(A continuation of the article “Surrounding the SIHH...”) A relatively new brand, created in 2010—or more precisely a brand in the making—the first pieces should be in retail stores by Spring 2014, Heritage was born from the chronometric dream of Karsten Fraessdorf. A great admirer of antique haute horlogerie, this master watchmaker—with a rare rigour and incomparable excellence—is completely absorbed by his ultimate goal: to reach perfection in mechanical chronometry. His approach is quite pragmatic. “I am the first to take a new path if it brings improvement, but the last to renounce the traditional approach if it proves to be the best,” he declares. All of his technical choices are derived from this attitude.
A large balance with a diameter of 17 mm that beats at the peaceful rhythm of 18,000 vibrations per hour? As early as 1773, the great Ferdinand Berthoud had already explained that “by doubling the diameter of a balance, you reduce the friction by half without changing the amount of force…”
A constant force escapement? With two escape wheels and six pallets, he obtains a constant linear force over 50 hours. A barrel with a 17-mm diameter? The ancient rules tell us that the optimum size of a barrel must be equal to that of the balance.
We might ask many questions, but Karsten Fraessdorf has an answer for all of them, as he shows us his timepieces, all finished with exceptional care. In addition to the traditional time indications, the Centenus watch displays the very complex traditional Chinese time, which subdivides the day into 100 units. The Firmamentum, a true navigation watch, is equipped with an angular seconds hand that lets the wearer measure the movements of the sun, the planets, and the stars. He can thus determine his position “with an accuracy of 91 metres at the equator,” explains Fraessdorf. [Editor’s note: Europa Star will return in detail to these models in a later issue.]
“My role is to get the machine started and finish the development so that we can move on to series production,” explains Didier Decker. “We are drawing up the production plans with Centagora (see Europa Star 4/12) and we work with a network of sub-contractors that are 100-per cent Swiss. The first series components will be delivered this autumn. At the same time, I am building our distribution network. The watches are intended for informed collectors (starting price is CHF 34,000) and we are aiming for a production of 35 to 40 watches for 2014, while we intend to reach 100 watches per year at our cruising speed.” Not far from there, at the entrance to his stand at the GTE, is a man with a smile on his face. Laurent Ferrier has largely proven that small series production can enjoy widespread consideration. We wish the same destiny for Heritage.
Source: Europa Star February - March 2013 Magazine Issue