When it comes to independent watchmakers, age is an important factor. Without the infrastructure of a holding group, it can take years or even decades for independents to find their footing: sourcing parts, developing a design language, gaining recognition. Laurent Ferrier – founded in just 2010 – is an exception. Looking past the age of the brand, you’ll find perhaps the best-equipped person on the planet to start a watch company: Laurent Ferrier. His experience, which we’ll dive into, is fascinating. This experience, along with a gifted eye for design and an unrelenting will to create, enables Laurent Ferrier to create some of the most refined, well-made, originally designed watches on the market. Before taking a look at the brand’s Sport Auto and Grand Sport models, we need to discuss the history of Laurent Ferrier.
Laurent Ferrier’s History
Image Source: esquire.com
Laurent Ferrier is a third-generation watchmaker from Geneva, Switzerland. He was born into the world of horology. In fact, Ferrier’s childhood apartment was right above his father’s watchmaking shop. Naturally, he decided to go to watchmaking school, École d’Horlogerie de Genève to be exact. After graduating in 1968, Ferrier began his 37 year career at a brand that needs no introduction: Patek Philippe. However, those 37 years weren’t without interruption. From 1968-1985, Ferrier oscillated between watchmaking and motorsport, frequently competing in the 24 Hours at Le Mans. During this time, he met a man named Francois Servanin: the founder and CEO of the modern Laurent Ferrier brand. Ferrier (above, right) and Servanin (above, left) became very close friends throughout the 1970s. They shared a common dream of starting their own watch brand, but didn’t yet consider it a possibility. In 2010, the dream came true.
Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto
Image Source: monochrome-watches.com
When we met with Laurent Ferrier at Watches and Wonders 2023, two models stood out to me: the Sport Auto and Grand Sport. In an interview with Revolution, Laurent Ferrier explained the inspiration behind these models. He wanted to create an integrated bracelet watch unlike any existing offerings. The Sport Auto sets itself apart with its 41.5mm cushion-shaped case and domed sapphire crystal. This silhouette is drastically different from the decidedly flat integrated bracelet watches from most other brands. Unmistakably, the Sport Auto’s cushion-shaped case and integrated bracelet pay homage to the 1970s.
Constructed of brushed titanium and achieving 120 meters of water resistance (thanks to a screw-down crown and caseback), this is a sports watch. It is called the Sport, after all. However, the onion-shaped crown, elegant dial, and beautifully-finished movement remind the wearer that this is not just a sports watch. From the front, you’ll see a powdery gradient blue dial quartered by a fine white crosshair. This crosshair is interrupted by a traditional 6 o’clock small seconds and 3 o’clock date window. The remaining hours are marked by Laurent Ferrier’s signature drop-shaped indices. Their shape is very similar to the Assegai-shaped handset. Through a sapphire exhibition caseback (above, right), you’ll see Laurent Ferrier’s caliber LF270.01: a hand-finished microrotor movement with 72 hours of power reserve. The bridges are horizontally brushed while the bevels are polished. It’s detailed without being busy. Simply put, the movement is stunning. Its elegance is starkly contrasted by the four utilitarian screws on the caseback.
Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport
The Grand Sport is a haute horological take on the Sport Auto. It has the same brushed titanium cushion-shaped case, integrated bracelet, and general dial layout: this time without a date window. It has the same powdery gradient as the Sport Auto but in a salmon-pink hue. Inside the larger 44mm case sits Laurent Ferrier’s caliber LF619.01: a hand-finished tourbillon movement. Unlike most tourbillon watches, the Grand Sport’s tourbillon is not visible from the dial-side of the watch. I love this so much. There’s something about a titanium sports watch with a hidden tourbillon that just makes me smile. It’s relatively unassuming until you take it off and look at the back. Unlike the Sport Auto, the Grand Sport does not have a screw-down crown, giving it just 50 meters of water resistance. This is fine. If you’re worried about the water resistance on your tourbillon wristwatch, I advise you to take a deep breath and reflect.
Laurent Ferrier’s Sport collection – released just last year – achieves three things that are seldom achieved together: an original design, a simple design, and wildly impressive mechanics. The Sport Auto leans further into the collection’s namesake while the Grand Sport celebrates the joy of horology. A hidden tourbillon in a titanium watch with an integrated bracelet; it doesn’t get much more fun than this. Laurent Ferrier produced around 500 watches in 2022. Their attention to detail is remarkable. While the price point is definitely high (~$50,000 for the Sport Auto, ~$192,000 for the Grand Sport), they’ve made every effort possible to justify it. I'd say they've succeeded. The proportions, build quality, mechanics – everything is as it should be. The name on the dial and the story he's created: that's the cherry on top.