Before he made his name as a master craftsman at Patek Philippe (where he served as creative director from 1995 to 2009), the independent Swiss watchmaker Laurent Ferrier was a young student at the Watchmaking School of Geneva. And like all watchmaking students, he was tasked with creating a “school piece”—a timepiece created by each student to showcase their newfound skills. At last month’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) watch fair in Geneva, the venerated watchmaker presented the Galet Annual Calendar School Piece, which shares the same case shape as the timepiece he finished upon graduation in 1968.
“Mine was a pocket watch,” Ferrier says, “and I found it interesting to work on it so that I could turn it into a wristwatch.”
Like most annual calendars, Ferrier’s fifth caliber to emerge from his Geneva workshop requires a manual adjustment once a year, on March 1, to account for February 28th (or 29th in a leap year), but the highlight of his new caliber is functionality and legibility. “Most of the collectors told me how they loved their annual calendar piece but when it comes to adjustment, it is such a nightmare that they don’t want to bother,” Ferrier says. “That’s why I decided to work on a very simple adjustment on a push button for the days and by simply turning the crown to adjust the date and month, not only forward but also backward.”
The manual-wind timepiece, equipped with an 80-hour power reserve, boasts a handsome and readable aesthetic, as is typical of Laurent Ferrier’s classic style. A central hand-painted red hand indicates the date, while the day of the week and the month appear in two beveled apertures.
“As far as the design is concerned I was, of course, inspired by tradition,” Ferrier says. “I particularly like the date hand with the numerals all around the dial, so that was the starting point.”
Available starting this month, the annual calendar retails for $58,000 in stainless steel, and $63,000 in “desert sand” gold, a paler version of yellow gold, and 18-karat red gold.