An octagonal case, a tourbillon movement with fusee-and-chain transmission and a pillar-based construction… The Chronomètre FB 1 has played a major role in defining the identity of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud. Released in 2015, it was the watch that marked the return of a glorious name, one of the most important of horology. Since the presentation of the collection, this series of watches was equipped with a demonstrative movement, combining constant force and anti-gravity devices (and a decoration done in the best possible way), the Calibre FB-T.FC. But it is now preparing to take a last bow, in the form of a final 38-piece edition presented for the first time with a round case; the Chronomètre FB 2T.
In 2015, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, the co-president of Chopard and the President of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, somehow made one of his dreams come true; the resurrection of one of the most important historical names of horology. His concept was to offer a contemporary vision of what could have been a watch designed and manufactured by Berthoud, more than 200 years after he passed away. And if the result took shape of a bold, octagonal wristwatch, the mechanics were as traditional and high-end as one could have imagined. The first watch, which we covered in this in-depth article, was powered by a hand-wound movement, with pillar construction, combining a rare fusee-and-chain transmission with constant force and a one-minute tourbillon. This calibre FB-T.FC was followed by two other movements, the Calibre FB-RE.FC with fusee-and-chain too but a classic regulator with remontoire, and the Calibre FB-SPC, with an entirely new architecture, and openworked construction.
We’ve seen multiple variations around what was the inaugural movement, including editions with a regulator display and hidden tourbillon, or a version with astronomical functions. But a decision has been taken. This year will be the last chapter of this collection and its movement. Ferdinand Berthoud turns the page of this watch with a limited series of 38 movements, which for the first time will be available in a round case – which has been first seen in the Chronomètre FB 2RE collection.
44mm in diameter, the shape and design of this final series vary greatly compared to most previous models, which were characterized by their bold and rather unique octagonal case. The Chronomètre FB 2T is round, and it somehow feels slightly more present on the wrist than the faceted case. What remains is the use of a lateral porthole in sapphire, offering a view of the mechanics inside. The final series, as said, is limited to 38 movements, with a choice of 3 different styles for the case/dial combination. It is available either in 18k white or 18k pink gold. All are made entirely of this material – no contrasting ceramic elements here – and worn on an alligator leather strap closed by a length-adjustable twin-blade folding clasp.
As for the dial, we find back the signature display of this collection, consisting of an off-centred sub-dial for the hours and minutes at 12 o’clock and a central sweeping seconds hand. These final editions stick to the style that was created for the first models, with the power reserve engraved on the main-plate at 9 o’clock, and the double opening for the tourbillon and the direct-drive seconds system. It will be available in white gold with a blue CVD dial and white gold hands, in pink gold with a black rhodium dial and pink gold hands, and finally in pink gold with a grey ruthenium dial and blue CVD hands. On all editions, the sub-dial and seconds track are silver-toned with black-varnished inscriptions.
As said, this series of Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2T marks the end of the calibre Calibre FB-T.FC-2… And what a movement it was. Built around an old-school pillar construction, just like marine clocks designed by Berthoud, this chronometer-certified movement was characterized by the technical choices, all of which are both extremely traditional and technically advanced. The energy supply consists of an inverted fusee and a barrel, both suspended and linked by a chain (with no fewer than 792 parts) ensuring constant force throughout the entire 53-hour power reserve. Located at the top of the barrel, a Maltese Cross stopwork device mechanically limits the operating range of the mainspring where its torque is most constant.
Also, the escapement relies on a one-minute tourbillon, with a central seconds that is directly engaged by the tourbillon carriage (a patented system). The movement that will soon disappear is presented here in a modern form, with 3 of its numerous bridges crafted from transparent sapphire crystal – thus offering a stunning view of all the parts, including the innovative cone and filler for the power reserve. The decoration, as always with Berthoud, is entirely done by hand using traditional techniques.
The Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 2T “Final Edition” watches are presented in 3 references, but these are used as sources of inspiration for collectors who will have the opportunity to create their own customised timepiece by choosing the case material, the colour and the finishing of the dial and the leather strap. The only limit is the shape of the case, the round case presented in 2020 with the FB 2RE Remontoir d’Egalité collection. Only 38 pieces will be made, with a price that will depend on the customisation options – expect between 250k and 300k euros.
For more details, please visit www.ferdinandberthoud.ch. And while I’m slightly sad to see this movement leaving the collection, I’m sure the brand will have far more fascinating calibres soon.