When a company is as seemingly well-known as Laurent Ferrier, it can be surprising to realize that they are only producing a few hundred watches per year. Within their range of offerings, there are a number of production models, as well as some very limited-edition designs that have occurred since Laurent Ferrier started in 2009. One such of these limited editions would be the Laurent Ferrier Galet Traveler Enamel U.S. Limited Edition.
In 2013, the world was introduced to the Laurent Ferrier Classic Traveller. Taking his eye for watch design to the problem of how to display multiple time zones, Ferrier created something that is understated perfection. Along with their now-iconic spear handset, the watch shows how simplicity – at least on the dial side – can get things done. In 2014, the first limited edition version was released, known as the Laurent Ferrier Galet Traveler Enamel U.S Limited Edition. Where this design set itself apart was the enamel cloisonné dial with the map of North America featured prominently. While that first edition was just eight pieces, a subsequent edition in 2017 had 10 pieces with a slightly different map.
The visually striking part of the Laurent Ferrier Galet Traveler Enamel U.S Limited Edition is of course that dial; with this edition, the map reaches across all of the dial. There’s a luster and hue that the enamels provide that we are just not accustomed to seeing on a watch dial, particularly with these topographical colorations. A closer look reveals that the watch is more than just a pretty face.
For instance, why are the two windows on either side of the dial not symmetrical? That was done on purpose, so you would not mix up which one was the date (at 3 o’clock) and which displays the home time (9 o’clock). This is set into a white gold case with a lot of rounded edges and surfaces, giving the Galet (which means ‘pebble’) its name. At the side of that case, you’ve got a classic rounded crown, with the other side housing the pushers that move the local time forward or back. Just as the dial is intuitive, the inputs used to direct the movement are intuitive as well. Then you flip the watch over, and you’re treated to a different sort of art show.
Inside the Laurent Ferrier Galet Traveler Enamel U.S Limited Edition is the Caliber LF 230.01, quite obviously a micro-rotor movement. Why a micro-rotor? Simply put, it allows the modern ease of use of an automatic, without a large rotor that obscures the view of what has been done with the movement. To be sure, we do have larger plates here, but the details that are uncovered are quite lovely.
To start with, you’ve got the almost woven, fish scale-like pattern on the micro-rotor. The main plate that everything is mounted to has additional circular finishing, and the plates mounted over everything have vertical Geneva stripes applied. The finishing, however, is just part of the story.
For that 22k micro-rotor, it has two jewels used – one on each side – to hold it in place, and keep it spinning smoothly. We also need to realize that, with this movement, it was not simply a matter of putting a module in on a base movement to enable the dual time. Here, the components were all truly integrated, keeping things a touch more compact, while showing a commitment to design that Laurent Ferrier is known for.
The other really intriguing part of this movement is simply labeled as a “double-direct impulse natural escapement”. This is based on a concept by none other than Abraham-Louis Breguet, realized with modern materials. Energy is applied to the balance from both sides, transmitting as much energy as possible. Component-wise, this brings a silicon level and a nickel-phosphorous wheel. Perhaps the most interesting part of this slice of the movement is the fact that it requires no lubrication at all, even with the energy being moved through it.
Versus The Competition
If you’re looking for a traveler’s watch with a colorful depiction of the world on it, there are a number of choices. When it comes to watches where that map does not hinder legibility, then the range narrows considerably. The Laurent Ferrier would certainly fit that bill, as would the F.P. Journe Octa UTC Rose Gold. As with the LF, the Octa is building a number of complications into the movement, rather than stacking on modules. The colorful world map, between 7 and 8 o’clock, is for indicating UTC time, with the 24 time zones radiating out from the center. Then, for the second time zone, that’s done via a second hand (and hour scale) on the main time display. For all of the other fun things this watch has, well, you’ll want to check out that article.
One other alternative we might suggest would be the A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar “Terraluna”. Here, again, we have a technical marvel in terms of what teh watch is providing. What is not immediately discernible is how the watch gives you a second time zone. For that, you’ll need to turn the watch over, where you have the earth going through it’s 24-hour rotation. Perhaps not as truly useful as a travel watch, it does still give us the colorful interpretation of celestial movements throughout the day.
Finally, if you just want simplicity and ease of use, and not colorful, artful world maps, then perhaps something more like a standard GMT would fit the bill. Then again, the Rolex Sky Dweller eschews the ubiquitous GMT hand and instead relies on the central ring to indicate the second time zone. Pairing this with the classic looks of a Datejust – fluted bezel and all – means it really is a watch ready for business travel.
To us, the person looking to own a Laurent Ferrier Galet Traveler Enamel U.S Limited Edition is someone who appreciates an initial boldness that camouflages a simplicity in execution that then belies the absolute technical complexity under it all. Not so much the “riddle wrapped in an enigma”, but the sort of person who, when you get to know them, realizes that yes, there is a depth to this person. It’s not just one facet all the way through, but someone who can be bold when needed, practical through it all, and gets done what needs doing in innovative ways.
For as young a brand is as Laurent Ferrier is, they have managed to create some absolutely stunning examples of watchmaking. That their dual-time design came just four years after the brand started up, and that we’re still enamored of it a decade later, speaks volumes. Watches often work to combine engineering and artistry, and usually one suffers at the expense of the other. With the Laurent Ferrier Galet Traveler Enamel U.S Limited Edition, however, we see that they can work together in harmony, making for a watch that has you wanting to spread your wings.