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Laurent Ferrier returns to his racing roots with Grand Sport Tourbillon

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Laurent Ferrier is renowned for its perfect movements, its passion for detail and artisan skills, its classic dress watches. It is not thought of as a sporty brand for today’s breed of enthusiasts for professional steel on steel timekeepers.

They said the same about Patek Philippe before (and since) the Nautilus was born.

Laurent Ferrier’s passion for classical watches on elegant leather straps is peculiar in some ways because Laurent Ferrier, the watchmaker’s eponymous owner, is racing mad.

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Back in the 1970s, he competed at the Le Mans 24 Hour race seven times and, in 1979, came third with co-driver François Servanin, who later became co-founder of Laurent Ferrier in 2008.

This makes the launch earlier this year of the Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon more understandable, and the timing could not be better because the world cannot get enough of steel sports watches that can be worn every day, but have the watchmaking and artisanal chops of a watchmaker like Mr Ferrier.

Another passion of Laurent Ferrier is the tourbillon.

In 2010, the company wpm the GPHG Best Men’s Watch Award for its Classic Tourbillon with its hand-wound movement featuring a tourbillon and a double balance spring.

The Grand Sport Tourbillon uses with the same movement, and Laurent Ferrier has had the insouciance to expose it only through the watch’s crystal caseback; a secret that only the owner knows.

This keeps the uncluttered dial, which fades from black at the edge to opaline in the center, clear for just hours and minutes hands and a small subtle small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock.

A second model has a smoked taupe-coloured dial and is worn on a rubber strap.

With both models, distinctively shaped white gold hour markers and hands use orange Superluminova to dramatic effect.

There will only be 12 of each watch produced. They go on sale this month for $185,000.

Laurent Ferrier has never made a watch with an integrated steel bracelet, but looks like an instant master of the difficult process by creating artistic contrasts between satin and polished finishes on a three row arrangement of rounded links.

The 44mm case and cushion-shaped uses the same combination of satin and polished steel.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder