Hands-On: Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 1.3

As far as avant-garde watchmaking goes, I prefer to save my praise for watches that go unnoticed to the large majority of the watch-interested population. Softly speak the words “Ferdinand Berthoud” to the average watch-rat (definition: someone who spends the majority of their time following the happenings of the horological world) and I can almost guarantee that they’d have very little idea as to who or what Ferdinand Berthoud is. And with that said, I’d like to introduce you to the Chronomètre FB 1.3 in platinum, an ingeniously modest timepiece that is as distinctive as it is reserved.

One of the most challenging aspects with respect to writing about watches is trying to explain their complexities and intricacies. I like to write about a watch’s mechanical prowess as though I’m speaking to someone who has little to no idea about tourbillons, perpetual calendars, chain and fusées, chronographs and chronometers. The challenge with writing about such a high-end timepiece like the Chronomètre FB 1.3 is that trying to break down its details is really quite difficult. So instead I’ll just explain the Chronomètre FB 1.3’s movement briefly.

The Chronomètre FB 1.3 is powered by the Calibre FB-T.FC, an in-house manufactured manually wound movement that is comprised of a fusée and chain transmission and a tourbillon. In that you have a constant-force regulation system, a suspended fusée and chain transmission and a differential winding system. There’s a tourbillon with a central seconds hand as well as a power reserve indicating the Chronomètre FB 1.3’s very impressive 53-hour power reserve.

The 44mm octagonal platinum case is finished wonderfully well, and the domed sapphire crystal adds a bit of a visual spectacle to the piece’s profile. The crown is made of platinum with an anthracite grey ceramic inlay, as are the lugs. The vertically brushed and satin finished dial is made of nickel silver and is seriously beautiful.

I think that the contrast between the shine of the case and the off-white colour of the dial matches perfectly. The exposed movement in the middle of the watch gives the wearer a bit more movement to the dial, and turning the piece around you’re going to be able to see in full view the wonderful calibre architecture that, in my opinion, really elevates the Chronomètre FB 1.3 into haute horlogerie standing. The bronze central seconds hand matches the darkness of the outer chapter ring and hours/minutes sub-dial at 12 o’clock, as do the 18k gold hour, minute and power-reserve hands.

There is very little wrong with the Chronomètre FB 1.3 from an aesthetic stand point. Yes, its design is different to what we all know and love about watchmaking. It reminds me of something from Romain Gauthier, F. P Journe, De Bethune and even a bit of Laurent Ferrier. While some may note the piece’s somewhat obscure look, I quite enjoyed its intriguing nature. It really captivates, making you want to look closer and closer and closer. And from whatever angle you do end up looking at the Chronomètre FB 1.3, mark my words you will be impressed. The Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 1.3 in platinum is a highly inventive timepiece that brings the worlds of traditional watchmaking and contemporary aesthetics together beautiful in a package that is just faultless.

Retail Price: $260,400 Usd. For more info. on Ferdinand Berthoud, Click Here.