Chopard’s Karl Friedrich Scheufele, the man behind the revival of Ferdinand Berthoud’s name into a fully-fledged brand, fielded a lot of questions during the Watches & Wonders 2021 online presentation/ Q&A. For me, the most interesting nugget of information was not about the watches that are the subject of today’s post, nor about how personalisation is a topic that can be discussed with potential clients, nor even about the possibility of smaller models (that would entail the development of entirely new movements).
It was their production numbers.
This is a specialised/ niche brand focused on movements bearing the name of a man whose name does not have a widespread recognition factor, and priced at the upper end. Their production targets are low because they lack the capacity to increase them any higher, but what I found most interesting is that since 2018, they have never exceeded thirty watches per annum. The estimate is 25-27 pieces for 2021. Yes these are not high numbers at all in a broad sense, even for a very small brand, but they have but a handful of watchmakers, and the numbers are nonetheless higher than I had thought they would be, and I am pleasantly surprised.
The new Chronomètre FB RS (Regulateur Squelette) is based on the FB-T.FC-RS calibre, and the production of this movement will be strictly limited to a total of twenty.
The FB-T.FC-RS is their first skeletonised movement. This regulator COSC-certified movement with tourbillon and fusée-and-chain transmission is inspired by Berthoud’s Marine Clock No. 8 (1768). At 2 o’clock is an opening through which a large sapphire disc indicates the hours, whilst the minutes are on a dial at 12 o’clock, the power reserve indicator between 10 o’clock and 11 o’clock, and the seconds are displayed on a flat sapphire inner bezel ring. There is also a central sweep seconds hand. In fact, this new model basically looks like the skeletonised variant of the Chronomètre FB 1R.6-1.
The open-worked dial is vertically stain-brushed black PVD-treated nickel silver. The minutes dial is open-worked, sand-blasted and silver-toned, with black Arabic numerals. The power reserve indicator is engraved onto the regulator plate.
The bridges have been designed to maximise the view of the tourbillon, which is visible on the dial side. The tourbillon bridge has mirror-polished and chamfered surfaces, polished flanks, and sandblasted underside. As you can see, many of the movement’s components feature black PVD coating, alternating with polished, matte, vertical satin-brushed and sand-blasted finishes.
The manually-wound FB-T.FC-RS tourbillon and fusée-chain movement features a (six) pillar-type structure in which the barrel and the reverse fusée are both suspended and patented. The power reserve indicator has a suspended truncated cone that moves up and down along an arbor connected to the barrel. The movement beats at 21,600 VPH and has a power reserve of 53 hours. It has 1,158 components, including the chain.
Ferdinand Berthoud are offering two variants (and a reminder that it’s twenty pieces in total) – the FB 1RS.6 with an octagonal case in carburised stainless steel, and the FB 2RS.2 with a round case in 18kt rose gold. Because of the ties between Ferdinand Berthoud and Chopard, they can take advantage of the latter – the gold is certified ethical gold.
The movement may be the same, but there are some slight differences between the two variants.
The FB 1RS.6 is fitted with two portholes (we mentioned these in our earlier post – they are the means by which the fusée chain can be seen) and the FB 2RS.2 has one porthole. The carburised steel case is 44mm with a thickness of 13.95mm, water resistance of 30m, and has a crown in carburised steel. The rose gold model is also 44mm but has a thickness of 14.26mm, the same water resistance, and its crown is, of course 18kt rose gold.
Both models come on leather straps with either a titanium double-blade adjustable folding clasp with carburised stainless steel, or an18kt rose gold adjustable folding clasp. The RRP is CHF 235,000 (including taxes) for the carburised steel FB 1RS.6 and CHF 244,000 (including taxes) for the FB 2RS.2.
[Photo credit: Ferdinand Berthoud]