We covered the story of two friends Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat first met in watchmaking school in Geneva and whose watchmaking journey took them to Glashütte and back. Now operating from the small town in Renens, which we visited. And we covered their then unnamed prototype in some detail. Now the watch is a reality, with a name – the 1967 Chapter 1, the same case and movement as the prototype, and a new dial by Comblémine. Here is our full review of the new release.
Our visit to their atelier in Renes, Switzerland.Recommended reading for the background on these two amazing young watchmakers.
Petermann Bedat 1967 Chapter 1
First the new name. When we covered the prototype, both Gaël and Florian were not decided on what to name their new watch. The name they finally chose was a curious one – 1967 Chapter 1.
The year 1967 was chosen because this was the year where the watchmaking world saw the first quartz watch beat to life, with the seconds hand moving in staccato steps, making one jump every second. And as their movement’s most prominent complication is the second morte, this was a nod to that reference. And Chapter 1 is perhaps self explanatory as their first effort.
Quite a curious name, but somewhat with a dry sense of humour and tongue firmly in cheek. However, the work showcased in the watch is very serious indeed.
The case, dial and hands
The design of the dial and hands is by Barth Nussbaumer of Barth Studio, and will form the new design language for the brand. The case and movement remained from the prototype.
We are not sure if the design has been revisited, Gaël tells us no, but the new renders of the case look a much tighter design than the prototype we saw and photographed earlier. The case is available in either rose gold or white gold and measures a svelte 39mm in diameter (10.7mm high) and is inspired by the 60s era. The curves on the case sides which blend smoothly into the lugs are very sensuous. The bezel is rather thin, but raised in two rounded steps, giving dimension and depth.
What has changed is the watch now has a new dial, made by the studios of Kari Voutilainen’s Comblémine. The dial design is certainly a huge step up from the rather bland prototype. The dial now speaks. And her voice is loud and beautiful. The design calls for a semi-open dial which showcases the craftsmanship of the duo. The dial somewhat reminds us of the Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1, though obviously not a direct comparison in any sense, but high praise indeed for Petermann Bedat.
The dial is sapphire disc with a chapter ring and a central medallion glued over. Both the ring and medallion are in stainless steel, and have a matte frosted finish, with a high polish anglage applied on the edge. The ring is on the outer perimeter and displays the seconds track (a language used instead of minute track usually applied in deference to the seconde morte mechanism). And the central medallion carries the branding. This leaves a donut shaped sapphire glass ring in between to carry the hour markers – the hours 12, 3, 6 and 9 in arabic and the others markers are sticks. The markers are made by thick transfer print in black. We understand the entire dial is manufactured in Comblémine and delivered complete for the duo to assemble in Renens. Visible through the sapphire glass is the dial side of the movement, finished in straight graining. The prototype we photographed in November had perlage.
The center medallion is cut-out to frame the three huge rubies. One of the rubies, holding the pivot of the escape wheel is a cap jewel which is housed in its own black polished stainless steel plate secured by polished screws, and the other two are visible through the cut-outs.
The magnificently finished keyless works is shown through the sapphire glass at about 3 o’clock, and shows the castle wheel, springs and the levers used to implement the keyless setting.
The finishing of the levers and springs of the keyless works is exceptional, with black polished surfaces and superbly crafted anglage.
The hands are also unique, and the design concept is to bring together the elements from different eras. Using the traditional Dauphine hand as a base design, the hands morph into a modern interpretation, creating a unique opportunity to showcase the crafts of bevelling, black polish and berçage – a method of making a engraving pattern by the use of rolling the curved edge of a blade over the surface. The hands are CNC cut by a supplier, and the finishing is done by Gaël and Florian.
The movement: Caliber 171
The movement remains the same as was shown in the prototype. The design is based on the Gafner system as an inspiration. Robert Gafner was a watchmaking instructor in La Chaux-de Fonds in the 1940s and had created a pocket watch with tourbillon and seconde morte.
The movement plate show a three quarter plate design and made with untreated maillechort, both nods to Gaël and Florian’s days in A. Lange & Söhne. The base movement elements also echo this background, with the escape wheel having its own black polished stainless steel cap, and beautifully but subtly ruled fausse côtes, made in deliberate, equal steps, showing the raised edges against the lowered ones, and the striations of the tool used to make the tiny slopes.
The balance is regulated by a swan neck fine regulation system over a screwed balance with screws as inertia devices and a Breguet overcoil hairspring. The seconds morte bridge sits over the top plate, and is made of stainless steel. This bridge is finished in a matte finish achieved with poudre du Levant, done by hand polishing in a paste mixed with olive oil, and polished with a high shine anglage on the edges. We find this bridge to be particularly appealing both visually as well as technically.
This exposed bridge of the seconds morte mechanism carries the design’s double anchor system. This jumping seconds system is a very complex to manufacture and requires extreme skill and precision to adjust by hand to the hundredth of a milimeter.
As discussed in the earlier article, the system is designed with the help of legendary watchmaker Dominique Renaud, who happened to have a studio next to the duo. He approached both Gaël and Florian to do some prototyping work for his DR 01 Twelve First, a watch which the prototype was realized,. But to date, the watch has not materialized commercially, though we did see a working prototype in 2018. As the story goes, Gaël and Florian realized the opportunity and seized it, and instead of receiving payment for the prototype, they asked to be mentored. And thus they received guidance from Dominique on the design.
Movement finishing is absolute top grade. We loved every detail that we can see on the prototype watch. Every part is carefully shaped, polished, and anglage is applied. The main plates are fully perlaged, and the dial side of the main plate is applied with straight graining as it shows up under the sapphire section of the dial.
Circular graining is applied on wheels and all the arms are hand beveled. Sun graining is applied on the barrel with perlage inside. Snail graining is used on the rachet wheel. These finishing are not visible, even when the movement is taken out of the case, and only visible on disassembly of the movement. Steel parts are beveled, and the black polished by hand to the perfect mirror finish.
As an example, take the finishing on the balance cock. The swan neck fine regulation system is masterfully crafted not only for the graceful looks, but also in near perfection in execution. The steel parts are black polished, with proper anglage. The opening used to house the screw holding the cock in place is not a simple chamfer, but bowl shaped, and mirror finished to reflect all angles of the high polished screw. Other aspects of the swan neck is also equally treated with attention to detail. The advancing screw for the swan neck mechanism is beautifully polished, as is the black polished cap of the balance jewel which also feature the polished bowl descending to the jewel. If one looks deep into this cap jewel, one can see the KIF shock absorption device over the end stone of the balance pivot. This additional cap jewel is decorative, and used to hide the KIF, which Gaël and Florian think is unsightly. So, unusually for a such a balance with this aesthetic, the balance wheel is shock resistant. The attachment which holds the stud is also magnificently finished, with the two screws being held in their polished chamfered openings.
The balance wheel is adjusted by hand and the Breguet overcoil is also bent into place by hand, as shown in the photograph below.
Truly magnificent. All the haute horlogerie finnissage elements are handled absolutely superbly, and with a confidence that belies the youth of both Gaël and Florian. Exceptional.
The landscape of a seconds morte watch is certainly not as heavily populated as many others. But is is still a rather large field as this is perhaps a popular complication with many different solutions to address the issue.
One which draws obvious comparison is the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds € 47,000 in white gold as well as the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” €47,000 in yellow gold, white gold and pink gold. We guess, as Gaël and Florian are Lange alumni, the comparison is demanded of us. The Lange offerings are some CHF 10k less expensive than the Petermann Bedat, but we think the comparison might actually be loaded in favour of the 1967 Chapter 1. This is because in our judgement, the finishing and attention to detail on the Petermann Bedat is even better than the superb standards offered by Lange. The Petermann Bedat is acheived with a greater amount of hand effort and selection of techniques which require higher skill and time to execute, something a small atelier can achieve, but to put into series production in a large house like Lange may present other difficulties. As it is, Lange’s finishing is already at the very top drawer for series production watches. We also find the 1967 Chapter 1’s dial to be more visually appealing and attractive than the instrument like Richard Lange, though the 1815 dial is also quite beautiful. It also benefits from the very small production of only 20 movements, 10 each to be cased in rose gold and white gold. The Richard Lange, however benefits from having a full regulator dial, while the 1815 Homage is very similar to the 1967 Chapter 1. Both Langes also benefit from a more established sales and service network, and of course branding.
Arnold & Son Instrument DSTB is also a possible candidate. It retails for S$ 43,600, considerably less. But is decidedly less lavishly decorated and finished. The Arnold does have a dial side display of the jumping seconds mechanism which is quite fascinating, but the dial side aesthetics is nowhere near the beauty exuded by the 1967 Chapter 1.
Some might bring the Habring2 Jumping Seconds (CHF 4,000) as a comparison, but we think the two watches live in different universes. Richard Habring is a genius in making excellent working watches with simplified movements at great prices, but does not have even the smallest aspiration to the finishing levels that Petermann Bedat does. Even though Richard himself is also a Lange alumni. The base movement on the Habring2 is the ETA/Valjoux 7750, while the Caliber 170 is purpose built from ground up.
Other comparisons we might draw are the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Deadbeat (automatic, US$ 35,000 in red gold), the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second (S$25,900 in rose gold and S$13,300 in SS), and the Grönefeld One Hertz (now discontinued). All less expensive. All with superb propositions on their own right. But none with the level of finishing offered by Petermann Bedat.
In conclusion, we find the Petermann Bedat 1967 Chapter 1 to be a compelling proposition for a seconde morte watch which is made by a small independent maker in very small quantities, with an amazingly superb finishing, a magnificent eye to detail and really pleasing aesthetics.
The pricing is a higher than what we find from other players, so if you are looking for a bargain, look elsewhere. But in our view, given our biases and criteria, this is possibly the best jumping seconds watch we have seen. And as the first effort from this team, this is certainly a mighty achievement and they are truly going to be a big name in the near future.
Petermann Bédat 1967 Chapter 1
Case: 39mm diameter x 10.70mm height – 18k pink or white gold case, polished – sapphire crystals front and caseback – water-resistant to 30m
Movement: Calibre 171, in-house and handcrafted – hand-wound – 30mm diameter – 18,000 vibrations/hour – 36h power reserve – 29 jewels – hours, minutes, deadbeat seconds
Strap: Alcantara leather strap with gold pin buckle
Availability: limited edition of 10 pieces in pink gold and 10 pieces in white gold