Laurent Ferrier releases a new Sport Auto model, inspired by the Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711, and a tribute to Laurent’s adventures as a young man.
Press Release information with commentary in italics.
This new release by Laurent Ferrier is interesting for several reasons:
- Although Laurent himself has not declared the design as being inspired by the Patek Philippe Nautilus, it is obvious that it is. However, do keep in mind that Mr. Ferrier himself was working in Patek Philippe for many years. including being personally involved in the making of the Nautilus prototype.
- We think is intended to fill the void left recently by the discontinuation of the legendary Ref. 5711. We do hear rumours that a Ref. 6711 with the same case shape but executed in titanium will be released soon, but that is another story for another day.
- The story as told by Laurent hints of the historical roots for this inspiration taking us way back to 1979, when the Nautilus itself was still a very new entrant into the genre.
- The aesthetic of the watch is quite a beauty. It is not a mere copy, but an intelligently designed derivative of the lines that Gerald Genta made for the Nautilus. A design which is evolved from the blueprint. The lines are mildly reminiscent of the Genta masterpiece, albeit more rounded, and with a rounded square bezel. On a closer examination, the bezel shares more of its aesthetic cues with the Laurent Ferrier Galet Square and the Galet Square Tourbillon than with the Nautilus.
- This is not the first case from Laurent Ferrier to take this form, as in 2019, Laurent Ferrier released the Grand Sport Tourbillon.
- The Grand Sport Tourbillon, which we raved about in our detailed review is of course equipped with a tourbillon escapement, and had a 44mm case in stainless steel of the same shape. While the new Sport Auto will receive a new automatic movement and cased in a smaller 41.5mm titanium case. The new dial has the same sector dial design with the gradient effect, but in a blue hue instead of taupe.
- Other than the reduced case size, and new micro-rotor automatic movement (sans tourbillon), the new Sport Auto is fitted with a beautifully designed titanium bracelet.
We are looking forward to examining the Sport Auto in detail and to photographing it soon. And as usual, will report back when we have.
New: Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto
Retail price is CHF 46,000 before taxes.
Laurent Ferrier tells this story:
“At the start of 2022, I am proud to present a new watch in our collection: the Sport Auto. A tribute piece to the extraordinary adventure that we experienced as young men.
As many of you are already aware, my friend François Servanin and I founded Maison LAURENT FERRIER in 2009. To better understand the beginning of this odyssey, we have to go back some forty years in time….
Let’s go back to 9 June 1979, on the Sarthe circuit, at Le Mans. François and I were about to start the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Although we had participated in this race together for a number of years, tension was still running high. We started 20th on the starting line. We were among the top of Group 5, thanks to my qualifying time of 3:55.080. It was 2 p.m.: the race was about to start. François took the decisive start, determined to impose our Porsche 935 Turbo in the standings.
After 24 hours of racing, 292 laps, 3,988.254 kilometres covered, a top speed of 312 km/h in the Mulsane straight, a rainy night but a dazzling sunrise, stress at its peak, 24 pit stops for various supplies, repairs and changes of driver, it was 10 June 1979, at 3 p.m. and François Trisconi, our teammate, finally made it across the finish line. We were 3rd overall, just behind a certain Paul Newman. A remarkable achievement for three amateur drivers like us!
The story continues in the paddocks where, in a state of elation, I offered a Nautilus to François, as a token of gratitude after this shared performance. By way of thanks and inspired by this gift, François, a born entrepreneur, then challenged me: ‘What if after this feat, we continued the adventure as a team by making our own watch?!’ Thirty years on, the dream became reality and Maison LAURENT FERRIER was born.
Today, more than forty years have passed since this exceptional podium, but not a single week goes by without us recalling this memory. It is also thanks to this that we designed the Sport Auto. We thought it would have been the ideal timepiece to wear during each of our races.”
A REINTERPRETED CASE
“In watchmaking as well as during our many racing adventures, I have always been very attentive to the slightest sensations. Just like the vibrations of the steering wheel, the roar of the engine, the screeching of the tyres, the heat of the leather of my gloves or even the intensity of the speed keeping me firmly in my seat, our Sport Auto had to arouse true emotions.”
The exterior of the Sport Auto is a refined interplay of firm and rounded curves enlivened by a few counter-curves outlining a bodywork with a perfectly balanced design. The case comes in grade 5 titanium and measures 41.5 mm in diameter. LAURENT FERRIER has chosen to add a contrasting bezel with softer lines, an evolution of our Square case, to the tonneau-shaped middle case with a very pronounced look. As with each of the pieces in the collection, they made sure to create a real harmony between the different components, with the idea of giving the Sport Auto a silhouette that is both sporty and curvaceous. To reinforce the contrast of this confrontation of curves from the Grand Sport Tourbillon, but slightly smaller in size, and give an aerodynamic aspect to the timepiece, the finishes are different on each of its faces. The bezel displays a circular satin-brushed finish that contrasts with its mirror-polished flanks as well as with the vertical satin-brushed middle case.
Icing on the cake, a fully integrated metal bracelet has been added to this case, also in grade 5 titanium, which takes up the vertical satin finish enhanced by polished flanks. The inclined sides of the centre links are also polished. These different finishes give the Sport Auto a very mechanical aspect, another tribute to traditional watchmaking mixed with the two founders’ passion for cars.
The emblematic LAURENT FERRIER ball-shaped crown is, for the first time, screwed down and elegantly integrated into the middle case. The generous features of this crown allow pleasant handling in order to give the initial impetus to the automatic movement. This screw-down crown, combined with water resistance tested to 120 metres, guarantee a maximum comfort for daily wear.
A MULTI-SHADE OPALINE DIAL
The domed sapphire dominates the watch while giving it an irresistible curve to the touch. The latter offers a bird’s-eye view of a dial bringing together all the LAURENT FERRIER aesthetic codes. Its different shades of blue, combined with its opaline finish, gives it a soft and powdery line. White gold drop-shaped hands and indexes illuminated by green Super-LumiNova add tone to the dial. At 6 o’clock, a snailed small seconds dial is enlivened with powdered grey markers.
As in the entire LAURENT FERRIER collection, legibility is a fundamental aspect. Here, it is maximised thanks to the grey minute track. The logo and the central cross also match this colour. A bevelled date window underlined with a fine coordinated transfer is delicately positioned at 3 o’clock. As with the Tourbillon models, the “Sport Auto” movement indication, tone-on-tone transferred between the central hands and the small seconds, completes the composition.
A BRAND-NEW AUTOMATIC CALIBRE
The Maison’s second automatic calendar movement, the LF 270.01 calibre, is the result of an exclusive LAURENT FERRIER development. As a subtle blend of a tribute to the micro-rotor with natural escapement and a more assertive and sporty style, this movement is entirely designed, decorated, assembled and adjusted in the LAURENT FERRIER workshops.
Less sensitive than the natural escapement and more suited to sports watches, this is a Swiss lever escapement using an automatic winding system with an off-centre micro-rotor. For non-negligible benefits in terms of resistance to shocks and vibrations, this movement is fitted with a unidirectional ball bearing replacing the traditional ratchet system. Like a balance wheel, the micro-rotor is equipped with a 950 platinum oscillating weight, placed directly between the plate and the bridge to ensure ideal stability and maximised winding power. Once fully wound, this calibre offers a power reserve of more than 72 hours.
AN IMPORTANT SENSE OF DETAIL
A sapphire crystal case back, fixed with specific screws, similar to those used in motorsport, reveals a movement with impeccable finishes and whose architecture takes up the main codes of the brand’s first automatic movement.
Each LF 270.01 calibre alone requires more than 139 manual finishing operations. For instance, the bridge of the micro-rotor movement is meticulously decorated by hand: the angles are softened then finished with gentian wood or diamantine, while the surface is mirror-polished. In addition, the movement features several internal angles, multiple zinc-polished surfaces and numerous satin-finishing and circular-graining, all executed by hand in the LAURENT FERRIER workshops.
For the first time in the history of LAURENT FERRIER, the micro-rotor is made here in 950 platinum to achieve a more contemporary contrast with the ruthenium-coated bridges. The latter have a horizontal satin finish which offers the movement, a dynamic look that is both very modern but also very intense. Combined with the dark shades of the grade 5 titanium of the bracelet and case; this reinforces the penetrating and sporty character of this new exceptional timepiece.
Laurent Ferrier Auto Sport specifications
Diameter: 14”’ (Ø 32.50mm)
Thickness: 4.85 mm
Frequency: 4Hz (28,800 vph)
Power reserve: 72 hours
215 components/31 jewels
Hours and minutes in the centre
Small seconds at 6 o’clock
Date at 3 o’clock
Horizontal satin finish and ruthenium treatment on the bridges
Case: Grade 5 titanium
Dimensions: 41.5 mm
Thickness: 12.70 mm
Screwed middle case, bezel and case back
Sapphire case back, visible movement
Water resistant to 120 metres
Domed sapphire crystal
Circular satin finish on the bezel, polished flanks and vertical satin finish on the middle case
Specific screws on the case back
Dial: Gradient shades of blue with an opaline finish
Powder grey transfers
Small snailed seconds at 6 o’clock
Indices: 18K/750 white gold 210Pd drop-shaped with green Super-LumiNova
Window at 3 o’clock, white discs and slate grey date
Hands: 18K/750 white gold 210Pd
Hours and minutes: “Assegai” shaped with green Super-LumiNova
Seconds: “Baton” shaped
Bracelet: Integrated bracelet with 3 links in grade 5 titanium
Grade 5 titanium folding clasp