This exceptional horology masterpiece is a result of a successful alliance between two great companies who share same identical values and know how in centuries old art crafts tradition.
Prestigious Saxon porcelain manufacturer Meissen and Laurent Ferrier have chosen to unite their talents in creating exceptional watch products. The two companies sensed an immediate mutual attraction based on their love of artistic craftsmanship. Meissen discovered in Laurent Ferrier impressive expertise in the field of traditional watchmaking, as well as a genuine commitment to innovation; while Laurent Ferrier was won over by the German manufacturer’s 300 plus years of history along with its traditional techniques that have been perpetuated, mastered and remained virtually unchanged over the centuries. This collaboration is now expressed through the development of two watches – unique editions of the Galet Secret – featuring a porcelain dial by Meissen and enriched with a double balance-spring tourbillon movement by Laurent Ferrier.
The illustration on the two dials is inspired by traditional Chinese zodiac signs. Set against an opaline white background, touches of cobalt blue give a fascinating face to a fantastical reptile. The fire-breathing Dragon, a symbolic manifestation of imperial power, embodies strength and valour. The legendary creature endowed with magical powers is depicted here in the form of a huge lizard with a lion’s head. Its long scaly tail is topped by a flamboyant crest. Its paws show predator’s claws of which the number determines its strength. Meanwhile, the Snake appreciates mystery. It is a seductive and elegant creature that loves beautiful things, nocturnal atmospheres and a muted ambience. It is depicted undulating across a flowerbed with its piercing gaze and forked tongue.
The Galet Secret line has always been exclusively composed of unique creations imbued with strong symbolic value and highlighting age-old artistic crafts. This apparently classical wristwatch conceals a highly ingenious technical device: a high-precision micro-mechanism pivots the opaque sapphire crystals to reveal a 240° view of the hand-made dial, crafted in this case by Meissen.
For Meissen, the process involved in producing watch dials is extremely complex and represents a true technical challenge. The discs are fashioned by hand from a kaolin-based substance. While the exact composition of this substance is a jealously guarded secret, the quality of ingredients is essential in preparing the raw material. Once modelled and fired at 1400°C, the immaculate white porcelain is coated with a layer of transparent enamel that gives it a beautiful gloss. The porcelain discs must be perfectly profiled to ensure a perfect fit inside the watch case.
Tolerance issues (such as thickness, flatness, the circular rim) forced the watchmaker and the porcelain specialist to rethink their usual working procedures. The razor-thin discs are extremely fragile and must be handled with the greatest of care.
The decoration is performed using ceramic colours (metallic oxides). For these two dials adorned in blue against a white background, the painting artisan has drawn inspiration from the Ming tradition of China. This involved cobalt powder fashioned using a feather and a fine brush. The pigments were then fused to the porcelain by being fired at a combustion temperature of 900°C. A true artistic craft, this work calls for meticulous dexterity and patience. Only a limited number of dials can be produced this year, even though these authentic miniature works of art offer a superb alternative to the more conventional enamelled dials used in the field of Haute Horlogerie.
Founded in 1710, Meissen was the first European porcelain manufacturer. In the early 18th century, Europe was still importing porcelain from China. The Prince-Elector of Saxony, Augustus II the Strong, was an avid collector of porcelain and did his utmost to discover the secrets of its production. In 1707, the first formula was finally developed by Friedrich Böttger, a brilliant alchemist who created an extremely hard yet delicate white porcelain similar to the much sought-after type that was imported at the time. It was immediately patented and to protect this secret, production was housed within Albrechtsburg Castle in Meissen, featuring an impressive fortress-type construction.
The manufacturer has been in operation ever since. Its symbol depicting two crossed swords – as found on the dials of these new watches – is the oldest maker’s mark to have been used continuously throughout the company history. To this day, the tableware, trinkets and jewellery hand-crafted by the in-house artisans continue to bear this same emblem.
After the decoration, a closer look at the technical operation. The Galet Secret is equipped with the famous double balance-spring tourbillon designed, developed, finished and assembled in the Laurent Ferrier workshops. The double balance-spring, serving as a complement to the tourbillon mechanism that compensates for the effects of gravity, ensures extreme rating accuracy.
An ingenious device serves to open and close the dial by a fan-like rotation of two opaque sapphire crystals. The window opens on demand: by pressing a push-button placed on the crown, the two opaque sapphire crystals instantly pivot to reveal all the beauty of the porcelain reptile. The window may also open on demand: the mechanism is activated daily at a predefined time that is chosen by the owner and set by the watchmaker during movement assembly. Like a sunrise or sunset, it takes a full hour for the dial to be entirely unveiled or concealed. While the concept behind this beautiful model is inspired by the finest 19th century pieces, its modern and efficient construction ensures a robustness and precision worthy of the greatest chronometers.
The movement finishing is equally meticulous. The mainplate and bridges are decorated, the screws are polished, the calibre features no less than 30 hand-crafted interior angles – a finish performed in keeping with the finest watchmaking traditions. The finesse of this work is revealed exclusively through the sapphire crystal case-back, confirming a deliberately subtle and discreet attitude.
This transparent case-back also reveals the tourbillon mechanism, which thus remains protected from daylight and placed in a position ensuring its ideal operation. The movement is hand-wound and guarantees an over 80-hour power reserve, corresponding to over three days.
Finally, the solid white gold case echoes the “pebble” (galet in French) shape of the large, refined and understated models of 19th century watchmaking, notably the pocket watches. Witness the ball-shaped crown as well as the disappearance of the winding-stem pull-out piece spring, replaced by a lever. This aesthetic feature has become a trademark feature on all watches bearing the Laurent Ferrier signature. These two watches offer another two fine examples of a flair for details designed to stand the test of time.
Model: Galet Secret Double Balance-Spring Tourbillon – Unique Meissen Edition
210Pd 18K/750 non rhodium-plated white gold
Total diameter: Ø 42.00 mm
Thickness: 15.20 mm
Water resistance: 30 m
210 Pd 18K/750 white gold crown
Glareproofed sapphire crystal
Dial and hands
Dials: two unique pieces in porcelain adorned with Dragon or Snake Chinese zodiac signs and bearing Meissen’s historical crossed-swords emblem – all hand-painted in blue against a white background.
Display mechanism: 240° dial opening and closing (between 8 and 4 o’clock) according to a double-rotation process (patent pending) that may be activated in two different ways:
-“on demand”, instantly, simply by pressing the push-button placed on the crown.
-“in passing”, at the exact moment chosen by the owner and pre-adjusted by the watchmaker when assembling the movement. In this case, it takes 60 minutes to open. The same goes for the closing.
18K gold “assegai-shaped” hour and minute hands
Functions and displays: central hours and minutes
Roman numerals painted on the sapphire crystal
Strap and buckle
Alligator leather strap with Alcantara lining
18K/750 white gold folding clasp or pin buckle
Calibre reference: FBN 916.02
Mechanical hand-wound movement
Diameter: 31.60 mm (14’’’)
Thickness: 7.02 mm
Number of parts: 236
Number of jewels: 24
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 80 hours
Bridges adorned with “Côtes de Genève”
Tourbillon, two head-to-tail mounted balance springs
Double Geneva-type studs
Swiss lever escapement
Variable-geometry balance wheel with screws
Peripheral tourbillon carriage driving mechanism