Ferdinand Berthoud Oeuvre d’Or Revealed

Melvyn Teillol-Foo

09:00 CET 14th January 2019

SIHH Geneva

Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud revealed the ‘Oeuvre d’Or’ collection today.

[Photo Credits Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud unless otherwise stated]

Ferdinand Berthoud original FB 1.1 chronometer in 2015

The original Chronomètre FB 1 was introduced in 2015 as two gold versions: white gold with titanium lugs (FB 1.1) and rose gold with black ceramic lugs (FB 1.2).

Ferdinand Berthoud original FB 1.2 chronometer in 2015 (photo by MTF) @ AlphaLuxe

The new ‘Work of Gold’ artistic interpretations use the same precious metals as their predecessors: white gold (FB 1.1-2) and rose gold (FB 1.2-1) with new original decorations. These new, entirely hand-crafted, decorations are engraved on the 18K gold dial and movement half-bridges. Additionally, the white gold version is the first gem-set creation from Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud.

Ferdinand Berthoud Astronomical Watch Nr.3 (photo by MTF) @ alphaluxe

The two new models are issued in very exclusive limited editions of five pieces each. They are inspired by astronomical pocket watch No. 3 created by Ferdinand Berthoud, assembled and adjusted in Paris in 1806 by his student, Jean Martin; it is now part of the L.U.CEUM collection in Fleurier.

The slant-edged case is inspired by the shape of the marine chronometers designed by Ferdinand Berthoud from 1760 onwards. For more than 45 years, Ferdinand Berthoud perfected movements so as to achieve the highest possible chronometric precision.

Ferdinand Berthoud Marine Chronometer Gimbal (photo by MTF) @ alphaluxe

The FB 1 collection of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud pays tribute to his work and to the movements that pioneered chronometric precision. Its case is inspired by Ferdinand Berthoud’s marine chronometers, especially their gimbal suspension that served to maintain on-board chronometers in a permanently horizontal position.

Ferdinand Berthoud FB-T.FC calibre open

The FB-T.FC movement is placed in the centre of a watertight container and has a characteristic pillar-type structure. This technique of attaching bridges to the mainplate was no longer in use until this new revival. It lightens the structure of the movement and at the same time enables a very open view of its details and finishes.

Hand-engraved Patinated Gold Dial

Ferdinand Berthoud Oeuvre d’Or_FB1.1-2 dial

The Chronomètre FB 1.1-2 has an 18K white gold case and an 18K yellow gold dial inspired by the Berthoud Astronomical Watch Nr.3 on display at L.U.Ceum in Fleurier. The dial provides a large surface on which to apply an exclusive finish: a hand-crafted patina. The patina is created using a combination of skillful engraving techniques: The gold is finely grained with a graver. Then, the surface is crafted extensively with a tool called a “rocker”, producing a moiré effect through light creating shimmering reflections off the dial. The combination of techniques mimics the natural patina of the dial of the astronomical pocket watch No. 3 that inspired the Chronomètre FB 1.

Each of the five dials in this limited edition is hand-engraved and then subtly coloured to perfect the overall legibility. The FB 1.1-2 model, like Ferdinand Berthoud’s original creations, is adorned with manual engravings that make it unique: “Ferdinand Berthoud – Chronomètre – Val-de-Travers – Suisse”, followed by the individual limited-edition number, “N° N/5”. The power reserve of the movement is indicated by engraved words: “Haut” and “Bas” (High and Low).

Pyramid Engraving

A different type of finishing appears on the back side. For the first time, the FB 1 collection features a ‘pyramid’ motif decoration on the three half-bridges, showing off the artisanal flair of the Manufacture’s engravers. The material is cut free-hand with flawless precision and regularity using a graver.

Ferdinand Berthoud Regulator FB 1.R-6 (photo by MTF) @ alphaluxe

This ‘pyramid’ decoration previously used on two elements of the Ferdinand Berthoud Regulator FB 1R-6, is inspired by the base of an astronomical clock by Ferdinand Berthoud, kept at the L.U.CEUM in Fleurier.

Ferdinand Berthoud Oeuvre d’Or movement back

The new watches have the ‘pyramid’ decoration on the back of the movement as a new look to the that frames the tourbillon, the barrel, as well as the fusee-and-chain transmission system. The new decoration also includes 18K gold cartouches bearing the inscriptions “Ferdinand Berthoud, Chronomètre Suisse 45 rubis”. Did you notice Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud’s first use of invisibly-screwed cartouches?

They are that extra touch on the back of the timepiece for aesthetic coherence, reflecting the finish of the tourbillon bridge.

First gem-set case

The new FB 1.1-2 model in 18K white gold stands out even more because four of its surfaces are adorned with baguette-cut diamonds for the very first time: on either side of the crown and alongside the engraving of the limited-edition number facing it at 9 o’clock. The FB 1.1-2 model is the first of the Collection to feature gemsetting instead of the sapphire crystal portholes that historically showcased key movement components.

Ferdinand Berthoud Oeuvre d’Or_FB1.1-2 gem-set

This new five-piece limited edition also has a gem-set crown, a first for Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud. The exclusive choice of baguette-cut diamonds evokes the vertical pillar-type construction of the movement.

Ferdinand Berthoud Oeuvre d’Or_FB1.2-1 rose gold

The other limited series, called FB 1.2-1, displays most of the characteristics of the 1.1-2 model. The movement, finishes and dial engravings are similar.

The differences lie in the fact that its case is entirely made of 18-carat rose gold, as are the dial, lugs, fastening screws and three half-bridges visible through the back.

For the first time, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud has used rose gold for all these elements, thus ensuring a perfectly consistent appearance of the five FB 1.2-1 timepieces with that rosy glow.

Ferdinand Berthoud Astronomical Pocket Watch Nr. 3

To accompany this unprecedented chromatic development, the Manufacture chose a set of hands in blued gold for the hours, minutes and power reserve and in blued bronze for the central sweep-seconds hand. The blue colour is reminiscent of the blue steel hands on the Astronomical Pocket Watch Nr. 3.

Ferdinand Berthoud Oeuvre d’Or_FB1.1-2 dial closeup

Finally, for a smoother transition between dial and movement, the chamfers surrounding the tourbillon have been polished by hand, as have those around the power-reserve indication. Within these openings, the Manufacture alternates between straight-grained and circular satin-brushed decorations on the tourbillon and power reserve modules, thus highlighting each component according to its position, material and function.


FB 1.1-2 (white gold – 5 pcs):

CHF 282,500 (USD 297,000)

FB 1.2-1 (rose gold – 5 pcs):

CHF 258,000 (USD 271,000)


Heritage Conservation

Chronometrie Ferdinand Berthoud President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (photo by MTF) @ alphaluxe

Before acquiring the rights to the illustrious name of Ferdinand Berthoud, Mr Karl-Friedrich Scheufele had already built up an important collection of books and timepieces within the L.U.CEUM museum.

L.U.Ceum Fleurier (photo by MTF) @ alphaluxe

It has been constantly enriched ever since and it is now one of the world’s most important private horology museums. Its preservation is an integral part of the brand’s renaissance and its primary inspiration.

Ferdinand Berthoud Longitude Clock (photo by MTF) @ alphaluxe

The Manufacture’s latest acquisition, longitude clock No. XXX, has been the object of attentive restoration work. This undertaking lasted approximately eight months and called for the skills of a clockmaker, a historian and a cabinetmaker, amongst other trades. At the beginning of 2019, longitude clock No. XXX once again appears very much as it was back in 1787.


AlphaLuxe Comment

Ferdinand Berthoud Oeuvre d’Or_Master Watchmaker

By the very definition of the word ‘Oeuvre’, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud has always been about the best-of-the-best and not mass production or compromise. The body of work has been about chronometry and excellence. To this end, the ‘Oeuvre d’Or’ editions introduced at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2019 are further tributes to the patrimony of Ferdinand Berthoud.

Ferdinand Berthoud marine chronometer (photo by MTF) @ alphaluxe

With the confidence of successful previous editions, the Maison has, at a stroke, produced an edition (FB 1.2-1 rose gold) closest in aesthetic to the original Astronomical Pocket Watch Nr. 3 as well as the most flamboyant variant (FB 1.1-2 white gold) yet.


Previous Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud Articles

Ferdinand Berthoud Platinum Chronometer FB 1.3

Ferdinand Berthoud Regulator FB 1R.6-R

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronometer FB 1 Malaspina Edition ONLY ONE



Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)

Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He was former CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.

Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).

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