Master watchmaker Laurent Ferrier is back with the all-new Sport Auto timepiece. A piece dedicated to the incredible journey of two friends as young men. François Servanin and Laurent Ferrier launched Maison Laurent Ferrier in 2009, as many of us already know. We must go back forty years in time to better grasp the beginning of this trip.
Let’s go back to June 9, 1979, at Le Mans, on the Sarthe track. Laurent and François were set to begin the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans event. Despite the fact that they had raced together for several years, there was still a lot of animosity between them. On the starting line, they were 20th. Thanks to his qualifying time of 3:55.080, they were among the top of Group 5.
The story continues in the paddocks when Laurent presented François with a Nautilus as a mark of gratitude following their great performance. François, a natural entrepreneur, then challenged him, saying, ‘What if, after this feat, they continued the trip as a team by making their own watch?!’ The dream became a reality thirty years later, and Maison Laurent Ferrier was founded.
Despite the fact that it has been more than forty years since this extraordinary podium, not a single week goes by without them recalling it. They also designed the Sport Auto as a result of this. It would have been the ideal timepiece to wear for each of their races, they reasoned.
A REINTERPRETED CASE
Laurent Ferrier has always been particularly attentive to the slightest feelings, both in watchmaking and during their many racing exploits.” Their Sport Auto had to stimulate actual emotions, just as the vibrations of the steering wheel, the scream of the engine, the screeching of the tyres, the heat of the leather of his gloves, or even the intensity of the speed that kept him firmly in his seat.”
The Sport Auto’s appearance is a polished interplay of hard and smooth curves accented by a few counter-curves that outline a flawlessly balanced bodywork. The case is made of grade 5 titanium and has a diameter of 41.5 mm.
To the tonneau-shaped centre case with a very distinct aspect, Laurent Ferrier has chosen to add a contrasting bezel with gentler lines, an extension of our Square case. They made sure to achieve a true harmony between the different components, as they did with each of the pieces in the collection, with the goal of giving the Sport Auto a silhouette that is both sporty and voluptuous. The finishes on each of the clock’s faces are different to highlight the contrast of this confrontation of curves from the Grand Sport Tourbillon, but slightly reduced in size, and to give the timepiece an aerodynamic aspect.
The bezel is satin-brushed in a circular pattern that contrasts with the mirror-polished flanks and the vertical satin-brushed main case. As icing on the cake, a fully integrated metal bracelet, also in grade 5 titanium, has been added to this case, which complements the vertical satin finish with polished flanks. The centre links’ inclined sides are likewise polished. These various finishes give the Sport Auto a mechanical feel, paying homage to classical watchmaking while also honouring the two creators’ enthusiasm for automobiles.
For the first time, the iconic Laurent Ferrier ball-shaped crown is screwed down and neatly merged into the central casing. The crown’s large characteristics make it easy to handle and provide an initial boost to the automated action. This screw-down crown, paired with a water-resistant rating of 120 metres, ensures optimal everyday use comfort.
A DIAL WITH MULTI-SHADE OPALINE
The watch is dominated by a domed sapphire that has an appealing curvature to the touch. The latter gives you a bird’s-eye view of a dial that combines all of Laurent Ferrier’s artistic principles. It has a smooth and powdery line due to its various colours of blue and opaline finish. The dial is accented with green Super-LumiNova-illuminated white gold drop-shaped hands and indexes. A snailed tiny seconds dial with powdered grey markings sits at 6 o’clock.
Legibility is a key feature of the entire Laurent Ferrier line. The grey minute track helps to maximise it here. This colour is also used in the logo and the middle cross. At 3 o’clock, a bevelled date window with a fine coordinated transfer is gently positioned. The “Sport Auto” movement signal, tone-on-tone exchanged between the central hands and the small seconds, completes the composition, as it does with the Tourbillon models.
A COMPLETELY NEW AUTOMATIC CALIBRE
The LF 270.01 calibre, the Maison’s second automatic calendar movement, is the result of an exclusive Laurent Ferrier development. This movement is totally conceived, decorated, constructed, and calibrated in the Laurent Ferrier workshops as a subtle blend of a tribute to the micro-rotor with natural escapement and a more forceful and sporting appearance.
This Swiss lever escapement has an automatic winding system with an off-center micro-rotor, making it less sensitive than the natural escapement and more suited to sports watches. This movement replaces the usual ratchet system with a unidirectional ball bearing, which provides significant benefits in terms of shock and vibration resistance.
AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT
A sapphire crystal case back, secured with special screws similar to those used in motorsport, displays an impeccably finished movement whose architecture echoes the brand’s first automatic movement.
More than 139 manual finishing processes are required for each LF 270.01 calibre. The micro-rotor is manufactured in 950 platinum for the first time in Laurent Ferrier’s history, to create a more contemporary contrast with the ruthenium-coated bridges. The latter has a horizontal satin finish that gives movement and a dynamic aesthetic that is both modern and intense.
When combined with the dark tones of the grade 5 titanium bracelet and case, the piercing and sporty character of this exceptional timepiece is amplified. Truly a tribute piece to the extraordinary adventure that the two men experienced in the good old days.