While in Basel this year we stopped off at Laurent Ferrier for a bit of a catch-up, as they were, shall we say, “officially exhibiting” at Messeplatz. And though we’ve featured the Galet Traveller before. We thought you might want to see just how downright cool this cloisonné variation looked against a blue backdrop on a matching blue leather strap.
The Galet Traveller encompasses everything the modern gent with a jet set lifestyle needs, in a contemporary but yet classically styled timepiece. You would’ve heard me mention before that I truly believe that Laurent’s timepieces are what I would consider to be perfection, simply because of how sophisticated they are, aesthetically and technically. The timepieces he produces are just so well thought-out.
The Galet Traveller makes changing time zones a pleasurable experience. Positioned on the case band are two beautifully sculpted, oblong shaped push buttons at 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock, which are seamlessly integrated to follow “pebble” shaped curves of the 41.5 mm case.
As well as the quick set local-time function, the date displayed via an aperture at 3 o’clock will also simultaneously advance when the hand passes midnight. The aperture at 9 o’clock maintains the home time displayed over 24-hours, making it easy to check whether it is day or night in one’s place of residence even from the other side of the world.
Like previous variations, this piece maintains a circular satin-brushed pattern around the outside, in a tone of blue. As well as long white-gold minute indices, with two of these assegai-shaped markers indicating 12 o’clock. The beautifully sculpted “assegai-shaped” hands sweep over the three-dimensional dial. However, the most captivating aspect of this Galet Traveller is the central cloisonné enamel portion of the dial. A cloisonné enamelling is an art and is something seldom seen in watchmaking nowadays but what exactly is it?
Enamel is a soft glass composed of silica, red lead and soda. Mixed together with other elements, enamel is capable of creating intense hues with a subtle, magical depth. Elements used to add hue to enamel include iron which produces a grey colour, chromium which creates a green colour and iodine which makes a fiery red colour. When enamel is heated to temperatures of 800-1200 degrees Celsius, it liquefies and bonds to metal. Enamel is applied to a watch dial using a goose-quill. It must be slowly built up to create the appropriate depth so that its colour attains the correct hue.
There is no “one” set formula for enamel, which is where the “art” comes in. The enamel artist can create an infinite variety of colours through varying combinations of silica and metal oxides. In fact, the process of creating enamel is a decorative art that requires a tremendous amount of skill and patience from start to finish. The problem with enamel is that it is incredibly hard to control and at any stage during the production of an enamel dial, it may crack, air or gas bubbles might emerge and leave tiny holes, or the resulting colours might simply not be optimal – hence the premium.
Cloisonné is an enamelling technique in which the outline of the dial design is formed by first adding cloisons (which is French for partitions) to the dial by adding gold wires or thin strips that will eventually become a pattern. These remain visible in the finished piece, separating the different compartments of the enamel or inlays, which are often of several colours. Cloisonné enamel objects are worked on with enamel powder made into a paste, which then needs to be fired in a kiln. The outcome, no two dials are ever the same making each piece aesthetically unique.
As mentioned before in our previous articles, the Galet Traveller make use of the self-winding Calibre LF 230.01 (that has been certified by the Besançon Observatory), from the famous line of Micro-Rotor movements with natural escapement. It took Laurent Ferrier two years to develop this movement and the reason behind this is because the dual-time function is fully integrated into the movement, meaning that it is an integral part of the base calibre. And in true Laurent Ferrier style, the beautifully finished movement can be observed through the sapphire crystal case back.
The Galet Traveller is one of our favourite timepieces from Laurent Ferrier, the simple appearance, refined aesthetics and beautifully finished movement, is the true hallmark of an haute horolgerie timepiece. While the Galet Traveller isn’t classically sized, the 41 mm case does wear a lot smaller than you’d expect.
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Traveller is available in white-gold, with blue tone satin finish, or rose-gold, with a nickel satin finish. Both pieces are priced at £62,900. For more information on the Galet Traveller, visit the official Laurent Ferrier website.