Powered by a mechanical movement featuring a novel construction and a cylindrical balance-spring, this timepiece approaches the core theme of precision from a new angle. It took two years to perfect the adjustments of the regulating organ before obtaining official “chronometer” certification (ISO 3159 standard): a first for such a movement. This new FB 3 collection draws its stylistic, technical and aesthetic inspiration from a rare and exceptional creation: the No. 26 decimal watch.
Originating from the workshop founded by Ferdinand Berthoud in Paris after being awarded his “maîtrise” (master of horology title) in 1753, this creation is signed by his nephew, Louis Berthoud. It is the symbol of a revival in this post-revolutionary period, during which marine chronometers – measuring instruments intended for naval use in the 18th century – paved the way for watchmaking of very high quality, pare-down and firmly rooted in the 19th century and its civil applications. The Chronomètre FB 3SPC reflects this historical and horological transition.
This new mechanical movement is based on a cylindrical balance-spring, a rare watchmaking speciality on which Ferdinand Berthoud himself worked. His nephew, Louis Berthoud, favoured its use in his famous No. 26 decimal watch. Calibre FB-SPC is the only one of its kind to satisfy the chronometric (precision timekeeping) criteria of the COSC: ISO 3159 certification made possible only by the precision adjustments performed by the Manufacture’s watchmakers. In addition to the development of a new variable-inertia balance-spring, equipped with four fine adjustment screws and 12 load screws, many months of research, testing and fine-tuning were necessary to define the number of coils and the geometry of the terminal curve at the attachment points in order to optimise rate precision.
While the FB 1 and FB 2 collections belong to the legacy of Ferdinand Berthoud‘s marine chronometers, the FB 3 collection borrows from the style of the Master’s nephew, student and successor: Pierre-Louis Berthoud (1754-1813) known as “Louis Berthoud”. Born in 1754 in Couvet, in the Val-de-Travers, the latter moved to Paris at his uncle’s request. In 1784, having skilfully assisted in the making and improving of his distinguished relative’s marine chronometers, he was entrusted by Ferdinand Berthoud with the responsibility of his workshop, located since 1754 on Rue de Harlay, running along the Place Dauphine in Paris.
Under his impetus, private watchmaking experienced considerable expansion. Louis Berthoud added his personal touch, which can be seen in the aesthetics of the mechanism. He inaugurated a style that was rooted in the highly functional appearance of marine chronometers, where function dictated form. He developed these pragmatic designs at a time when the spirit of the age was shifting from the baroque and opulent style of the monarchy to neo-classicism during the early days of the Republic and subsequently the Empire. Thanks to his exceptional talent, Louis Berthoud made the workshop’s activity bear fruit by naturally accompanying the societal and stylistic changes of his time.
This inspiration is evident at first glance in the FB3 collection. Its new round case, available in 18-carat white or rose gold, recalls the curves of pocket watches from the early 19th century, such as the decimal watch No. 26, made in 1793 by Louis Berthoud and now on display within the Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud heritage collection in Fleurier.
A single line hugs the curves of the domed crystal and the slender polished bezel of the FB 3 models, while harmoniously extending along the strap and the lugs screwed to the case. This refined and coherent ensemble echoes the slimness of the case (42 mm in diameter and 9.43 mm thick), which fades into the background so as to make way for the spectacular movement.
The other deep-seated characteristic of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud lies in the desire to create movements with a legible, graphic and three-dimensional architecture. The mainplate is placed at the heart of Calibre FB-SPC and the components are assembled on either side of it. On the dial side, a close-knit array of six bridges traces curves and lines directly inspired by the work of Louis Berthoud. They are echoed on the back by ten other bridges forming an intimately juxtaposed mosaic.
The Chronomètre FB 3SPC is available in two versions. The first features an 18-carat white gold case, 2N pale yellow gold movement components and an eggshell-coloured dial in sandblasted silver-toned brass. The second is equipped with an 18-carat 5N rose gold case framing a black-varnished minutes track with black-rhodium-treated visible movement components. Their facetted, skeletonised and open-tipped 18-carat gold hands are inspired by a 1785 Ferdinand Berthoud astronomical regulator belonging to the Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud heritage collection in Fleurier.
The gold used in the production of Chronomètre FB 3SPC models stems from the ethical sourcing process instated by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele – President and Founder of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud – at Chopard, of which he is also Co-President.
The Chronomètre FB 3SPC thus perpetuates one of the most emblematic stylistic elements of Louis Berthoud’s era, the post-revolutionary years of the early 19th century, when the pocket watch entered a new technical age. The Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud collection thus gains a new territory of expression, still rooted in historical chronometry, while its degree of finishing and its level of quality remain unchanged. Production of the Chronomètre FB 3SPC is naturally limited by the capacities of the Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud workshop in Fleurier to a maximum of 25 of these timepieces per year.