Swan Song: Ferdinand Berthoud Calls Time on Its Iconic Fusée-and-Chain Calibre with the Chronomètre FB 2T
The high-end brand from Fleurier has announced a stunning final edition of its emblematic fusée-and-chain tourbillon movement.
Indeed, after the brand debuted its first timepiece in 2015, the FB 1 – which won the aiguille d’or top prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève a year later – that piece’s base calibre, the FB-T.FC, has proved to be an adaptable mechanical platform over time.
So much so, in fact, that the calibre FB-T.FC movement, with its top-notch chronometry, superlative hand-decoration, and pillar-and-plate architecture inspired by the marine chronometers of the 18th-century master watchmaker Ferdinand Berthoud, has played a starring role in establishing the modern-day brand as one of haute horlogerie’s finest denizens since Chopard Group and its co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele revived the distinguished Berthoud name eight years ago.
In that time, Scheufele and his Fleurier-based team have used it to power regulator, skeletonized, and full oven-fired enamel displays. The brand has even tweaked it to incorporate a remontoire escapement as well as independent deadbeat seconds, stop-seconds, and astronomical complications.
Sadly, all good things, as they say, must come to an end: Recently Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud announced calibre FB-T.FC will be making its swan song in the form of this rather fetching Chronomètre FB 2T that the brand unveiled at Watches & Wonder 2023.
Best for Last?
And what a final edition it is! This Chronomètre FB 2T could be, quite possibly, the best of the bunch so far, looks-wise. That’s because it features the original dial configuration of the FB 1 – a vertically grained dial plate with an hour and minute sub-dial at 12 o’clock, a power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock, and a 60-second tourbillon at 6 o’clock directly driving the central seconds – combined, for the first time, with a classical, round 44mm case. Previously, this FB 1-style layout had only been available with an octagonal case.
While customers will be able to choose the case material – from yellow, white, or rose gold, platinum, titanium, or even carburized steel – as well as the tonality and finishing of the dial plate, the brand has whetted collectors’ appetites by presenting three stunning “demonstration” references.
First, the Ref. FB 2T.1 is in white gold with a blue CVD dial and white gold hands. Second, the Ref. FB 2T.2 is in rose gold with a blackened dial and rose gold hands. And finally, the Ref. FB 2T.2.1 also has a rose gold case but has a dark gray ruthenium-treated dial and blue CVD hands. Meanwhile, the default strap for each is made from a hand-sewn alligator leather and fastened by an 18K gold, length-adjustable, twin-blade folding clasp.
Inspired by the watchmaker Ferdinand Berthoud’s Marine Clock No.6, the round case features a lateral watertight porthole at 9 o’clock that affords views of Ferdinand Berthoud’s fusée-and-chain system that is once again used to compensate for the diminishing torque of the mainspring over its 53-hour power reserve to deliver constant force to the escapement. That and the gravity-fighting tourbillon helped the FB 2T, like all Ferdinand Berthoud timepieces, to achieve COSC certification.
The spectacle presented through the display caseback doesn’t disappoint either: The inverted fusée and mainspring barrel-plus-stopwork form a visual triumvirate with the tourbillon, which is supported by an elegant, arrow-headed balance bridge.
Lastly, thanks to the astute deployment of sapphire bridges, we also get to see the suspended, truncated cone and mobile arm that help transmit the state-of-wind information to the dial-side power reserve indicator.
Two years ago, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud announced that its limited editions would henceforth be defined by the number of movements made, which was stated from the outset, ensuring the rarity of its timepieces while giving collectors the potential to customize them.
In the case of the Chronomètre FB 2T, only 38 movements will be made. As for the three FB 2T references presented here, the price for each one is CHF 255,000, including Swiss VAT.
The calibre FB-T.FC has, to a large extent, been the embodiment of the Ferdinand Berthoud name in its modern guise. While it will be a shame to say farewell to it, the Chronomètre FB 2T is a fitting send-off. What’s more, we can be pretty certain that the brand will continue to wow us with exciting new developments, especially if last year’s Chronomètre FB 3SPC with cylindrical hairspring is anything to go by.