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Everything You Need to Know About Watchmaker Laurent Ferrier: The GQ Eye: GQ on Style: GQThe GQ Eye

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On November 15, 2013 at 10:31 AM
Hodinkee's Watch Report: Get to Know Laurent Ferrier
By Benjamin Clymer
patek philippe There are different levels of watch snobbery. There are those people who scoff at a quartz watch, there are those people that scoff at a Hamilton, there are those people that scoff at a Rolex, and those people that scoff at a Patek Philippe. There is nobody, however, that scoffs at a Laurent Ferrier. Who or what is, Laurent Ferrier, exactly?
patek philippe replica watches Well, first, before we go deep into the watch nerdery that makes him so unbelievably cool today, let's talk about what he was doing in 1979. He was working for Patek Philippe in Geneva, while racing cars. And that includes not only racing at LeMans that year, but actually placing third, behind a dude named Paul Newman. Yes, a Patek Philippe watchmaker placed third at LeMans behind Paul Newman. Believe it, because that's who Laurent Ferrier is.
patek philippe watches He spent the next thirty odd years climbing the ranks of Patek to become technical director, before leaving just two years short of retirement to start his own eponymous label of truly hand-made watches. And now that's what he and his small crew of watchmakers do day in and day out—they sit in a converted single-family home in Vernier, Switzerland (just outside Geneva) and build watches by hand. Last year, only 100 watches came out of the Laurent Ferrier's workshop, we'll be lucky to see 140 this year. For comparison's sake, consider the fact that Patek Philippe produces over 50,000 watches per year, Rolex close to a one million.  Now think about that when you see in your mind as  "a luxury watch."
patek philippe watches Ferrier made a name for himself by developing an innovative tourbillon called a double-spiral, and doing it in an utterly elegant case with practically no mention of the lurking complication on the rear of the watch. The year it was unveiled, it took home the most prestigious prize at the Grand Prix of horology (the GPHG). The watch is absolutely superlative, aesthetically, and technically. Still, nobody had ever heard of him outside of Geneva.
patek philippe watches Then came a slightly more approachable watch—the Galet Micro-rotor. While the tourbillon well exceeded $100,000, the new Galet would be available around $50,000. Sure, still a lot to most of us, but hardly a fortune in the upper echelons of watch collecting. What the Micro-Rotor does so well is combine the absolute finest of finishing techniques—all done completely by hind in this small workshop by a team of no more than 10 watchmakers—and traditional, modern looks. Each watch, no matter if it's a unique tourbillon or a simple white gold micro-rotor, is assembled completely by a single person—start to finish. In fact, there are only three people who work on tourbillons, and another four who work on micro-rotors, then two who finish the movement. The resulting caliber is nothing short of extraordinary to look at, and even those who know little about high-end watchmaking can see, plain and simple, how much work has gone into a Laurent Ferrier watch.
patek philippe replica watches What makes LF so interesting compared to similarly priced hand-made competitors is that the main collection—the micro-rotor—is a self-winding movement.  Most watches of this style and price tend to be manually wound so connoseuirs can appreciate the work done on the movement without a winding rotor blocking visibility. Manually wound watches are of course much less user friendly then automatic watches, so Laurent Ferrier has built a watch with the best of both worlds - an expertly finished movement with a small self-winding rotor that doesn't block any of the caliber that collectors have paid so much to see. Laurent Ferrier watches may not cost much more than your average Patek or Vacheron, but seeing them in the US is still quite rare.  In fact, when one does arrive, it's newsworthy.  
Still, I can't recommend you all take a look at a Laurent Ferrier wristwatch should the opportunity ever arise. They are, in my opinion, one of the finest watch manufactures on the planet, and could represent an incredibly strong brand in the years to come, not unlike A. Lange & Sohne or FP Journe. In a world of watch snobs, Laurent Ferrier is bulletproof.
You can read more about Laurent Ferrer on Hodinkee or on their official homepage.
Benjamin Clymer is the founder and executive editor of Hodinkee. For the latest in horological news, reviews, and original stories, visit hodinkee.com
More Hodinkee on GQ.com:
Watches With Some Serious History
How to Buy a Watch in Autumn Auction Season
An Exclusive Look at J.J. Redick's Watch Collection
Photo: Hodinkee
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