Passionate about creating one-of-a-kind timepieces and born in 1753, Ferdinand Berthoud aimed to improve the efficiency of their proprietary calibres to new heights. The technicians and craftsmen at Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud give birth to exceptional timepieces by fusing history and cutting-edge technology, fine craftsmanship, and traditional expertise. Each timepiece that left their workshops has taken years to conceptualize and months to painstakingly craft.
At Watches And Wonders 2023, they unveiled the final edition of their very first caliber – the Chronomètre FB1. We caught up with Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, CEO Of Ferdinand Berthoud to discuss the rich heritage of the brand, its calibers, and more.
THM: What drove you to bring the brand back?
Karl: I wouldn’t like to talk about Ferdinand Berthoud as a brand. He was a great watchmaker in the 18th century, known for his marine chronometers. He was the most important watchmaker to pass on his knowledge to other watchmakers. The 18th century was all about precision because you would rely on this precision to navigate through the seas. I came across the name ‘Berthoud’ because of our museum featuring timekeeping devices since the 15th century. We had a section dedicated to chronometers and when we think chronometers, we think Berthoud. I was fortunate enough to purchase the name Berthoud and then came a period of reflection on how to relaunch the brand with the ideals of what Berthoud did in the 18th century on the wrist of someone today. With several timepieces launched, it’s the perfect blend of history and contemporary watchmaking.
THM: What makes the timepieces so special?
Karl: We’ve retained the design philosophy of Berthoud. With the launch of FB3, we are catering to smaller wrists. Technically, it is a very sophisticated timepiece. Since our humble beginnings, we have earned great recognition. Now, we have a waiting list which was not always the case. From our first exhibit in 2018 to now, we are greatly recognized. Ferdinand Berthoud isn’t just a brand, it’s a homage to Berthoud.
THM: Given the level of craftsmanship that goes behind every timepiece, are they limited editions or limited productions?
Karl: There are both. We will be making 38 movements and then it will be discontinued. This is because we cannot parallelly, produce more movements. We are limited in production. Just finishing the components is an incredible job that has to be learned for months and years.
THM: What makes the hairspring so special?
Karl: Ferdinand Berthoud is known for his research around hair springs or chronometry devices or balance wheels. In the current timepiece, there is a cylindrical hairspring that is visible through the port hole. This reminds us of the port hole you have on a ship where you can check if the movement was working alright.
Ferdinand Berthoud would have probably said, “Keep it simple” but underneath it’s very complicated.
Watch the entire interview: