aurent Ferrier presents a new watch in the brand’s collection: the Sport Auto. A tribute piece to the extraordinary adventure that the watchmaker experienced as a young man, along with friend and co-founder François Servanin.
In the words of the man himself:
“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 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, 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.”
The exterior of the new Sport Auto model 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 the brand’s 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.
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 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 or 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.