After a really pleasant autumnal version with rose gold/salmon dial, Laurent Ferrier now launches a special version of the Galet Annual Calendar with a warm champagne/sand/yellow gold (chose your prefered name) dial designed to evoke the stylish vintage watches of the 1950s. Sophisticated and user-friendly, the new Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar “Vintage” is limited to five pieces. Identical in size, finishes and performance to former models in this family, the opaline yellow gold-toned dial fizzes with yesteryear elegance.
Launched at the SIHH 2018, Laurent Ferrier’s Galet Annual Calendar Montre Ecole was well received and took home the Men’s Complication prize during the prestigious GPHG watchmaking awards later that same year. Marking the brand’s fifth in-house complication, user-friendliness, smooth handling and legibility were key design directives during the development of the annual calendar. A relatively new complication patented by Patek Philippe in 1996, an annual calendar is the apogee of functionality and far more robust and price-friendly than the complex and delicate perpetual calendar. By taking into account months with 30 or 31 days, an annual calendar only needs one adjustment a year, on the 1st of March.
Revisited in different metals and with a range of dial colours, including this very attractive salmon dial evoking the colours of autumn, the latest Annual Calendar reasserts its vintage personality with this refined opaline yellow gold-toned dial.
Vintage to the core
The 40mm Galet Montre Ecole case gets its name from Laurent Ferrier’s 1968 graduation watch from the Geneva Watchmaking School and reflects the watchmaker’s admiration for the round shapes and clean lines of 19th-century pocket watches. Like a smooth, river-worn pebble (galet is the French for pebble), the watch is delectably smooth and beautiful to handle. The large ball-shaped crown is extremely easy to manipulate and is topped with a circular domed cap, just like the ones on the sides of the short lugs. Although stainless steel has been used in the past on this watch, including this handsome steel model with a blue dial, the combination of steel with a warm gold/champagne dial gives the watch an even higher dose of nostalgia.
The opaline yellow gold-toned dial of the Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar “Vintage” reveals the slightly sandy surface of the material and provides a matte, reflection-free background. This warm, rich colour on the dial, which contrasts with the cold steel case, recalls the gold or champagne dials that were popular on dress watches in the 1950s – just think back to some Patek Philippe Calatrava models of the 1950s to get the feel. The reference to the venerable Geneva Maison is hardly random. As anybody familiar with Laurent Ferrier’s career knows, the watchmaker spent 37 years at Patek Philippe – including a position as creative director from 1974 – before starting his own brand in 2010.
The layout of the dial is also inspired by mid-century full calendar watches. The date is indicated on the periphery of the dial with brown Arabic numerals (31 is picked out in red) and indicated with a long white central pointer hand. The days of the week and the months are displayed in two rectangular bevelled apertures with white backgrounds. Lastly, a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock with a snailed centre completes the indications on the dial.
Given the amount of information relayed on the dial, it is surprisingly uncluttered, balanced and extremely easy to read. You can really appreciate Laurent Ferrier’s design talent at work here: from the thin, elongated hour markers to the javelin-shaped Assegai hour hand, and from the discreet crosshair traversing the dial to the vintage typography of the Arabic numerals, it is an exceptionally well-conceived and designed watch.
Beyond the undeniable beauty of the external details of Laurent Ferrier’s annual calendar, the watch is also particularly easy to use. The large ball-shaped crown is not just an ode to yesterday; in addition to winding the movement and setting the time, the crown is the command centre for adjusting the date and month, all you need to do is turn the crown backwards or forwards to set the correct calendar information. To set the day of the week, there is a pusher on the caseband at 10 o’clock obviating the need for tools.
Clearly, this user-friendliness comes from the sophisticated movement powering this watch. The Galet Annual Calendar School Piece relies on a proprietary hand-wound movement with a traditional Swiss lever escapement. For the first time, Laurent Ferrier opted for a simpler solution with a standard Swiss lever escapement instead of the direct double-impulse found on the Galet Micro-Rotor. The movement also features a long “blade” type click ratchet, a technical feature reminiscent of pocket watches and a distinctive feature of LF’s first manual-winding movement used in the tourbillon double hairspring. The movement oscillates at 3Hz and offers a robust 80-hour power reserve indicated on the reverse side by a circular wheel with a sunburst finish.
The decoration of calibre 126.01 is contemporary and more technical than some of LF’s earlier models. The bridges are decorated with thick Geneva stripes and plated with dark ruthenium heightening the contrast with the steel and brass parts. The mainplate is embellished with perlage, the sides and interior angles are manually chamfered and all the jewel sinks and screw head are polished.
Availability and price
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar “Vintage” is presented on a honey alligator leather strap with matching Alcantara lining and the choice of a pin buckle or double-blade folding clasp. A limited-edition of just 5 pieces, the watch will retail for CHF 50,000.
More information at laurentferrier.ch.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.