December 10, 2013
by Ariel Adams
Chopard has just announced that it will debut a new luxury watch brand under its corporate guidance and ownership in 2014 celebrating the work of historic Swiss watchmaker Ferdinand Berthoud. Technically a new and distinct company, the new brand will be located in Fleurier near Chopard in the Val-de-Travers canton of Switzerland. The new brand will officially be called La Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, and is reportedly located just a few miles from where Berthoud himself was born in 1727.
Ferdinand Berthoud was a contemporary of Abraham-Louis Breguet. Both were Swiss and both moved to Paris to produce clocks and watches for civil, military, and scientific use. Many of Berthoud’s creations are still in existence today, and some have been sold at auction for a tidy sum. Though if a new brand incarnation of his persona were to become successful, then it reasons that his work will be valued even more. Chopard reportedly purchased the rights to the name in 2006 and has been working on the launch of the brand since then. It will finally debut with its initial timepiece creations in 2014.
An important question to consider is “what will the Ferdinand Berthoud watches be like?” The best guess is to look at the body of his classic work and understand what he was known for. Breguet for example has a number of inventions linked to his name. The tourbillon comes to mind of course. What about Berthoud? One watch that I know was partially inspired by Berthoud’s work was perhaps surprisingly the MB&F Legacy Machine No. 2 (hands-on here). Berthoud seems to be credited with creating the first movement with double balance wheels. We also wrote about this odd skeleton (literally) clock that contains a Ferdinand-Berthoud movement, a while back.
Ferdinand Berthoud is also known for producing a lot of navy marine chronometer clocks as well as scientific instruments. Many of these unique creations will no doubt be part of the upcoming watches we will see from the new brand in the years to come. However, I feel that for the genesis of the new brand, Chopard will mostly focus on Ferdinand Berthoud’s clocks and pocket watches that no doubt they have been both acquiring and studying over the last few years.
Another important question is to ask how La Chronometrie Ferdinand Berthoud watches will compare price-wise to Chopard watches? Even within Chopard there is a large price range between some of the more basic quartz watches and the higher-end L.U.C pieces with Chopard in-house made movements.
Chopard has indicated that La Chronometrie Ferdinand Berthoud will be “positioned at the very peak of the collection within the Chopard group.” That seems to suggest that the prices will be quite high and the watches will be rather impressive. My guess is that La Chronometrie Ferdinand Berthoud will attempt to compete with brands such as Breguet and F.P. Journe. We will find out when the brand is officially unveiled in the summer of 2014. But you can get more of a sneak peak from the website that is now live. ferdinandberthoud.ch