The new Laurent Ferrier Square Micro-Rotor Retro: Two new references of Monochrome perfection in a classic Ferrier silhouette
I do envy Laurent Ferrier’s background. The man lived a rather full life before starting his own brand. As a Patek Philippe designer and watchmaker of over 30 years, he had time for Racing, coming third at the 24 hours of LeMans in 1979 ahead of Paul Newman. And this was well before he made his mark on the Independent scene. My life seems fairly devoid of panache compared to Laurent’s achievements. Somehow this is an intrinsic part of his particular design language. Perhaps the trademark designs of ultra-smooth pebble cases are subconsciously inspired by the aerodynamics of his racing past? Regardless of where the inspiration came from, the new Laurent Ferrier Square Micro-Rotor Retro adds a duo of watches to my Grail List.
Is the Laurent Ferrier Square Micro-Rotor an End Game two-watch collection?
If I am completely honest, I am a three-hand man with a majority of time-only watches. While I love uni-compax chronographs and wear a mad burgundy steel G-Shock while writing this, they are the obvious exceptions. I seem to be forever searching for that intangible blend of everyday cool and boardroom chic. In this vein, the new Laurent Ferrier Square Micro-Rotor pair are two squared-off pebbles of desire. I might even be bold enough to claim this 41mm duo to be a proper End Game pair. Both are instantly recognizable for followers of the brand. Their polished perfection is worth the investment for the smooth zen sensation alone.
A pebble of desire
At Fratello Watches we have had our enthusiastic mittens on watches from Laurent Ferrier before. Their smooth surfaces elicit a sensual feeling, such is the textural delight. I’m a strong advocate for contrasts in a watch case, like the play of light between brush and Zaratsu, but will happily make an exception. A Laurent Ferrier has the same feeling as my 102-year-old Zenith pocket watch. Its immaculately smooth case polished over a century to achieve its stress-relieving smoothness. The 41mm case is a smooth medium size, and the slim 11mm build is proportionate to a tee. A smooth bezel enhances the cohesive feeling, and it sits smoothly on the wrist with the sweep of curved lugs. I will add that the brilliantly complementary chubby crown might be one of my favorite ways of imparting big-crown ergonomics with a thoroughly elegant shape.
A new dark dial with an Arabic twist
In these two references what hits you first, is the discreet similarities yet but somehow very different personalities. The warm 18K 5N red gold sits in rich contrast to the dark grey dial. I was genuinely surprised by the choice of white lacquer details. Laurant Ferrier’s signature of a spear hour hand juxtaposed with a shapely stretched Feuille minute hand is in white an unusually crisp touch. On the dark dial, this brings a popping monochrome clarity to the new design with delightfully swoopy Arabic numerals indicating 9, 12, and 3 o’clock. These are placed within a sector hour circle framed within the railway minute track. This new dial design juxtaposes a particularly whimsical font with Ferrier’s formality, creating a fascinating dialogue of contrasts. Even at CHF 55,000 this surely represents value for what is a piece of independent perfection.
The fresh minimalism of silvery-white
The steel reference has a dynamic silvery-white dial surface elegantly softened by grey pad-printed dial graphics, all softly understated. And who could say no to the Ferrier hands in their smooth, hand-polished state of balanced perfection? The dynamic Assegai spear keeps its distance from the hour track, while its sharp partner kisses the minute track. These hands are as beautiful as underlining how elegant the mundane function of time-telling can be. Something the smooth and quietly elegant Square Micro-Rotor Retro does with aplomb, with such a quiet voice that you would not even get stressed finding out that your train was leaving in 2 minutes. Is this actually a large reason for mechanical wristwear in this day and age, as pure soothing stress relief for the wrist? Check the hourly rates for your shrink and you might find that’s a yes, even at CHF 45,000.
Don’t you dare turn it around
The FBN 229.1 caliber is still quietly magnificent with its less-revealing, formal elegance. An example of movement architecture from an independent watchmaker, the delights of the FBN 229.1 are fairly obvious even for the non-technically inclined members of the #watchfam. My favorite detail might be the beautifully striated, visually pleated surface of the micro-rotor, twirling within its exposed, anglage-framed opening. Two nickel-phosphorous escape wheels act directly on the balance wheel. Both wheels and a silicon blocker are made using LIGA and DRIE tech, endowing the caliber with superb anti-magnetic properties. The shapely, cotes de Geneve decorated mainplate reveals just enough to titillate the senses, in what is a Breguet/inspired direct impulse escapement on a movement with a superb 72-hour power reserve.
High tech discreetly revealed
Yes, I will admit to being able to write several enthusiastic stories on Ferrier, and they might not all be objective. But, like the majority of you, I admit to having more aesthetic knowledge than watchmaker expertise. I have an infinite amount of respect for the countless hours that go into a seemingly small detail like the anglage. As a horological art form, the bends and twists of the polished chamfers are in themselves a micro-managed showroom and a testament to the Laurent Ferrier Atelier. Just don’t ask me because yes, I might happily be content with the new Laurent Ferrier Square Micro-Rotor duo as a two-watch collection (where do I sign?). Crisp silvery white steel for weekdays, and the glow of dark-dialed red gold for best.
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