Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB1 Malaspina Edition
Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud unveils its rarest Chronomètre FB 1 to date, since it is in fact one of a kind. The Chronomètre FB 1 Malaspina Edition is attired in rose gold framing a vertical satin-brushed silver-toned, blue-accented dial. Its Fine Watchmaking movement appears here in the version featuring sapphire half-bridges, highlighting the exceptional finishing and pillar-type structure of this calibre with tourbillon and constant-force transmission. Offering a decidedly modern take on the work of the master watchmaker, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud unveils a model paying tribute to Alessandro Malaspina, an explorer who left an indelible imprint on the latter end of the Age of Enlightenment. It stems from a judicious and passionate approach governed by the most demanding quality standards.
The latest interpretation of the Chronomètre FB1, the Malaspina Edition, is a one-of-a-kind model featuring a new colour combination: a rose gold case and a silver-toned dial enhanced with touches of blue. It belongs to the now well-established lineage of Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud special editions and pays homage to the expedition undertaken by Captain Alessandro Malaspina.
This expedition launched in 1788 with a scientific, political and cultural mission is now recognised as one of the most daring and rigorously executed that could possibly have been undertaken at the time. Aboard their two brand-new frigates, the captains were entirely dependent on navigating instruments such as the sextant, the compass, and above all marine chronometers – the only devices capable of determining longitude at sea.
By offering a modern take on the quest for excellence of the Master Watchmaker-Mechanic by appointment to the French King and Navy, Chronomètrie Ferdinand Berthoud highlights the progress in terms of science, time measurement and knowledge of the world to which Alessandro made an exemplary contribution – aided and abetted by Ferdinand Berthoud’s Marine Clocks Nos. 10 and 13
New Case Execution
The Chronomètre FB 1 Malaspina Edition measures 44 mm in diameter and is 13 mm thick. Crafted for the first time entirely in 18-carat rose gold, the case is identically shaped to the first three series of this Fine Watchmaking chronometer.
The case flanks featuring four lateral ‘portholes’ provide a chance to admire the operation of this fusee-and-chain mechanism and of the mobile cone-type power-reserve display. These apertures are complemented by a glareproofed sapphire crystal case-back serving to appreciate the quality of the movement finishing. An imposing knurled dynamometric crown in 18-carat rose gold ensures smooth winding of the movement with its 53-hour power reserve.
The watch features a dial with a complex structure composed of three distinct elements. The main plate is made of vertical satin-brushed silver-toned brass. A hollowed 12 o’clock galvanic blue subdial with transferred white Arabic numerals displays the hours and minutes. This offset construction is inspired by the marine chronometers that travelled with Malaspina on his exploratory voyage.
A central dial opening, graced with finely hand-bevelled chamfers, reveals the wheel driving the tourbillon carriage and the fourth (seconds) wheel, both of which are blued.
The seconds are displayed around the dial rim on a blued brass disc, enabling accurate reading of short times recalling that chronometric precision is the very essence of Ferdinand Berthoud timepieces.
The nature and provenance of the watch are clearly visible on this large dial, engraved with the inscription “Chronomètre Val-de-Travers Suisse” referring to the location of Ferdinand Berthoud workshops. More than a mere signature or appellation of origin, this is a proclamation of identity.
Characteristic Pillar-Type Structure
Calibre FB-T.FC-2 is built according to an architectural concept that is unique on the contemporary watchmaking scene. This hand-wound movement features 15 nickel silver bridges and three sapphire half-bridges, held up by polished titanium pillars surrounding the mechanical organs.
This construction is typical of 18th century marine chronometers and this demanding architectural blueprint is reflected in the design of all components, and above all in the symmetrical visual identity of the main movement sections.
Two-Fold Approach To Chronometry
Calibre FB-T.FC-2 is one of the rare movements to feature fusee-and-chain transmission, the oldest solution for supplying constant force to the escapement. It acts like an automatic gearbox, since the torque delivered by the barrel varies according to the level of wind.
When the movement is fully wound, the chain is entirely wrapped around the small end of the spindle-shaped fusee and the mainspring is at maximum power. The force dwindles over time and the chain coils around the drum, transitioning from the narrow to the broad end of the fusee. The varying diameter of the fusee compensates for the reduction in mainspring torque. The escapement thus receives a constant supply of energy, thereby equally out the amplitude of the balance wheel and improving the movement’s precision.
This accuracy also stems from its tourbillon, visible exclusively through the caseback and composed of 67 elements assembled within a 16.55 mm-diameter titanium carriage. It is fixed to an arrow-shaped steel arch. Another aspect that contributes to making this tourbillon so distinctive is the fact that it rotates at a rate of once per minute, but does not display the seconds. The Chronomètre Ferdinand Berthoud FB 1 is one of the rare tourbillons to have a central sweep-seconds hand. Extremely long, slender and made of gilded bronze, the latter indicates the seconds with great precision and remarkable stability.
Noble Materials And Treatments
The calibre’s three half-bridges are positioned on either side of the tourbillon, and between the barrel and the fusee. In this model, they are made of transparent sapphire. Their contours have been entirely chamfered, a supremely delicate and difficult operation given the hard and precious nature of this material.
The blued steel arrow-shaped tourbillon bridge is decorated with meticulous care. The upper face is mirror-polished, the flanks are straight-grained and the bevels are polished. All levels of the titanium tourbillon carriage are entirely chamfered and the power-reserve cone is mirror-polished. The 285 mm-long chain composed of 790 steel components is entirely hand-finished. The edges and studs are satin-brushed and the flat surfaces are polished.
These finishing operations performed on the components – whatever their position and their function – are hand-crafted using traditional tools by the artisans of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud. The quality control of these finishes is performed under a degree of magnification far greater than usual in the watch industry, a 6x loupe. At this kind of level, no detail, however tiny, can go unnoticed. No errors, imperfections or inadequacies are tolerated.
This respect for watchmaking tradition and its perpetual quest for excellence that is expressed in such a modern manner through Ferdinand Berthoud chronometers will remain central to all future developments by the Maison.
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB1 Malaspina Edition
Ref. FB 1.2-2
One-Of-A-Kind Model In 18-Carat Rose Gold
• Octagonal case in 18-carat rose gold fitted with four transparent sapphire portholes
Total diameter: 44 mm
Thickness: 13 mm
Water resistance: 30 metres
Crown diameter: 9 mm
Numbered edition: 1/1
• Dynamometric crown (uncoupling system) in 18-carat rose gold
• Screw-in case-back in 18-carat rose gold fitted with a glareproofed sapphire crystal
• Lugs and fastening bolt in 18-carat rose gold
• Domed and arched sapphire crystal, glareproofed on both sides
• Dial in vertical satin-brushed silver-toned galvanic brass
• Hand-bevelled central dial opening and power-reserve, gilded chamfers
• Offset circular satin-brushed galvanic opaline blue hours and minutes subdial with white Arabic numerals
• Blue railway-track seconds scale
• Power-reserve indication engraved on the mainplate “0_1/4_1/2_3/4_1”
• Autonomy indicated by an 18-carat rose gold arrow pointing to the words “HAUT” (HIGH) and “BAS” (LOW)
• “CHRONOMÈTRE VAL-DE-TRAVERS SUISSE” inscription
• Faceted cut-out sword-shaped hours and minutes hands in 18-carat rose gold
• 18-carat rose gold arrow-shaped power reserve hand
• Gilded bronze central sweep-seconds hand
Strap And Clasp:
• Rolled-edge blue alligator leather strap hand-sewn from a single piece of leather (115 x 75 mm with a 20 mm clasp) – Various sizes available on request
• 18-carat rose gold length-adjustable double-blade clasp – Pin buckle available on request
• Hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve
Mechanical hand-wound: Calibre FB-T.FC-2
Diameter: 35.50 mm
Thickness: 7.96 mm
Lignes: 15 ¾
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 53 hours
• Tourbillon with fusee-and-chain transmission (constant force)
Suspended fusee – differential winding system (PATENT)
Suspended barrel – Maltese Cross stopwork system (PATENT)
Suspended power reserve – mobile cone system (PATENT)
Reversed tourbillon with direct-drive seconds (PATENT)
• Variable-inertia balance wheel with four rhodium-plated nickel silver inertia weights
• Balance-spring with hand-crafted Phillips terminal curve (steel)
• Swiss lever escapement
• Three half-bridges in bevelled and engraved transparent sapphire, held by stylised titanium pillars
• Manual finishing meeting the highest watchmaking standards
Components: 1120 (including the chain)
Chain: 790 parts
Chain length: 285 mm
Half-bridges: 18, including three in sapphire
Rotation: 1 /minute
Tourbillon carriage: Ø 16.55 mm (titanium)
Tourbillon carriage held by: three polished titanium pillars
Tourbillon carriage poised by: two blued 18-carat gold weights
Balance-wheel: Ø 12 mm in rhodium-plated CuBe
Officially chronometer-certified by the COSC
The price for the Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB1 Malaspina Edition is CHF 225,500.