of time swiping between pictures and studying details.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE

Every time, my train of thoughts was lost due to new details discovered. Technically and visually, these watches are masterpieces. The richness of details highlights, even more, the rare horological complications.  So I invite you to check the gallery and discover the details yourself.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE.1

Final notes

The truth is, this is one of the non-coherent reviews. I spent half a day trying to write a decent review, only to be lost, again and again, between pictures looking at mechanics, trying to discover all the details. Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE is a gorgeous development that worth every second spent to admiring it.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE
Chronomètre FB 2RE.2

Have you ever lost yourself in thoughts in front of a classic painting? Have you ever searched for the chisel stroke on a statue trying to comprehend its perfection? I admire the details riped from the past that pays a tribute to the great watchmaker. The dedication of the brand to create, with the help of skilled artisans, an exceptional example of pure horology.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE is a watch that transcends the time. It is a class of its own.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE Technical Specifications

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE.1

REF. FB 2RE.1

10-piece limited numbered edition in 18-carat white gold

Case

  • Round case in 18-carat ethical non-rhodium-plated white gold, fitted with a transparent sapphire “porthole” at 10 o’clock.
  • Total diameter:  44 mm
  • Thickness:  14.30 mm
  • Water resistance: 30 metres
  • Crown diameter: 9 mm
  • Numbered edition: 1/10 to 10/10
  • Dynamometric crown (uncoupling system) in 18-carat white gold, with black ceramic medallion
  • Screw-in exhibition back in 18-carat white gold fitted with a sapphire crystal pane glare-proofed on both sides
  • Domed “chevée” sapphire crystal glare-proofed on both sides

Dial

  • Split-level dial in white grand feu enamel, black grand feu enamel hours & minutes track
  • Inscriptions: “FERDINAND BERTHOUD” and “CHRONOMÈTRE VAL-DE-TRAVERS” in black grand feu enamel

Hands

  • Dagger-type hours and minutes hands in CVD-blued 18-carat gold
  • Central seconds hand in CVD-blued titanium
  • Arrow-shaped power reserve hand in CVD-blued 18-carat gold on the back of the movement

Strap and. Buckle

  • Hand-sewn leather strap (125 x 70 mm, with a 20 mm buckle) – Various sizes available on request
  • 18-carat white gold pin buckle – Double-blade length-adjustable folding clasp available on request
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE.2

REF. FB 2RE.2

10-piece limited numbered edition in 18-carat rose gold

Case

  • Round case in 18-carat ethical rose gold, fitted with a transparent sapphire “porthole” at 10 o’clock.
  • Total diameter:  44 mm
  • Thickness: 14.30 mm
  • Water resistance: 30 metres
  • Crown diameter: 9 mm
  • Numbered edition: 1/10 to 10/10
  • Dynamometric crown (uncoupling system) in 18-carat rose gold, with black ceramic medallion
  • Screw-in exhibition back in 18-carat rose gold fitted with a sapphire crystal pane glare-proofed on both sides
  • Domed “chevée” sapphire crystal glare-proofed on both sides

Dial

  • Split-level dial in black grand feu enamel, white grand feu enamel hours & minutes track
  • Inscriptions: “FERDINAND BERTHOUD” and “CHRONOMÈTRE VAL-DE-TRAVERS” in white grand feu enamel

Hands

  • Dagger-type hours and minutes hands in 18-carat rose gold
  • Central seconds hand in gilded titanium
  • Arrow-shaped power reserve hand in CVD-blued 18-carat gold on the back of the movement

Strap and. Buckle

  • Hand-sewn leather strap (125 x 70 mm, with a 20 mm buckle) – Various sizes available on request
  • 18-carat rose gold pin buckle – Double-blade length-adjustable folding clasp available on request

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2RE.1 & FB 2RE.2 Gallery

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