For the latest model in its elegantly retro-look Square series, independent Genevan watchmaker Laurent Ferrier turns to a style pioneered in the 1940s, legend says, by a watch repairer in California, which refurbished a number of dials with an unconventional combo of Roman numerals in the upper half and Arabic numerals in the lower. This so-called “California dial,” still a favorite among some collectors, perhaps partly due to its relative rarity, brings a distinctive look to this week’s Watch to Watch, the ultra-exclusive Laurent Ferrier Square California.
Like the original Square case developed by Laurent Ferrier in 2015, this one has a sporty, sculptural look that is “inspired by a pebble” while also “leaning toward a cushion shape.” Made of stainless steel, it measures 41 mm by 41 mm in diameter, making it slightly larger than its predecessors in Ferrier’s Classic collection. The case has the signature ball-shaped crown and hooked caseback with an olivette that allows easy access to the movement for a watchmaker. The sunburst blue dial, framed by a white railway track, uses white decals for the Arabic and Roman numerals, along with white-painted drop-shaped hour markers. The dial also hosts the usual assortment of Laurent Ferrier hallmark details, including white-gold arrow-shaped hour and minute hands, with white Super-LumiNova-coated tips, and a snailed small seconds subdial with its red-painted baton hand.
The movement inside the Square California is Laurent Ferrier’s self-winding Caliber FBN 229.01, the first such mechanism to be developed, assembled and adjusted entirely in-house by the watchmaker. Noteworthy for its use of a gold, unidirectional pawl-fitted micro-rotor and a silicon escapement with a double-direct impulse on the balance, it stores a power reserve of 72 hours, or three days. Ferrier’s innovative use of two escape wheels and an appropriately shaped lever allows for the balance to be impelled twice per oscillation and thus maximizes energy for a high balance amplitude. In practice, it also means that winding the movement is easier because it requires less mechanical force. As with other movements from Laurent Ferrier, this one boasts a plethora of haute horlogerie finishes, including satin-finishing, polishing, chamfering, circular graining and côtes de Genève.
The Laurent Ferrier Square California (also referred to as the “California Dreamin’ series”) is strictly limited to 11 pieces, numbered 0 to 10, and sold exclusively in the United States and Canada. It comes on a light brown, Alcantara-lined, Barbialla calf leather strap and retails for $48,000.