Founded by the former Creative Director of Patek Philippe, Laurent Ferrier needs no introduction among serious watch collectors. The brand has developed a reputation for classically styled timepieces which conceal an extremely high degree of hand-finishing and technically advanced movements. Perhaps most emblematic of this design ethos is the Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral (reviewed here), which appears to be a simple gold dress watch until you turn it around to view the stunning movement within. The Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece being announced for SIHH 2018 is something of a departure from this formula, offering for the first time from the brand a full calendar display on the dial and an annual calendar complication.
“School Piece” is certainly an unusual name for this release, as I don’t imagine many students will be able to afford the sticker price of one of these watches. The brand tells us that this name refers to the case, which has been used twice before by the Galet Micro Rotor ‘Montre Ecole’ and the Galet Regulateur. This case was designed as kind of an homage to Mr. Ferrier’s first creations at watchmaking school, and is inspired by the rounded shape of early pocket watches which were converted into wristwatches. The watch comes attached to either a beige calf leather or black alligator strap with Alcantara lining (which is a synthetic microfiber with a suede-like texture), secured with a pin buckle or double blade folding clasp.
The dial of the Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece is clean and legible by full calendar standards, although it is still by far one of the busiest dials from the brand. Two dial options are available, either a silver tone (which appears white in the brand’s photos) or a slate grey. The dial employs a cross-hair design, which is combined with bold indexes at 3 and 9 o’clock and a double-bold index at 12 o’clock to assist with legibility. Half-length indexes are used to mark the minutes, lending the chapter ring a ruler-like aesthetic which ties in to the “school piece” theme. Beyond the chapter ring is an outer date ring featuring blue Arabic numerals in a vintage font, with a contrasting red “31” occupying the 12 o’clock position.
Bevelled apertures between 11 and 1 o’clock display the day of the week and month, just above the “Laurent Ferrier Geneve” branding. The month and date can be fast-adjusted both forwards and backwards via the crown, while the day of the week is adjusted via the button at 10 o’clock. A red pointer hand indicates the current date, while the brand’s signature “Assegai” style hands (which is a type of African throwing spear) indicate the hours and minutes. These hands are made of 18K / 750 210Pd white gold, which is then either painted black for the slate grey dial option or ruthenium treated for the silver dial option. A small seconds sub-dial occupies the 6 o’clock position and features a baton-style second hand with a matching counterweight.
A variety of finishing techniques have been employed for the Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece dial. The central disc has been vertically satin-brushed, while the chapter ring features circular satin brushing. The small seconds sub-dial likewise offers a circular satin brushed outer ring and a contrasting snailed finish in the center. The slate grey dial option shows off this finishing better by providing stronger contrast, while the silver dial option will likely require much closer observation to notice the differing textures. The dial-work in either case is quite subtle yet refined, which is nothing less than I would expect from a brand which touts simplicity as a core design ethos.
The case of the Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece measures 40mm by 12.8mm, with domed sapphire crystals on both sides. It features straight thin lugs, with a “pastille” end-piece decoration mirrored by the winding crown at 3 o’clock. The case is water-resistant to 3 Bar, or approximately 30m, so prospective owners should avoid letting it get immersed. In another first for the brand, the Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece will be offered in a “pale” 18K yellow gold alloy, as well as red gold and steel options. We have no images of these versions as yet, but I’m hoping the pale gold version will look similar to A. Lange & Söhne’s “honey gold” alloy, which was used for their 1815 ‘200th Anniversary F.A. Lange’ watch (hands-on here).
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece is powered by the Calibre LF126.01, which is a manual-winding movement with an 80-hour power reserve. Sadly we have not received images of this movement as of yet, but we’re told it will feature Côtes de Genève decoration on ruthenium treated bridges, circular graining on the mainplate, sides and interior angles manually chamfered, and polished screw heads. A power reserve indicator will also be featured movement-side and will be sunburst-finished. LF126.01 also features a “blade” type click ratchet similar to Laurent Ferrier’s tourbillon double hairspring calibre. The movement is comprised of 235 components and 23 jewels, and uses a screw balance which oscillates at 21,600 A/h, or 3Hz.
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece is an interesting development from the brand, offering more information dial-side than any of their previous watches and debuting their first annual calendar calibre. Dial legibility appears to be excellent despite the increased information on offer, but this is still a very different watch from the clean and classic dress watches Laurent Ferrier is renowned for. We’ll have to withhold final judgement until we can handle this watch in the metal, in particular the “pale gold” version which for now remains something of a mystery. The Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece (Reference LCF025) is being offered for 50,000 CHF in steel, or 55,000 CHF for either gold version. laurentferrier.ch