Unveiled in 2010, ‘Galet’ is the name of Laurent Ferrier’s first collection. This year at Baselworld they introduced a new shape to the line.
But firstly, for those who are unfamiliar with the brand – who and what is it?
For that we have to go back four decades to Patek Philippe, at which Mr Laurent Ferrier started working and where he continued to work as a watchmaker, for thirty-seven years. Perhaps in some part taking inspiration from the two decades of watchmaking in his family, he made that move from being a watchmaker for someone else to founding his own eponymous brand, officially launching his first model at Baselworld 2010. That was an eventful year, as an attentive watch world granted his Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral the ‘Best Men’s Watch’ Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG).
Since then, although still a small niche brand producing somewhere between 100-200 watches per annum, his watches have developed a reputation not just for their technical achievement but also for their quality and finishing. In some respects there is perhaps something simpatico between them and H.Moser et Cie, although they are quite different brands. Both place a strong emphasis on movements whilst maintaining an aesthetic that is very clean, pared-back, classically elegant, and both have a fierce independence to them.
The Galet collection remains their only one, with the current sub-categories of ‘Classic’, ‘Secret’, ‘Micro-Rotor’ (which is perhaps their most well-known model) and ‘Traveller’ for men, and the ‘Lady F’ line for women.
These are discreet watches, the sort that are not immediately noticeable when you wear it. However, this new case may be a little more attention-grabbing.
The new Galet Square measures 41mm x 41mm and is what is commonly referred to as a ‘cushion-case’ style. It is not only Laurent Ferrier’s first case of this shape but it is also the first time they’ve ventured away from precious metals to stainless steel.
Through the open caseback can be seen the hand-polished, hand-bevelled, satin-brushed automatic Calibre FBN 229.01 with micro-rotor. It has a three-day power reserve and is noteworthy not just for the micro-rotor but also for a silicon escapement with double direct impulse on the balance, developed by Laurent Ferrier.
What does this mean? Well the best thing to do is to let them speak for themselves. They describe it as follows:
“The double direct impulse on the balance
This proved to be a fascinating issue to which Laurent Ferrier and his son Christian decided to devote their full attention. Supported by Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini of the Fabrique du Temps, they fitted an exclusive double direct-impulse escapement in silicon directly on the balance – inspired by the father of modern horology, Abraham-Louis Breguet. Thanks to the excellent efficiency of this escapement, we are able to reduce the moment of couple (=torque) required to wind the mainspring and hence optimizes the movement winding.
What is the meaning of “double direct impulse on the balance”?
Inspired by the concept of the detent escapement our escapement has the advantage to give two impulses per oscillation (1 oscillation = 2 vibrations). This means that our movement frequency of 3Hz (21,600 vph) allows us to impulse our balance 21,600 times per hour.
To use a metaphor we can explain the double direct impulse by comparing with a swing:
• with a detent escapement you push the swing once and you wait until it bounces back to give it the next impulse;
• with the double direct impulse escapement you push the swing and another person opposite pushes it back on his side.”
This helps maximise energy efficiency and reduces the amount of mechanical force required to wind the mainspring, optimising winding.
The Galet Square comes with two dial choices. The first is a sunburst gold-toned dial with three white gold hour-markers at 12, 3 and 9 o’clock, as well as small seconds at 6 o’clock. The second dial is blue with a vertical satin-brushed finish with eleven white gold hour-markers.
For those who wonder about these things – rather whimsically, Laurent Ferrier explain the ‘Galet’ name (French for ‘pebble’) by way of a translation of a poem called ‘Les galets’ by poet/ writer/ explorer/ photographer/ artist/ illustrator/ filmmaker Paul Gayet-Tancrède alias Samivel (11 July 1907 – 18 February 1992).
Pebbles can indeed be round and squareish, and other shapes besides…
THE PEBBLES – SAMIVEL (partial translation from Laurent Ferrier)
On a pebble beach,
tell me what you see?
Pebbles as far as the eye can reach,
all apparently very much alike,
yet a closer look shows
that some are round and others square,
golden, garnet, jade, multicoloured…
LES GALETS – SAMIVEL
Sur une plage de galets
Que voit-on s’il vous plaît?
À perte de vue des galets
Qui vous paraissent tous semblables.
Mais regardez-y de plus près.
Certains sont rond. D’autres carrés,
Or, grenat, jade, bigarrés…
Dans ces foules incalculables
Qui s’effondrent sous les orteils
On en trouve pas deux pareils…
Il voit tous de même fabrique,
Le Sot, jetant un regard hâtif.
Mais le sage, plus attentif,
Sait bien que chaque Être est unique