GPHG Chronometry Watch Prize: Ferdinand Berthoud FB 2RE.2

A big naval watch of the 1770s was reduced to wristwatch size with a new interpretation of the same architecture. The legacy of the past has gained another dimension with new techniques.

In 1770, Ferdinand Berthoud was awarded the title of “Clockmaker and Mechanic by appointment to the French King and Navy” and produced high-end watches.  Ferdinand Berthoud is celebrating this 250th anniversary by unveiling a new collection inspired by the Marine Clock No.6: the Chronomètre FB 2RE. However, only watch historians and collectors knew the name Ferdinand Berthoud until just five years ago.

Chopard’s co-chairman of the board, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, set out from the watches of Master Ferdinand Berthoud, whom he gathered over the years, to preserve the name and legacy of this master, and to open a new window in watchmaking. Investments and efforts gave a magnificent conclusion finally. Ferdinand Berthoud brand unveiled its first watch in 2015. FB 1 model won the grand prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie Awards in 2016. At the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), Ferdinand Berthoud won the “Chronomerty Watch Prize” with its FB 2RE.2 model.



The mechanism of FB 2RE.2 has three remarkable and rare complications: Fusee-and-chain transmission, Remontoir d’égalité (the constant-force mechanism) and Deadbeat seconds. The combination of these remarkable watch systems provides an exceptional chronometric performance and stability.

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This new watch also reinterprets the architecture and design of the famous marine watch (Marine Clock No. 6). A large rectangular panoramic window appears at 10 o’clock along the case middle like previous models but unlike the previous hexagonal models, a round case structure was preferred.

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Marine Clock No. 6

As described by Ferdinand Berthoud in his Traité des horloges marines (Treatise on Marine Clocks) published in Paris in 1773, the mechanisms of Marine Clocks are protected by a cylindrical copper drum, itself held in a horizontal position by a gimbal suspension system that he invented.

The case of the Chronomètre FB 2RE picks up the shape of these Marine Clocks and this modular construction. The movement is installed in a cylindrical container made of 18-carat gold and water-resistant to 30 metres.

The enamel dial has a two-layer structure: One is domed, located on the periphery and designed to bear the graduated scale; while the second, positioned centrally and slightly lower, is a flat medallion. Both are made of grand feu enamel, which requires numerous firings in a special kiln at a temperature of 800°C.

The hour and minute hands are unusually positioned so close to the dial that they seem to be stuck to the surface. With the design of the 1770s, there is an extraordinary mechanism under this plain image with classical Roman numerals in the center and Arabic numerals in the frame.

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FB-RE.2 mechanism

The FB-RE.FC caliber is produced according to an architecture unique to Ferdinand Berthoud, which is unique in contemporary watch production. This mechanical movement with manual winding comprises 26 bridges held by 10 steel pillars, surrounding the mechanical parts. This construction is characteristic of 18th century Ferdinand Berthoud marine chronometers.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The mechanism of FB 2RE.2 has three remarkable and rare complications: Fusee-and-chain transmission, Remontoir d’égalité  and Deadbeat seconds.
  • Only the chain mechanism consists of 790 components.
  • FB 2RE.2 has one of the most complicated torque variations in the history of mechanism time-keeping.