Laurent Ferrier makes some of the most elegant and distinct dress watches on the market, and while a steel sports watch is not what we’re used to seeing from the brand, the segment has become essentially impossible to ignore. This Tourbillon Grand Sport reference LCF041 is Laurent Ferrier’s first foray into the steel sports watch arena. It’s an impressive timepiece that masterfully combines Laurent Ferrier’s trademark design language while acknowledging the history of the category.
The Tourbillon Grand Sport commemorates multiple key moments for Laurent Ferrier, the man, and the brand. Officially it marks the 40th anniversary of Laurent Ferrier teaming up with brand co-founder François Servanin to race in the 24-hour Le Man, where they placed 3rd overall. Pretty impressive for a couple of watchmakers, ay? It also happens to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Laurent Ferrier brand and the conception of the brand’s now famous tourbillon. With this confluence of milestones, Ferrier decided to release this, their first sports watch, in 2019. However, the inspiration for this timepiece goes back a bit further.
Before Laurent Ferrier started his own brand, he worked for Patek Philippe for 37 years. He contributed to some of their most iconic timepieces, including the king of all steel sports watches, the Nautilus. Ferrier’s past experience has obviously been a big inspiration on this watch, but it’s not just another “me too” piece. This original design also has a strong visual connection to Ferrier’s Galet Square Boreal, which was previously the brand’s most “sporty” watch. The Galet Square Boreal is a versatile daily wearer that serves as a natural bridge from Ferrier’s more formal timepieces to this go-anywhere do anything sports watch.
This Tourbillon Grand Sport on a rubber strap is very rare and was produced in a batch of just twelve pieces. Though there was another variant produced last year, that Tourbillon Grand Sport on a bracelet was also limited to just twelve examples. The Tourbillon Grand Sport is slowly but surely growing into a line of sports watches from Laurent Ferrier, albeit in extremely small numbers. Hopefully, the next iteration breaks the trend.
With this timepiece, Ferrier illustrates the important difference between copying something and being inspired by it. As I mentioned above, there are some obvious connections between this watch and the Patek Philippe Nautilus as well as Laurent Ferrier’s Galet Square Boreal, but it still manages to be its own watch. There’s also a giant leap at play on account of case size. At 44mm across, the Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport is closer in size to a Royal Oak Offshore or a Hublot Big Bang than it is to the Nautilus or Royal Oak.
Proportions aside, the stainless steel case of the Grand Sport has a unique shape that doesn’t really fit the traditional watch vocabulary. The bezel is cushion-shaped, while the middle case is barrel-shaped, both with flowing organic lines. The curvy case and famed onion crown instantly give away the fact that this is a Laurent Ferrier piece. There are very few hard straight edges on the watch, and this organic aesthetic is applied across the board, including the hands and elongated teardrop indexes.
From the profile view, you can see the sandwich-style construction and the contrasting finishes. Ferrier is conservative in his use of polish here, using it for the case flanks and bevels of the bezel. The rest of the watch has a nice brushed finishing that gives the watch a sporty, almost rugged look, and it also darkens the metal, which plays nicely with the other color choices. The smoke taupe-colored dial, SuperLumiNova filled deep orange hands and indexes, as well as the faded grayish-brown rubber strap, give the watch a unique smokey aesthetic. Even the sapphire crystal has been tinted to add to the theme. It’s an excellent look that makes the watch appear as if it survived a forest fire.
Looking at the Tourbillon Grand Sport, it’s not immediately apparent that the watch is, well, a tourbillon. While many tourbillon movements are visible from both the dial side and case back, Ferrier has chosen not to interrupt the design and keeps the dial simple. However, the in-house caliber LF 619.01 is visible through the display caseback and is superbly finished, as one would expect. The horizontally brushed plates and bridges are affixed with polished screws and have had a special dark ruthenium treatment. This gives the caliber and ominous vibe, which continues the smokey design theme. It’s manually wound and has a double balance spring, as well as a double-spiral tourbillon, both of which help to contribute to the watch’s excellent efficiency and 80-hour power reserve. Additionally, the caliber LF 619.01 has been chronometer-certified at the Besançon Observatory in France. A nod to Ferrier’s French heritage.
Versus the Competition
While I’ve already mentioned that this watch shares some traits with the Patek Philippe Nautilus, I think the Nautilus is too mainstream to be a real competitor. Also, this specific Tourbillon Grand Sport doesn’t come on an integrated steel bracelet but rather a rubber strap. That’s why I think this Aquanaut is a better alternative. It’s not quite as popular as its older brother but still shares a lot of the same DNA and is a truly luxurious and well-built sports watch. This reference 5168G is made of 18k white gold, and because of this it flies a bit under the radar—much like the Tourbillon Grand Sport. Its blue strap and matching gradient blue dial give the watch a cohesive look, and its unique cushion-shaped case is instantly recognizable from across a room. While this isn’t a limited edition like the Tourbillon Grand Sport, it is still extremely hard to get. If you like the Tourbillon Grand Sport’s overall vibe but aren’t quite sure about body surfing with a 1 of 12 limited edition, this is the watch for you.
However, if the scarceness and artisanal spirit are what most attracted you to the Tourbillon Grand Sport, this H. Moser & Cie Streamliner Flyback Chronograph could be a good option to cross-shop. The Streamliner is Moser’s take on the steel sports watch and is a limited edition of 100 pieces. Like the Tourbillon Grand Sport, it has a smokey dial and cushion adjacent shaped case. However, unlike the Ferrier, this is a complicated watch. Inside, the Streamliner beats the beautifully finished caliber HMC 902 flyback chronograph. The Streamliner also comes on a very distinct—almost snake-like—integrated steel bracelet. I give the Ferrier a leg up in terms of craftsmanship and rarity, but If your a chronograph fan and prefer a watch on a bracelet, I think this Moser is the way to go.
This is a serious watch nerd’s sports watch. To me, this seems like the kind of watch a guy like John Goldberger would wear to the pool. Someone whose collection has matured to the point that they’re not interested in the usual suspects, and they’re definitely not looking to pay a mark up on a regular production watch. This is for the collector who exclusively wants truly artisanal timepieces made by masters of their craft. This Tourbillon Grand Sport is exactly that.
While it’s out of my price range with an MSRP of $185,000 dollars, I love that Laurent Ferrier put this out into the market. I think watches like this can make people question why they’re paying such a high premium for a regular production watch. This Tourbillon Grand Sport challenges the entrenched icons and shows you the level of quality you should demand for your money.