Although Geneva-based watchmaker Laurent Ferrier is well known in haute horology circles, a lesser known fact about the man is his history as a semi-professional race car driver. In 1979 he ranked 3rd in 24 Heures du Mans, an annual endurance race in France, behind American actor and race car driver Paul Newman. Newman in turn helped popularize one of the most in-demand modern sports watches, the Rolex Daytona (a story we discussed briefly here). For London Craft Week 2018 and to showcase his passion for race car driving, Mr. Ferrier has now released the Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor Montre Ecole ‘British Racing Green,’ watch whose bold green dial is inspired by the international motor racing color of the United Kingdom.
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor Montre Ecole ‘British Racing Green’ is the fifth watch from the brand to feature the “school piece” case, with previous models including some of Mr. Ferrier’s most complicated timepieces. This release is the simplest “school piece” watch since the case debuted with the Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro Rotor “Montre Ecole” watch (which we covered here), but with a boatload of extra personality when compared to Mr. Ferrier’s typical offerings thanks to that lacquered green dial. The brand tells us the dial was inspired by the lacquer paint used on vintage cars, and the silver small seconds dial is meant to be reminiscent of car rims, while the railroad minute track and hour markers are a nod to the speedometer. When I look at this watch I don’t see any of that, but I do see an incredibly attractive dial that looks clean and legible without being boring.
The small seconds sub-dial on the Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor Montre Ecole ‘British Racing Green’ is notably different from all the other “school piece” watches that have come before it, with short line markers in 5-second intervals and dot markers in between. The sub-dial features a circular satin brushed finish for the outer circle and a snailed finish in the center. The applied indexes at 3, 9 and 12 o’clock are made of 18k white gold, as are the brand’s trademark assegai-shaped hour and minute hands and baton-shaped second hand. The use of a mixture of applied and printed indexes is reminiscent of the original Galet Micro Rotor “Montre Ecole” watch, while the use of a railroad minute track hearkens back to the Galet Regulator (covered here). This re-use of the brand’s staple elements in new combinations makes this watch instantly recognizable as a Laurent Ferrier, while keeping the design fresh at the same time.
Fittingly for a sports-themed watch, the Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor Montre Ecole ‘British Racing Green’ is cased in stainless steel and measures 40mm by 10.7mm, putting it right in the “Goldilocks zone” of wearability for most of us. The watch comes attached to a dark brown leather strap with pin buckle, which the brand tells us was inspired by car bonnet straps used in the 1960s. The one real let-down for me is the water resistance of this watch, which is rated at a paltry 30m. Although this is more of a dress watch than a true sports watch, I still would have liked to see 50m or greater offered here to provide some assurance for prospective owners who want to use this as a daily-wearer.
Like all watches from the brand, the true attraction of the Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor Montre Ecole ‘British Racing Green’ is only visible via the sapphire crystal exhibition caseback. The manufacture Caliber FBN 229.01 is luxuriously finished with Côte de Genève on the bridges and circular graining on the mainplate, bevelled wheel spokes, and polished screw heads. The pawl, balance cock and micro-rotor bridge are all mirror-finished by hand, and the guilloché motif on the 18k gold micro rotor is hand-applied. This movement features a screw balance oscillating at 21,600 A/h (3Hz), 35 jewels, and a generous power reserve of 72 hours. The escapement is made of silicon for enhanced magnetic resistance, and the micro-rotor is mounted on an exclusive shock protection system called “silentbloc,” which should make this caliber quite resilient against outside interference (aside from that lamentable water resistance rating).
Whether or not you buy into the racing themes of this timepiece, the Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor Montre Ecole ‘British Racing Green’ is still a welcome addition to the brand’s lineup. Mr. Ferrier began his eponymous brand with ultra-classic dress watches, so it’s refreshing to see them begin to experiment with bold colors in this watch and the salmon dial Galet Minute Repeater School Piece from earlier this year. Pricing for the Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor Montre Ecole ‘British Racing Green’ is 37,000 CHF. laurentferrier.ch