LAURENT FERRIER ÉCOLE ANNUAL CALENDAR OPALINE BLUE
A GPHG award-winning wristwatch which features one of watchmaking’s most elegant and practical complications, the École Annual Calendar Opaline Blue by Laurent Ferrier is a beautiful triple date timepiece, housed within a classic ellipsoidal shaped case and equipped with a superb, fully in-house manufactured manual winding haute horlogerie movement.
Originally inspired by the pleasing tactile sensation of holding a water-smoothed riverbed pebble in the palm of his hand, the case was first known as Galet, the French word for pebble, and for Laurent Ferrier, whose career had already included being responsible for transcribing Gérald Genta’s two dimensional drawings into the three dimensional reality which would become immortalised in the shape of the iconic Patek Philippe Nautilus, the muse for his eponymous brand was resting quite literally in the palm of his hand.
Influenced by the case of his own graduation Montre École pocket watch of 1968, the École Annual Calendar is a design variation on the pebble-smooth “galet” hallmark of his company’s Classic collections. Being even more rounded than its predecessors, it is evocative of the classic Disco Volante styling of the 1950s, with its uninterrupted flow of curves extending even to the subtle convex sapphire crystal caseback, while the soldered lugs, which are unique to the École series, are slender and roll off to rounded ends.
Beneath the sapphire glass, the deep blue dial has a vertical satin brushed finish, and is perfectly balanced, with the beautiful in-house Assegei spear style hour and minute hands in white gold, applied tapering indices at the twelve, three and nine, and the small seconds subdial at the six o’clock position. The cross hair accentuates a vintage feel, and like the hour markings and brand lettering is set in powdered silver.
Requiring adjustment only once a year, at the end of February, the annual calendar is displayed with a red pointer for the date, which is marked in a ring around the edge of the dial, and with a pair of bevel-edged windows in the upper half of the dial for the day and month.
The calendar mechanism has been refined to eliminate some of the imperfect idiosyncrasies which are common to the complication in other manufacturers. For example, the date can be moved forward or backwards, via the crown, which also facilitates the month setting as well. The day is adjusted via the finger operated pusher set into the case at the ten o’clock position, and so each element of the calendar is quickly and easily reset.
On the underside of the watch, the gently domed sapphire crystal exhibition caseback reveals the meticulous haute horlogerie finishing of the superb in-house Calibre LF 126.01 manual-winding movement. The plates are decorated with Côtes de Genève stripes and treated with black rhodium plating, while the mirror polished angles are painstakingly finished by hand, and curve inwards, outwards and around the edges, exposing the beating heart of the free sprung balance and escapement, and offering a glimpse of the gear wheels, and the long blade ratchet system which is visible in the cutaway above the barrel.
Beating at 21’600 vib/h, the movement derives an impressive eighty hours from its single barrel, and a power reserve indicator on the underside shows when the watch will require winding.
With its immaculate contours and smooth ergonomic form, the Laurent Ferrier École Annual Calendar encapsulates the ethereal beauty of the classic elegance of 1950s watch design, while concealing within a superb in-house mechanical work of art, and has a discreet yet alluring presence on the wrist. It is presented on a dark blue alligator leather strap with soft alcantara lining and pin buckle.