Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur Singapore Edition
Laurent Ferrier, like many other craftsmanship-driven watch brands, is best described as a ‘hidden gem’. While largely unknown to the masses, the brand commands utmost respect from enthusiasts, collectors and industry peers alike. Laurent Ferrier is known for creating contemporary timepieces that are tempered with tradition, and the Galet Regulateur that was first introduced in June this year perfectly captures that concept. Earlier this month, Vanessa Monestel, Laurent Ferrier CEO, and Mr. Christian Ferrier were invited by DKSH and Mr. Ong Ban, CEO of Sincere Fine Watches to travel to Singapore and meet with watch collectors, enthusiasts and journalists. At the event, the new Galet Regulateur Singapore Edition was unveiled, with aesthetics that are sure to impress. Here, we bring you our thoughts on this special Galet Regulateur variant.
The case, dial, and hands
While we normally jump straight into case dimensions, the case of the Galet Regulateur deserves a brief prelude. The Montre École case that is used in the Galet Regulateur was first introduced earlier this year in the Galet Micro-Rotor “Montre École”, a simple three-hand timepiece. The term ‘Montre École’ literally translates to ‘School Watch’ in French. Every great watchmaker today was a green watchmaking student yesterday, learning and training diligently with overflowing aspiration. All this hard work in watchmaking school culminates in the creation of the ‘school watch’, a piece created by the student in order to graduate as a watchmaker. The three-piece case of the Galet Regulateur is modelled on Laurent Ferrier’s ‘school watch’ and is strongly inspired by the pocket watch design. The Montre École case measures a contemporary 40 mm in diameter and 10.95 mm in thickness. It is delightfully sensuous thanks in no small part to its broad, voluptuous bezel. The straight lugs, as well as the onion-style crown, give the timepiece an unmistakable charm. The entire case is polished and thus interacts spectacularly with incident light. The austerity of its design must not be confused with lack of craftsmanship; quite the contrary, the Montre École case is one of the most well-made, most evocative we’ve handled. The case metal chosen for the Singapore edition of the Galet Regulateur is red gold.
The time is displayed regulator-style (hence the name). In a regulator watch, the hour, minute and seconds hands are affixed to separate axes. The original intention for this type of display was to increase legibility and precision; for instance, regulator clocks were once crucial in watchmaking workshops, serving as a reference for time-setting. In the Galet Regulateur, the hours are displayed at 12 o’clock, the seconds at the classic 6 o’clock position, while the minutes are displayed centrally. To have the minute hand displayed most prominently (and not the hour or seconds hands) makes sense if you think about it – in our hectic lives, we often have the hour in the back of our mind and really only look to our watches for the minutes. The regulator display suggest the utilitarian and the functional but the Galet Regulateur has aesthetics thrown into the mix. The dial features an opaline finish, with slate grey sub-dials that are recessed and snailed. The small hour dial bears Roman numerals in a powdered silver-toned grey, while the minutes are shown on a ‘railway track’ scale with painted Arabic numerals at 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes in slate grey. The hands for the three basic indications of time are as follows: a feuille hand for the hours, a spear-like “assegai-shaped” hand for the minutes, and a baton-style hand for the seconds. Unlike the case, the hands are crafted in white gold. To match the warmth and boldness of the case, the ‘Regulateur’ inscription on the dial is now red instead of the blue found in the stock standard Galet Regulateur.
Powering the watch is the 189-part, 35-jewel FBN Calibre 228.01. The movement features automatic winding courtesy of a pawl-fitted micro-rotor, providing 72-hours of autonomy while operating at a stately 3 Hz beat rate. The aforementioned micro-rotor winding system is fixed between the main plate and the micro-rotor bridge. The movement also utilises a silicon escapement with double direct impulse on the balance.
As with all other Laurent Ferrier timepieces, the movement is finished to an extent that only few in the industry can hope to match. The surfaces of the main bridges are decorated with highly-textured Côtes de Genève. Meanwhile, the edges are adorned with large polished bevels containing numerous internal and external angles. The main plate is finished with tight and even perlage while the screw heads and balance cock, as well as the micro-rotor bridge, are black polished to a spectacular sheen. With a sapphire crystal case back, the gorgeous movement will be available for the owner’s viewing pleasure.
The competitive landscape
The Galet Regulateur Singapore Edition is produced in a limited series of 8 pieces and is priced at SGD87,000. To the uninitiated, the price might appear steep for a timepiece that only tells the time. However, it is worth remembering that Laurent Ferrier timepieces are not only ultra-high end, but also exclusive, with only 200 watches produced per annum. The Galet Regulateur Singapore Edition (as well as the regular versions) embodies the highest level of horological craftsmanship that few in the industry can achieve.
Regulator wristwatches are in itself a rarity today, much less a finely crafted one. That said, they do exist outside of Laurent Ferrier and a small handful could give the Galet Regulateur a run for its money. One example of such a timepiece is the Chopard L.U.C Regulator, first unveiled at Baselworld 2015. The L.U.C Regulator features a soothingly balanced dial, with a central minutes hand (like in the Galet Regulateur), semi-circle power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock, hours sub-dial at 3 o’clock, seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, and a GMT sub-dial at 9 o’clock. The aesthetics of the dial is sleek and crisp while its logical layout promotes legibility. The only gripe we have is with the date window – in our opinion, the L.U.C Regulator would be better off without it, or with it re-positioned in the 6 o’clock sub-dial as a radial date display. The Calibre L.U.C 98.02-L that powers the watch is stamped with the Geneva Seal, indicating that it is reliable, precise, well-constructed and superbly finished. Indeed Chopard has upped its game in horology since the introduction of its L.U.C collection. The L.U.C movements that have come out of the Chopard manufacture match the movements from more established haute horlogerie maisons from Geneva in terms of quality and finissage. At ‘just’ over SGD40,000 for the rose gold variant, or half the price of the Galet Regulateur Singapore Edition, the L.U.C Regulator offers immense bang for buck. Sure, the level of craftsmanship isn’t to the level of the Laurent Ferrier but it is not too far off. For half the price and with more functions, it is hard to argue against the Chopard L.U.C Regulator.
Arguably the most well-known and revered regulator watches to grace high horology in recent years are the Richard Langes from German powerhouse A. Lange & Söhne. The latest addition in the Richard Lange family of watches is the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds in pink gold, unveiled only a few weeks ago. The Jumping Seconds has thoroughly won the hearts of collectors and the media alike since its introduction at SIHH 2016. Apart from the triangular power reserve indicator, the Jumping Seconds has no other complications. The interesting overlapping design of the sub-dials is inspired by the No. 93 pocket watch by Dresden watchmaker Johann Heinrich Seyffert. The highlight of the watch is its heat-blued ‘jumping’ seconds hand which ticks thanks to the 1-second remontoir inside the movement. The remontoir ensures the delivery of a constant force (every second, in this case) to the escapement from the mainspring. It also provides the energy needed to move the seconds hand by a single increment every second through the entirety its 42 hour power reserve. The only thing more impressive than the sophisticated constant force mechanism is the finishing and aesthetics of the Calibre L094.1. Just as water is wet, the Lange Calibre L094.1 is gorgeous. It features the usual culprits: gold screw-set chatons, black polished screw heads and swan neck regulator, creamy Glashütte ribbing, and a hand-engraved balance cock. There are few manufacturers today, independent or otherwise, that can keep up with Laurent Ferrier in a movement finissage dance-off – A. Lange & Söhne is one of those manufacturers. Priced at a hefty SGD 112,300, the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds in pink gold is the most of expensive (and technically impressive) of the lot.
Also deserving mention is the Régulateur, from a brand that is well-known for its regulator watches. The Chronoswiss Régulateur is time-only with central minutes, a sub-dial for the hours at 12 o’clock, and a sub-dial for the seconds at 6 o’clock. Its dial layout is similar to that of the Galet Regulateur, though that’s as far as similarities go between the two regulator wristwatches. The Chronoswiss Régulateur features the brand’s signature coin edge bezel and large onion crown. The in-house produced dial is spectacularly guilloched and remains the main attraction of the timepiece; in fact, the dial is so well-done that it rivals dials on much more expensive watches. The watch is powered by the in-house manufactured Calibre 122, a simple, robust automatic movement. It is equipped with a large gold rotor and a three-legged Glucydur balance with a standard Nivarox balance. The finishing of the movement is basic but meets the engineering requirements for a clean, polished movement – very fitting for its price point. And what might the price be, you ask? The rose gold version of the timepiece retails at about SGD22,500 while the stainless steel version comes in at a relatively modest SGD8,800. The Chronoswiss Régulateur therefore provides an excellent albeit non-haute horlogerie alternative to the above contenders at significantly more affordable prices. ‘Value for money’ has always been core at Chronoswiss and the Régulateur continues to perpetuate that philosophy.
The Galet Regulateur Singapore Edition is prototypically Laurent Ferrier; it is contemporary yet grounded in tradition. There isn’t exactly a focal point on the timepiece, but that’s because everything is the focal point – everything is crafted to exceptionally high standards and equally worthy of admiration. Compared to the standard Galet Regulateur, the Singapore Edition is less stealthy and more ‘passionate’ with its red gold case and red ‘Regulateur’ inscription on the dial – it is fire to the standard edition’s ice. The pricing may attract its fair share of criticism, but dare we say, the watch is otherwise flawless.