The substantially sized balance wheel has variable moment of inertia screws (apparently not in gold, for some reason) in its periphery and, as expected, two balance springs, one above and one below the wheel itself. The springs are head-to-tail mounted in an effort to counter most positional errors. Imagine the spring like a kakaós csiga (literally can’t think of anything else but this pastry). Well, for the elasticity and hence timekeeping capability of the spring, it really does matter a lot whether it is “hanging” with its outer mounting point located above or below. With two springs mounted head-to-tail, they average each other’s positional errors out.
Add to this the one-minute tourbillon that helps further average out some of the positional errors (when the watch is in the vertical position, that is – otherwise its positive effects are largely diminished) and you have perhaps not the most accurate mechanical watch in the world, but one that is technically very impressive and fascinating indeed.
Something scarcely said though a rather common theme among tourbillons is how loud they are. As poor as my vision is, that’s how good my hearing is – which, if you care to think about it, is a rather annoying combination – so in a perfectly silent room on a quiet night I certainly could hear it ticking away on the bedside table. It isn’t necessarily a problem, and it has to be said that the Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon is not even remotely as loud as some other watches I have heard, so it really isn’t intrusive or annoying – as, again, I recall some watches to be.
We have talked about the discreet styling, but not yet about how the Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral actually wears. Since there are no exposed movement details on the dial side, one is left with plenty of time to appreciate the finer details of the red gold case also available in white gold and platinum with a variety of dial options – and I presume a custom design for the latter wouldn’t be impossible to create either.
The 41mm-wide case, with its slim lugs, bold, but not oversized bezel and almost oily-smooth surfaces is an absolute joy to look at or – oh, yes – touch. I’d go so far as calling it a relaxing moment, reaching for the case and feeling its perfect surfaces. No sharp edges, not even on the underside of the lugs, just pure smoothness, like it was designed in a wind tunnel. Quality of execution is equally nice – though, to be fair, there really aren’t any captivating (and difficult-to-do) alternating finishings or well-defined edges.
The dial does have a Patek touch to it with “Tourbillon Double Spiral” written on it – it is in all caps on the dial, but the font is so small and light grey that typing it that way here in all caps just didn’t look right. It is this “if you know, you know” touch that some go crazy for – I personally am not really a fan of these subtle messages, and especially of anyone who spends the night at the other end of the dinner table trying to spy out whether one’s watch is the more rare version or not. It’s a very New York thing – can I call it that?
This particular version had the ivory-colored grand feu enamel dial, which is a beautiful, consistent off-white – without the grain of actual ivory, of course. The long and thin Roman numerals work in perfect harmony with what appears to be hand-filed hour and minute hands. The hands are long, sharp and so thin that I feel if I really tried I could hear them cut through the air underneath the crystal. Just eye-wateringly beautiful and a joy to look at every time. They are proudly different than the boring traditional designs so many brands stick to using. Legibility, needless to say, is excellent, apart from the slightly domed crystal that does have a light but noticeable tendency of showing glare and reflections.
The dark brown alligator strap is supple yet securely snug at the same time – again, likely approved by that experienced set of eyes and hands. The gold buckle is a thing of beauty too, with concave edges running on both sides, making for a genuinely complex shape overall that remains soft to the touch with no sharp edges anywhere. One bit of a surprising detail is the suede-like Alcantara lining inside, which really isn’t a game-changer but was comfortable to wear even at the end of a very long day.
Overall, the Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral is a truly remarkable piece of horology, and not for its two balance wheels or its tourbillon, but because it is a refreshingly new watch that I am told sells and – I can report – loves to be worn. Depending on the lighting, the red gold case shows lots of light swirls (the watch was an exhibition piece that clearly has been worn a fair bit before it got to me), which I could hide more or less by using “soft lighting.” Still, I loved to see the case show a bit of wear, even if it was nothing that couldn’t be removed with a bit of light polish, because it helped make this complex and very fine watch that much more “real.” And while I’d never dare speak for its creator, I am confident in saying that he made this watch to be worn.
Thanks to its proven almost ninja-like stealth capabilities, perfectly wearable size, and sublime execution, this Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral is a splendid piece for the type of collector who likes – and likes to wear – fine watches and does so first and foremost for himself (or herself) and not to impress others. While in white gold it would be even more discreet, it is just such a joyful thing to look at dressed in the warmth of red gold that I think this is the most complete among all the variants. Price for the Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral is $208,000. laurentferrier.ch
>Brand: Laurent Ferrier
>Model: Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Seasoned collector who wants to impress none but him- or herself.
>Best characteristic of watch: Excellent blend of discreet but stunning aesthetics and fine watchmaking.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Crystal is fairly reflective. Wish wheel spokes were beveled.