New: F.Berthoud Régulateur Squelette – live pics and comprehensive review

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Ferdinand Berthoud released their first ever skeleton watch, now released as the Ref. FB 1RS.6 and FB 2RS.2 – one movement, limited to 20 pieces, in two case options. We got our hands on the octagonal version – the FB1 RS.6. Here is our in-depth review.

Two references are announced. One housed in the signature Berthoud octagonal case (Ref. FB1 RS.6) in a stainless steel, and the other in a classic round case (Ref. FB2 RS.2) in a rose gold. Both house the same movement – the FB-T.FC-RS, which is limited to only 20 examples. The limited edition is constrained by the number of movements available.

Review: F. Berthoud Régulateur Squelette FB 1RS.6

Retail pricing is set at FB 1RS.6 : SGD 344’000.00 (CHF 235’000.00), FB 2RS.2 : SGD 357’000.00 (CHF 244’000.00). SGD is inclusive of GST. The FB 1RS.6 is a small premium of CHF 5,000 over the regular FB1R.6-1.

Berthoud naming nomenclature has always been a mouthful, and slightly confusing. They have made some tweaks to align them to some form of standard, so perhaps it may be worth a few minutes to explain. The FB1 refers to the models in the octagonal case and the FB2 in the round case. From the first FB 1 (now renamed FB 1.1) to FB 1.3, the digit after the decimal denotes the case material being offered, from white gold (1) to rose gold (2) and platinum (3). FB 1.4 is in titanium. Then came the FB1 R.5 which is in a patina-ed bronze case, and finally the FB 1.6 in a special hardened stainless steel. Variants in the same case material are denoted as a hyphenated digit after the case material code. The first FB 2RE are in WG and RG denoted by the digit 1 or 2 after the decimal respectively. The letters that come after the case denotes the complication. R for Régulateur, L for Lune, and RE for Remontoir d’égalité. In this latest model, we see RS, standing for Régulateur Squelette. Hence our review model, the FB 1RS.6 is the octagonal model (FB1), with the regulator skeleton movement (RS) in stainless steel. The other model is the FB 2.RS.2 which translates as the round model (FB2), the RS means it is the regulator skeleton movement, and in rose gold (2).

The new F. Berthoud Régulateur Squelette FB1 RS.6 is a development over the first Berthoud regulator – the FB 1R and is the first Berthoud wrist watch to feature skeletonizing as an added complication.

For a complete in-depth review of the first iteration, please read our F. Berthoud FB 1R.6-1 review.

We only managed to get hold of the octagonal cased FB1 RS.6, so we present this watch here.

The case, dial and hands

The case is the now already familiar FB1 case. The case middle is octagonal, with a round, sloped bezel on the front and another on the back. The case material is in a special hardened stainless steel. Both bezels are fitted with anti-reflective coating on both sides. As a result, the watch dial and case back view of the movement is clear and glare proof.

The dial is also the same as the one for the FB1 R.6-1. With a huge centrally mounted seconds hand (unusual for a tourbillon), a sub-dial at 12 o’clock for the minutes, and an aperture at about 2 o’clock position to show the digital hours.

The dial has a depression cut out from about 8 o’clock to 11 o’clock to allow the power reserve mechanism to be displayed. This remains unchanged from the non-skeleton version.

The power reserve indicator.

But instead of the blank brushed dial surface below the subdials and power reserve which was the negative space component so loved by many (meaning us!), is now opened to show the sapphire disc of the hour sub-dial, as well as the rest of the movement train, including the rear of the tourbillon.

The tourbillon bridge, in the shape of an A frame, is visible on the dial side is a show of virtuosity. This is the original intent of tourbillons, especially in a wrist watch (as opposed to a pocket watch) – to showcase the expertise of the watchmaker. This bridge is magnificently mirror polished with chamfered edges and polished flanks. The jewel holder is in a high polish dish shape holding a gold chaton which holds the jewel. The underside, which is not visible is sand blasted. This multitude of finishing styles on a small component requires craftsmen of different specialities working together on each part.

The rear of the tourbillon as seen from the dial side.

The overall look of the watch is a rather imposing one, with a strong wrist presence which emanate not from the physical size, but as a result of the powerful aesthetics on the dial side. The watch looks as complicated as it actually is, unlike the sober impression of the FB1 R.6-1 whose massive negative space on the dial covers up the complexity of the movement. The watch has a nice heft to it, as the case is in stainless steel, and we can imagine the rose gold version will be a bit heavier on the wrist.

The movement – FB-T.FC-RS

The nomenclature for the movement is slightly less confusing. Here the T stands for tourbillon, FC for fusée-chain, and RS for Régulateur Squelette. From the case back, the movement looks exactly the same as the FB-T.FC.R. We have described the movement in great detail in the original review. However, major changes have been made to the dial side where the movement bridges and plates have been redesigned and opened up to showcase the wheel train and movement parts.

The view from the caseback is no different from the regular FB1R

Many components feature black PVD coating, alternating with polished, matt, vertical satin-brushed and sandblasted finishes. We have already discussed the tourbillon as seen from the dial side. But from the back, it is even more magnificent. The tourbillon and its single arm cock is splendidly finished. The arm features an attachment plate which is a stylised arrow head. The cock is beautifully hand-polished and chamfered. The 67 components of the tourbillon are assembled within the titanium carriage with the signature large size of 15.66mm diameter. Poising duties of the escapement is via two 18k gold inertia blocks and the movement is COSC certified.

The tourbillon as seen from the case back. Also visible in this photograph is the fusée-chain system with the chain links visible on the upper right of the image.

The movement components are black PVD coated and feature alternate polished, matte, vertical satin-brushed and sandblasted finishes. This variety of finishes are a treat to the eye. Overall, the finissage is superb, and at the ultimate top level, as befitting a watch in this price category.

Competitive landscape

The candidates in this landscape remain pretty much the same as the one for the original FB1R 6-1, as we did not find an exact match to the specifications of being a regulator watch with fusée-chain constant force system driving a tourbillon which is skeletonized.

We think the closest candidate is still the Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite by A. Lange & Söhne, as it is the closest to the feature list. The RLPLM is a regulator, it has a fusée-chain constant force system driving a tourbillon. But there is no skeletonization offered. In fact, to date, Lange has yet to release a skeletonized watch. The closest they have come to one is perhaps via their various Lumen watches, like the first Lumen – the Zeitwerk Phantom.

Concluding thoughts

One of the reasons why we love the FB 1R.6-1 is the magnificent use of negative space on the dial. The dial is almost blank, with only the key components shown – the sub-dial for the minutes, an open aperture to show the digital hours. A huge seconds hand, and the power reserve indicator. Even the tourbillon is not visible from the dial side. Such is the beauty of its minimalism. In a way, this new FB 1RS.6 changes that negative space game. The vibe is gone. And in its place, a gorgeously open work dial, showcasing the back of the tourbillon and its superbly finished A shaped bridge. Also visible is the entire hour disc, and the other components of the wheel train.

As with the FB 1R.6-1, the 44 mm x 14.26 mm case wears nicely on the wrist.

In a way, the Régulateur Squelette is the more showy brother of the Régulateur. Both hold their own, and are equally attractive. And it is up to the beholder to decide which fits his own personality more.

Photography notes

All photographs were made in the Chopard offices in Singapore with the Hasselblad H3D-39 with either the HC 4/120 Macro or HC 2.8/80 lens with and without the H28 extension tube. Profoto strobes were used.

Technical specifications

REF. FB 1RS.6

CASE
• Octagonal case in ultra-resistant carburised stainless steel, fitted with two transparent sapphire portholes
Total diameter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 mm
Thickness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.95 mm
Water resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 metres
Crown diameter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 mm

• Dynamometric crown (decoupling system) in carburised stainless steel, with black ceramic medallion
• Carburised stainless steel screw-in case-back with glare-proofed sapphire crystal
• Domed, arched sapphire crystal, glare-proofed on both sides

DIAL
• Openworked regulator plate (dial) in vertical satin-brushed black PVD-treated nickel silver
• Hours indication on sapphire disc at 2 o’clock
• Openworked, sandblasted and silver-toned minutes dial at 12 o’clock, with black Arabic numerals
• Flat seconds inner bezel ring framing the sapphire dial
• “0_1” grey-coloured power-reserve indication engraved on the regulator plate at 10 o’clock

HANDS
• Facetted and openworked dagger-type minutes hand in 18-carat white gold with blue CVD treatment
• Steel fixed hours pointer
• Arrow-shaped power-reserve hand in steel
• Rhodium-plated bronze central sweep-seconds hand

STRAP AND CLASP/BUCKLE
• Hand-sewn rolled-edge alligator leather strap made from a single piece of leather (125 x 70 mm – Various sizes available on request
• Titanium double-blade length-adjustable folding clasp with carburised stainless steel cap – Pin buckle available on request.

REF. FB 2RS.2

The Ref. FB1Rs.2 is offered in a 18k rose gold round case.

CASE
• Round case in 18-carat rose gold, fitted with a transparent sapphire porthole
Total diameter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 mm
Thickness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.26 mm
Water resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 metres
Crown diameter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 mm

• Dynamometric crown (decoupling system) in carburised stainless steel, with black ceramic medallion
• 18-carat rose gold screw-in case-back with glare-proofed sapphire crystal
• Domed, arched sapphire crystal, glare-proofed on both sides

DIAL
• Openworked regulator plate (dial) in vertical satin-brushed black PVD-treated nickel silver
• Hours indication on sapphire disc at 2 o’clock
• Openworked, sandblasted and silver-toned minutes dial at 12 o’clock, with black Arabic numerals
• Flat seconds inner bezel ring framing the sapphire dial
• “0_1” grey-coloured power-reserve indication engraved on the regulator plate at 10 o’clock

HANDS
• Facetted and openworked dagger-type minutes hand in 18-carat white gold with blue CVD treatment
• Steel fixed hours pointer with blue CVD treatment
• Aarrow-type power-reserve hand in 18-carat rose gold
• Gilded bronze central sweep-seconds hand

STRAP AND CLASP/BUCKLE
• Hand-sewn rolled-edge alligator leather strap made from a single piece of leather (125 x 70 mm) – Various sizes available on request
• 18-carat rose gold double-blade length-adjustable folding clasp – pin buckle available on request.

Limited production (encompassing all types of case) . . . 20 movements

FUNCTIONS
• Hours appearing on a disc at 2 o’clock, pointer-type minute display at 12 o’clock, central sweep-seconds hand and power-reserve indication at 10 o’clock

MOVEMENT
Mechanical hand-wound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Calibre FB-T.FC.RS
Diameter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37,30 mm
Thickness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,89 mm
Lignes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 ¾
Jewels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Frequency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Power reserve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53 hours
Limited production (encompassing all types of case) . . . 20 movements

TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS
• Tourbillon with fusée-chain transmission (constant force)
Suspended fusée – winding differential system (PATENT)
Suspended barrel – Maltese cross stopwork system (PATENT)
Suspended power reserve – mobile cone system (PATENT)
Tourbillon with direct-drive seconds (PATENT)
• Regulator-type display
• Power-reserve indicator with levers and spiral spring
• Variable-inertia balance with four gilded nickel silver inertia blocks
• Balance-spring with hand-shaped Philips terminal curve (steel)
• Swiss lever escapement
• Openworked and engraved black PVD-treated nickel silver semi-bridges, supported by polished stylised pillars
• Hand-crafted finishes in keeping with the highest watchmaking standards
Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,158 (including the chain)
Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .790 components
Chain length . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .285 mm
Half-bridges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Pillars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Tourbillon
Rotation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 /minute
Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Tourbillon carriage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ø 16.55 mm (titanium)
Tourbillon carriage supported by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 polished titanium pillars
Tourbillon carriage balanced by. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 poising weights in 18K gold
Balance-wheel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ø 12 mm (cupro-beryllium)

Officially chronometer-certified by the COSC

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