“At the start of 2022, I am proud to present a new watch in our collection: the Sport Auto. A tribute piece to the extraordinary adventure that we experienced as young men.
As many of you are already aware, my friend François Servanin and I founded Maison LAURENT FERRIER in 2009. To better understand the beginning of this odyssey, we have to go back some forty years in time….
Let’s go back to 9 June 1979, on the Sarthe circuit, at Le Mans. François and I were about to start the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Although we had participated in this race together for a number of years, tension was still running high. We started 20th on the starting line. We were among the top of Group 5, thanks to my qualifying time of 3:55.080. It was 2 p.m.: the race was about to start. François took the decisive start, determined to impose our Porsche 935 Turbo in the standings.
After 24 hours of racing, 292 laps, 3,988.254 kilometres covered, a top speed of 312 km/h in the Mulsane straight, a rainy night but a dazzling sunrise, stress at its peak, 24 pit stops for various supplies, repairs and changes of driver, it was 10 June 1979, at 3 p.m. and François Trisconi, our teammate, finally made it across the finish line. We were 3rd overall, just behind a certain Paul Newman. A remarkable achievement for three amateur drivers like us!
The story continues in the paddocks where, in a state of elation, I offered a Nautilus to François, as a token of gratitude after this shared performance. By way of thanks and inspired by this gift, François, a born entrepreneur, then challenged me: ‘What if after this feat, we continued the adventure as a team by making our own watch?!’ Thirty years on, the dream became reality and Maison LAURENT FERRIER was born.
Today, more than forty years have passed since this exceptional podium, but not a single week goes by without us recalling this memory. It is also thanks to this that we designed the Sport Auto. We thought it would have been the ideal timepiece to wear during each of our races.”
A REINTERPRETED CASE
“In watchmaking as well as during our many racing adventures, I have always been very attentive to the slightest sensations. Just like the vibrations of the steering wheel, the roar of the engine, the screeching of the tyres, the heat of the leather of my gloves or even the intensity of the speed keeping me firmly in my seat, our Sport Auto had to arouse true emotions.”
The exterior of the Sport Auto is a refined interplay of firm and rounded curves enlivened by a few counter-curves outlining a bodywork with a perfectly balanced design. The case comes in grade 5 titanium and measures 41.5 mm in diameter. LAURENT FERRIER has chosen to add a contrasting bezel with softer lines, an evolution of our Square case, to the tonneau-shaped middle case with a very pronounced look. As with each of the pieces in the collection, they made sure to create a real harmony between the different components, with the idea of giving the Sport Auto a silhouette that is both sporty and curvaceous. To reinforce the contrast of this confrontation of curves from the Grand Sport Tourbillon, but slightly smaller in size, and give an aerodynamic aspect to the timepiece, the finishes are different on each of its faces. The bezel displays a circular satin-brushed finish that contrasts with its mirror-polished flanks as well as with the vertical satin-brushed middle case.
Icing on the cake, a fully integrated metal bracelet has been added to this case, also in grade 5 titanium, which takes up the vertical satin finish enhanced by polished flanks. The inclined sides of the centre links are also polished. These different finishes give the Sport Auto a very mechanical aspect, another tribute to traditional watchmaking mixed with the two founders’ passion for cars.
The emblematic LAURENT FERRIER ball-shaped crown is, for the first time, screwed down and elegantly integrated into the middle case. The generous features of this crown allow pleasant handling in order to give the initial impetus to the automatic movement. This screw-down crown, combined with water resistance tested to 120 metres, guarantee a maximum comfort for daily wear.
A MULTI-SHADE OPALINE DIAL
The domed sapphire dominates the watch while giving it an irresistible curve to the touch. The latter offers a bird's-eye view of a dial bringing together all the LAURENT FERRIER aesthetic codes. Its different shades of blue, combined with its opaline finish, gives it a soft and powdery line. White gold drop-shaped hands and indexes illuminated by green Super-LumiNova add tone to the dial. At 6 o'clock, a snailed small seconds dial is enlivened with powdered grey markers.
As in the entire LAURENT FERRIER collection, legibility is a fundamental aspect. Here, it is maximised thanks to the grey minute track. The logo and the central cross also match this colour. A bevelled date window underlined with a fine coordinated transfer is delicately positioned at 3 o'clock. As with the Tourbillon models, the “Sport Auto” movement indication, tone-on-tone transferred between the central hands and the small seconds, completes the composition.
A BRAND-NEW AUTOMATIC CALIBRE
The Maison’s second automatic calendar movement, the LF 270.01 calibre, is the result of an exclusive LAURENT FERRIER development. As a subtle blend of a tribute to the micro-rotor with natural escapement and a more assertive and sporty style, this movement is entirely designed, decorated, assembled and adjusted in the LAURENT FERRIER workshops.
Less sensitive than the natural escapement and more suited to sports watches, this is a Swiss lever escapement using an automatic winding system with an off-centre micro-rotor. For non-negligible benefits in terms of resistance to shocks and vibrations, this movement is fitted with a unidirectional ball bearing replacing the traditional ratchet system. Like a balance wheel, the micro-rotor is equipped with a 950 platinum oscillating weight, placed directly between the plate and the bridge to ensure ideal stability and maximised winding power. Once fully wound, this calibre offers a power reserve of more than 72 hours.
AN IMPORTANT SENSE OF DETAIL
A sapphire crystal case back, fixed with specific screws, similar to those used in motorsport, reveals a movement with impeccable finishes and whose architecture takes up the main codes of the brand's first automatic movement.
Each LF 270.01 calibre alone requires more than 139 manual finishing operations. For instance, the bridge of the micro-rotor movement is meticulously decorated by hand: the angles are softened then finished with gentian wood and diamantine, while the surface is mirror-polished. In addition, the movement features several internal angles, multiple zinc-polished surfaces and numerous satin-finishing and circular-graining, all executed by hand in the LAURENT FERRIER workshops.
For the first time in the history of LAURENT FERRIER, the micro-rotor is made here in 950 platinum to achieve a more contemporary contrast with the ruthenium-coated bridges. The latter have a horizontal satin finish which offers the movement, a dynamic look that is both very modern but also very intense. Combined with the dark shades of the grade 5 titanium of the bracelet and case; this reinforces the penetrating and sporty character of this new exceptional timepiece.
Watch Sport Auto's presentation video - Read English transcription
Hello everyone, I am delighted to unveil our new model: the Sport Auto. Thank you for joining us for this presentation. We are very happy to introduce our new timepiece we worked on together with Christian on the basis of a sporty piece. We had been asked for a long time to make a sporty piece, with a stainless steel bracelet, which we had not done until now. We made the Grand Sport Tourbillon in 2019, it was a test to see how such a sport piece would be received by our collectors. It was very well received but it remained an inaccessible piece with a high price level. So we had the idea to offer a slightly smaller piece in terms of case diameter but with an automatic movement. In order to do this properly, we had to develop a movement that until now did not exist in our collection, a movement that was sportier and more resistant than our natural escapement, which remains a magnificent calibre for initiated collectors, but perhaps less adapted to a sport piece. It was Christian who studied the movement and he will tell you about it in a moment. The idea of this piece was to have a sporty piece, soft and pleasant on the wrist, with a real character while being in adequacy with the rest of the collection. We have a bezel shape that is based on the Square case that we released in 2015 and the rest is a set of middle case, case back and screwed bezel, waterproof to 120 meters and have a bracelet as simple as possible. Aesthetically it is a very soft piece, the titanium is satin-brushed in an extremely soft way to make the metal look matte. There are polished parts, both on the central links of the bracelet and on the sides of the bezel. The middle case is entirely satin brushed with polished side strips. As always, the idea is to have a piece that is pleasing from all angles. In all positions the piece must be pleasant to look at. For the first time, we have a screwed crown that makes the watch even more resistant and waterproof. The timepiece is equipped with a folding clasp with 3 blades with a security of double push buttons. The integrated bracelet is made of titanium grade 5 front of it is brushed whilst its side are mirror polished The dial is a blue gradient with an opaline finish and drop-shaped indexes in white gold In philosophy, the hands look like our initial Assegai hands, but obviously, wider, to be able to receive a green Super-LumiNova. The hands are always stamped, as we have always been accustomed to do, it is a guarantee of quality. We also have a specificity on this dial, it’s a window aperture that I had never seen elsewhere before. It is a window with a large slope that comes on the central part and gives light to the date disc. It's a brand-new calibre. At first glance, everyone will think that we have taken our natural escapement calibre and simply integrated a Swiss lever escapement, but this is not the case at all. This is our 4th calibre at LAURENT FERRIER. This is the first time we have used a 4 hertz Swiss anchor system. Until now we had the double hairspring tourbillon with a Swiss anchor escapement, then a natural escapement, more recently a Swiss anchor escapement but in 3 hertz and here for the very first time we decided to work on a 4 hertz Swiss anchor escapement. We really started from scratch, the mechanical principles have been completely revised and adapted to this escapement. The design of the micro-mass is different than before and the whole winding system is also different. We also integrated a date window. It is not the first time since it already exists on our Traveller. But once again we have not taken anything back and had to redesign everything for this model. The only thing reused in our existing calibres is the date disc, and its jumper-spring. We redesigned everything, not only for technical reasons linked to this new escapement, but also for questions of robustness. Indeed, we cannot use our natural escapement in a “sport” timepiece. The movement therefore had to be extremely reliable and shock-resistant while retaining all the fundamental codes of the LAURENT FERRIER house. It is not a piece that is destined to be released in several thousands of pieces at all. It is still LAURENT FERRIER, but we had to make other choices choices than we made for our natural escapement. In the specifications for this calibre, I had to respect the same power reserve constraints as for the micro-rotor with a natural escapement. In order to reach a 72h power reserve with a Swiss anchor escapement, just like our natural escapement micro-rotor. I had to use a one-way ball bearing for the first time. This allowed us to eliminate the pawl, a beautiful but very sensitive component, which was used on the natural escapement micro-rotor. This ball bearing has the advantage of being robust against shocks and vibrations. Another compromise we had to make on this calibre is the choice of materials for the weight. Indeed, it had to be heavier, to have a better winding power. It is therefore no longer in gold but in platinum. Unfortunately, this is not an easy material to work with, especially in terms of finishing. In the design of this new calibre, we had the idea of having terminations that were a little more modern and a little less classic than the traditional Côtes de Genève of the micro-rotor with a natural escapement. We were on the quest for a modern feel reminiscing of the Grand Sport. We integrated straight satin brushed finishes in reference to the automobile or even aviation. Always in this modern spirit, a little more muscular and bold, we kept the dark colours. The bridges are ruthenium treated with an horizontal satin brushed finish. That brings out the contrast of the bridges architecture and also has a nice balance with the platinum mass.