What are the attributes of a good everyday watch? This is easily one of the most frequently asked questions within the watch community. Although every individual has a different set of criteria, most would agree that an everyday timepiece should be versatile, reliable, durable, and of course, visually attractive. Few watches better meet these qualifications than the Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar Montre École “Vintage” in stainless steel.
Delicately walking the tightrope between sport and dress, the Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar is equally at home in both environments. Built robustly and dependably, this piece is made from stainless steel, yielding greater resilience under the demands of everyday use. Finally, Laurent Ferrier watches are obscure enough to be special, yet still recognizable enough to be well regarded by watch enthusiasts across the globe. With this impressive pedigree, it is no surprise that the Galet Annual Calendar would be an optimal choice for an everyday timepiece. To add an additional layer of mystique to the piece, this particular example, the “vintage” variant of the Galet Annual Calendar, is part of a 5 piece limited edition with the current color scheme and finishing appointments.
In the short period that Laurent Ferrier has been making watches under his own brand name, the legendary watchmaker has released reference after reference of successful timepieces. When Laurent Ferrier officially launched his brand in 2010, he brought over 35 years of experience working for Patek Philippe in the development of the Nautilus. Additionally, Laurent had an equally successful career as a professional racecar driver. These foundational experiences have driven the development of the Laurent Ferrier brand values that stand behind the manufacturer’s decorated legacy. In the years following the 2010 official launch, Laurent slowly incorporated new timepieces into the collection. The Galet Annual Calendar in its production form, was debuted in 2018 to the great pleasure of the watch community. The piece was immediately celebrated for its simple, yet sophisticated appearance. The Galet Annual Calendar was the foundation of a variety of limited editions including the Geneva Edition, the Navy, and the piece we are discussing today, the Montre École “Vintage”.
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Montre École Annual Calendar is a refreshing take on the Annual Calendar mechanism. Sophisticated in dial construction, yet unimposing and non pretentious, Laurent Ferrier’s exceptional complication will fly under the radar to those that are unknowing, but will be treasured by enthusiasts who appreciate the incredible work of craftsmanship that was involved in this piece’s conception.
Every surface of the Galet Annual Calendar has been eased and rounded to form a piece that is warm in the hand, without hard edges or strong lines. The entirety of this piece’s aesthetic communicates softness of appearance and refinement of finish. The “vintage” variant of the Galet Montre École Annual Calendar makes use of a khaki colored dial and matching strap, with a white pointer date and gray lettering. This piece doesn’t demand attention, instead, it saves the surprises for those that care to take a closer look. As with all Laurent Ferrier pieces, the charm lies in the details of the execution, which all communicate the particular emphasis on design and refinement.
The date windows, for example, are constructed by subtly beveling the dial surface to lead into the date display subtly. The subsidiary seconds are set into the dial and then snailed for additional dial texture and three dimensionality. Yet another detail particularly praised by enthusiasts is the rounded crown flanking the case. Laurent Ferrier increased the diameter of the crown and added jimping to improve tactile feedback when winding and better complement the case shape. The Galet Annual Calendar features a broad bezel and muted dial tones, and incorporates a large amount of information into an uncluttered dial. The javelin-shaped hands are fashioned from solid white gold and are coated for subtle appearance. This is the foundational vision of the brand— white gold on the inside but muted for aesthetics. Everything is fashioned from the highest quality materials and exemplifies the highest degree of attention to detail, yet this prominence is discovered only to the discerning observer.
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar Montre École is equipped with the caliber LF126.01. The LF126.01 is quintessentially Laurent Ferrier, with vertical Côtes de Genèvee and anglage. A unique feature of the Laurent Ferrier approach to Côtes de Genève becomes apparent when analyzing the surface of the bridges. The finish is a gradient that goes from dark to light, indicating the utilization of an abrasive disc to apply the striping by hand. This technique was always used in the past, but has recently been replaced in most factories in favor of a CNC-based process. Seeing this detail highlights the human element involved in the movement finishing. In unique fashion, this particular movement features an 80 hour power reserve indicator on the case back, leaving the dial uncluttered but still supplying the practical utility the indicator affords.
The LF126.01 is a manually wound caliber, and to stabilize the movement componentry, Laurent Ferrier has adopted a bridge system that covers the majority of the components but leaves the escapement and other aesthetic portions of the movement visible to the eye. The free sprung balance adds to resilience that is a virtue of everyday timepieces, with the oscillation frequency less interrupted by shocks and sudden movements.
Laurent Ferrier has black polished the set screws and placed mirror anglage on the bevels of the bridges to enhance the appearance of the movement and accentuate the boutique quality of the finishing. As the name suggests, the Galet Annual Calendar Montre École is an annual calendar, needing adjustment only at the end of February each year. This practicality strikes the ideal balance between convenience and sophistication of the mechanism. The fusion of these elements further substantiates the claim that the Galet Annual Calendar would make for an ideal everyday timepiece. The robust movement construction with stabilizing broad bridges and free sprung balance, reinforced by the utility of the Annual Calendar complication, generates a compelling offering at a fantastic value.
Versus the Competition
The Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar Montre École “Vintage” Edition is a difficult piece to rival. As has been outlined above, the elegant timepiece is a very unique amalgamation of separate attractive attributes. On the affordable end, the first piece that comes to mind as an alternative would be the Nomos Club. Although Nomos and Laurent Ferrier are very different, both brands share in their minimalist, Bauhaus inspired aesthetics. Additionally, the Nomos Club features the same broader sloping bezel and manually wound functionality afforded by the Laurent Ferrier. The final similarity of note between the brands is the mutual use of color. Neither brand shies away from utilizing bright, cheerful color combinations. These watches don’t take themselves too seriously; they are sophisticated but not ostentatious or gaudy. There’s something incredibly appealing about this quality.
For a slightly different approach to the Laurent Ferrier ethos, I would consider the Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro Rotor timepieces. The micro rotor is preferred by some who value the convenience of an automatic watch, while others favor the labor of love associated with winding a timepiece each morning — this differentiation is largely left to personal preference.
A final interesting Laurent Ferrier offering is the Galet Boreal, which we covered extensively here. The Boreal flaunts different aesthetics, but shares the same core identity and overarching design language.
The collector most likely to gravitate towards this piece will be an admirer of fine craftsmanship who doesn’t feel the need to show off or project their wealth to others. As highlighted above, the Galet Annual Calendar is impressive, yet unassuming to the untrained eye. Unlike a full yellow gold Rolex, most on the street will not recognize the piece from a mile away. This anonymity will be a virtue to some and a detriment to others. One of the biggest selling points on a piece like this is the opportunity to purchase one of just a few pieces made by this manufacturer. Most micro brands do not penetrate the broader watch community the way Laurent Ferrier has. This increased popularity within collecting circles underscores the brand’s devotion to forging a unique identity, and makes a compelling case for why a customer would actually want a Laurent Ferrier. Brands like Laurent Ferrier are difficult to rival because they do what they do better than everyone else. If a customer enjoys and appreciates the stealth quality, and stealth wealth communicated by this design, Laurent Ferrier will be a safe-house from attention demanding, loud timepieces. Simply put, Laurent Ferrier is the guy at work who is respected unquestionably by all, and therefore feels no need to sing his own praises, sell his virtues, or call excessive attention to his achievements — everyone just knows.
The Galet Annual Calendar is not a watch for everyone. That said, a brand that produces under 200 pieces a year isn’t trying to make a watch for everyone. Instead, they are crafting a unique product that appeals to a devoted collector base. This piece is undoubtedly wearable in an everyday setting. From complication, to movement, to aesthetics, this watch would be equally at home under a dress cuff as strolling a boardwalk.