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New with hands-on review: Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport

by Peter Chong on May 6, 2019
Overview
Brand

Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon

Complication / Type of Watch

Tourbillon
Water Resistant (100m) luxury sports watch

Recommended Retail Price

S$ 280,000 including GST.

Laurent Ferrier joins the ranks of the luxury sports watch world with an entrant worthy of the reputation – the Tourbillon Grand Sport, with the coveted LF Tourbillon in a new sporty case.

Laurent Ferrier is perhaps well known as an independent watchmaker. But in the 1970s, his name was more likely to be seen on the roster of some prestigious motor races. He competed in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times, coming first in the two liter prototype category in 1977.

Laurent Ferrier. Photographed in 2012, outside his workshop in Geneva.

It was during these racing years that he met with François Servanin. The two men shared a passion for speed and mechanics, and raced together. At the 1979 Le Mans 24 hours race they raced behind the wheel of a Porsche 935T, and came in third overall, just behind Paul Newman’s team who took second position.

In 2009, they formed Laurent Ferrier as a watch brand, and today they remember their racing legacy and their friendship with this new Tourbillon Grand Sport, capturing the spirit of racing in the 1970s.

Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport

Why a sports watch for a brand so classical in its aesthetics? For starters, early in his watchmaking career in Patek Philippe, he worked on the prototype of the original Nautilus, creating it from design drawings directly from the ateliers of Gerald Genta. And it is with little wonder that we see some elements of the Gental spirit in the new Tourbillon Grand Sport. But we get ahead of ourselves.

If there appears to be a resemblance to the Patek Philippe Nautilus, it is perhaps not a total co-incidence. Laurent himself worked on the Patek prototype in the early 1970s.

The case, dial and hands

Thus the story of elegance and evergreen design of the Nautilus lives in the Grand Sport. The lines are mildly reminiscent of the Genta masterpiece, albeit more rounded, and with a rounded square bezel. Though on a closer examination, the bezel shares aesthetic cues with the Laurent Ferrier Galet Square and the Galet Square Tourbillon.

The lugs are particularly elegant and sensuously shaped.

The dial itself is in a rather amazing smoked taupe-coloured dial, with an effect of a changing shade from center to the edges, much similar to the much loved fumé dials of Moser. Combined with the bright orange hue of the luminous material on the hands and indices, the overall look at the dial side is very elegant, if also very sporty. The sapphire glass protecting the dial is also lightly tinted to soften the look.

We particularly love it that the tourbillon is not visible from the dial side, and no punctures are made to it to showcase the spinning tourbillon. This was the original Laurent Ferrier Galet Tourbillon. One which he adopted from his years in Patek Philippe like this Ref.5101, who also do not show their tourbillons from the dial side. Yea, we are aware of one such Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon F which opens the dial to show the back of a tourbillon, but we are quite ready to forgive Laurent for that “transgression”.

From the case side, the lugs form a scroll centered on the nicely shaped crown.

The case design is very well considered. Laurent considers the sensation of winding the crown in the morning, and indeed this translates to a very smooth feel. The notches of each click is still subtly felt as one winds the watch, but the lovely sensation of stirring a viscous fluid remains.

The movement: Caliber LF 619.01

The movement remains the very beautiful Caliber LF 610.01. This is a very beautifully designed movement. The movement is now finished with a dark rhuthenium coating and brushed instead of the Geneva Stripes used in the earlier renditions.

The ruthenium treated bridges are hand brushed to provide a dark but handsome finish to the movement.

The layout is very pleasant and allows the entire movement train to be observed. From the barrel to the second wheel to the third wheel driving the tourbillon cage is visible through cutouts in the bridges. The stationary fourth wheel is also visible, and the magnificent spinning tourbillon is proudly displayed.

Every haute horlogerie detail is amazingly well executed in this movement. From the simple straight grains on the bridges to the magnificently executed anglage, with sharp outward angles.

The movement is the same caliber as used in the original Laurent Ferrier Galet Tourbillon, and looks equally magnificent in the Tourbillon Grand Sport.

Of particular note is the design and execution of the tourbillon bridge. The bridge is black polished, and features 4 sharp inward angles on the opening pierced on one arm and with a beautifully polished cylinder on the other arm.

The tourbillon and the bridge remains a high point in the design and execution of this movement. Magnificently shaped and immaculately finished.

The competitive landscape

I guess the ideal competitor to the Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport would be an equivalent tourbillon in the Patek Philippe Nautilus. This would be an interesting comparison to see if the disciple who was responsible for constructing the prototype can surpass the master himself. But alas such a moniker does not at exist.

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5711/1A would make an interesting competitor, if it was equipped with a tourbillon. But it does not.

We might consider the Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon Grand Feu. We were struck with the beauty of the UN Marine Tourbillon when we reviewed it, and were even more amazed at the price point. The grand feu enamel dial is a thing of great beauty.

The UN Marine Tourbillon Grand Feu is a strong competitor.

Or the equally elegant and beautiful lines shaped by the Girard Perregaux Laureato Tourbillon. This is another masterpiece in design, combining elegance with a sporty demeanour.

The GP Laureato Tourbillon in two tone: titanium case with pink gold accents on the bezel and bracelet links.

Of course, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon is a worthy adversary. AP was perhaps the first to use a tourbillon escapement in a sports watch.

Concluding thoughts

Overall, we are very impressed with this new watch from Laurent Ferrier. The new Tourbillon Grand Sport is a fitting tribute to the anniversary of the founders’ motor racing careers, it is also the 10th anniversary of the conception of the brand’s first tourbillon.

The 44mm stainless steel case feels very nice on the wrist.

The design communicates a palpable sense of sportiness. Racy, and raring to go, but yet exudes the confidence and elegence of a thoroughbred race horse.

The execution is faultless. The overall feel of the watch, especially on the wrist is one which is organic and smooth.

Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport Ref. LCF041 Specifications

Limited Edition 12 pieces.

TECHNICAL DETAILS MOVEMENT :  Manual winding  Diameter: 14’’’ (Ø 31.60 mm)  Thickness: 5.57 mm  Frequency: 3Hz (21600 vibrations/hour)  Power reserve: 80 hours  188 mechanical parts / 23 jewels  Hours and minutes in the centre  Small seconds at 6 o’clock on tourbillon frame pivot  Tourbillon rotating cage visible through sapphire case back  Horizontal satin brushed bridges with a ruthenium treatment

TOURBILLON FEATURES  Tourbillon, opposite double balance spring  “Swiss” lever escapement  Balance at variable geometry, with screw  Tourbillon frame carrier in periphery

TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Case:  Stainless steel  Dimensions: 44 mm  3 parts, middle, bezel and bottom hooked  Sapphire bottom, tourbillon movement vision  Water resistant at 100 meters  Tinted sapphire glass  Satin finishing on the sides and polished bezel  Sporty bolts on the case back

Dial:  Brown gradient with nickel opalin in the center  Small second at 6 o’clock  Indexes: 18K/750 210Pd white gold with orange superluminova

Hands:  18K/750 210Pd white gold  Hours and minutes: ‘’Assegai-shaped’’ with orange superluminova  Seconds : baton-type

Strap:  Taupe, folding clasp  Rubber strap

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