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October 9, 2014

Laurent Ferrier Introduces The Galet Traveller USA Enamel Dial

By Neharika Padala

For this special limited edition, LAURENT FERRIER decided to pay a tribute to the USA as it offers a special enamel dial featuring the United States of America.

The outline of the USA territory is formed using the technique of cloisonné champlevé that refers to an area hollowed out in a sheet of white gold, to take enamel. The dial is divided into compartments where the different colours of enamel are put.

An additional effect is provided by a specific hand-finished treatment. Between the continent and the sea, the material is shaped in a gentle slope so that the layer of enamel is lighter near the shore providing a varying shade of blue.

The ancestral art of enamelling 

Ever since Antiquity, enamel has been used to adorn jewellery creations. Adopted by horologists in the 15th century, enamelling earned its noble pedigree in Geneva. Grand Feu enamelling is a difficult art to master, since the original colours are modified by successive firings in the kiln. Moreover, the dial itself is rendered more vulnerable by the extremely high temperatures to which it is subjected. In a first phase, the selected colours are applied with a brush in a specific order. The dial is then fired at over 840°C, after which it must be cooled down and cleared of any potential imperfections on its surface. The other colours are applied layer by layer and the dial is repeatedly fired accordingly.

Enamellists must be experts in order to predict the evolution of the colours in the various phases. They must also be extremely dextrous if they are to avoid damaging the dial during the firings.

A useful complication 

The Galet Traveller helps its user get his bearings within this world time. A dual-time display is an extremely useful complication when travelling. This watch was developed with the aim of ensuring extremely smooth handling, while also ensuring visual balance, readability and performance in all circumstances – all values dear to Laurent Ferrier.

Positioned perfectly geometrically and delicately integrated on the left side of the case, two oblong push-buttons are pressed to modify local time indicated by a central hand. These two buttons at 8 and 10 o’clock are subtly integrated into the case middle so as to follow the harmonious curve of this solid gold “pebble”. Only a tiny notch designed for a fingernail forms a tiny protruding edge in order to facilitate handling. When moving from one time zone to another, the central hour hand indicating local time may be moved forwards or backwards, in one-hour increments, by successive presses. Pressing the upper push-button advances the hand by one hour, while pressing the lower push-button moves it backwards, all without affect the minutes hand. On a flight from Geneva to New York, the traveller will thus simply need to press the lower push-button six times to ensure the watch is set to exact local time upon landing.

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In addition to this fast local-time adjustment, the date, appearing in a window at 3 o’clock, is automatically modified when the hand passes midnight, thus spontaneously adapting to transitions between the various time zones. The window at 9 o’clock maintains the reference or home time. Thanks to its 24-hour display, it is easy to check whether it is day or night in one’s place of residence even from the other side of the world.

Perfect readability 

The Galet Traveller developed by Laurent Ferrier ensures smooth continuity in the watchmaking journey of the House. This same spirit of functionality, as well as readability and aesthetic appeal already present in the other models from the brand. The solid white gold pebble-shaped case – that has become a brand signature – recalls the pocket watches of yesteryear. The winding crown is as round and generously sized as ever, and the gold hands retain their characteristic shape assagai.

The dedicated dial alternates between two aesthetic finishes: grand feu cloisonné by champlevé enamel in the centre and circular satin-brushed around the outside. The extremely slender hour-markers and the two bevelled apertures ensure optimal readability – one at 3 o’clock for the date and the other at 9 o’clock for home time, the Arabic numerals are painted in black. Laurent Ferrier thereby once again proves its ability to find the perfect balance between a strongly identifiable neoclassical design on the one hand, and tried and tested efficiency on the other.

A finely tuned movement The Galet Traveller houses self-winding Calibre LF 230.01, from the famous line of Micro-Rotor movements with natural escapement. It incorporates the dual time-zone adjustment mechanism as well as the date. This useful complication, that took a full two years to develop, is fully integrated and each part is an integral part of the global architecture of the base calibre.

As with the previous developments, LF Calibre 230.01 features a pawl-fitted micro rotor unidirectional winding system, backed by a double direct-impulse natural escapement. The latter, devised by Abraham-Louis Breguet in the late 18th century, is now made using modern technologies that contribute to the exceptional precision of Laurent Ferrier watches. The major distinctive feature of this natural escapement lies in the fact that two impulses are directly imparted to the balance with each oscillation. Its excellent efficiency guarantees a high amplitude for the balance operating at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour.

Laurent Ferrier uses a silicon pallet-lever for its lightness and its self-lubricating properties, as well as escape-wheels in a phosphorous nickel alloy known for its extreme hardness, all made using LIGA technology. The main advances of these cutting-edge materials lies in the resulting perfect surface states, as well as strong resistance to both wear and corrosion. The micro-rotor is in engine-turned 18K gold. It is fitted with a “silent bloc” shock-absorbing system similar to chassis mounting rubbers. The winding device is offset and fitted on the mainplate between two bridges, and fixed between two jewels. This reduces the thickness of the movement and provides a clear view of the construction, while ensuring maximum stability compared with a conventional oscillating weight.

This innovative horological architecture, complemented by the natural escapement, serves to achieve a one-third increase in the winding force of the micro-rotor and thus to achieve an 80-hour power reserve. Its efficiency is thus far superior to the majority of classic escapements and is above all extremely stable over the long term – an asset that significantly contributes to the exceptionally accurate rate of this chronometer certified.

Sophisticated finishing

The decoration and finishing of the movement are in keeping with the finest watchmaking traditions. The sapphire crystal case-back of the Galet Traveller provides a fine view of the finesse of this workmanship. In addition to the Côtes de Genève motif adorning the bridges and the circular-graining of the mainplate, the sides are manually chamfered and the screw heads are polished. The authenticity of the hand chamfering is perceptible in the clean cut of the interior angles that no machine can achieve and which demonstrate the authenticity of the watchmaking art as exercised by Laurent Ferrier.

(Source: Laurent Ferrier)

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