Opinion: Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grande Sport
I have no idea how this watch did not come on my radar back in May when it was released. So, it came as a surprise to see this watch on the WatchProSite forum. My immediate reaction was that this was some type of a fan-made design hoax. But to my surprise, this was the real deal!
This watch prompts mixed feelings for me. As with any Laurent Ferrier, it is supremely finished with their in-house movements designed in partnership with Fabrique du Temps (now owned by Louis Vuitton). Moreover, you cannot argue with the amazing quality of this watch all around. You get that assurance of uncompromising quality from a brand like Laurent Ferrrier. Now, the devil here isn’t in the details; it’s in the design. Unlike virtually all other Laurent Ferriers, the design is a disappointed. I agree with one comment on the HODINKEE article covering this timepiece, saying that the case and bezel geometry seemed incomplete and incohesive. In the HODINKEE article by Stephen Pulvirent, which is extremely well written, I agree with his notion that it is acceptable for the Tourbillon Grande Sport to echo the style of the Patek Philippe Nautilus due to Laurent Ferrier’s extensive tenure as a Patek employee. Naturally, one could gravitate toward that style when looking to design a sports watch. To the watch’s credit, it is Laurent Ferrier’s first true venture into the sports watch arena, and can always be tweaked in the future.
I am surprised that no one has pointed out an even more stark similarity to another watch; the Victorianox INOX. They are certainly far from similar, but the design feels the same. Under scrutiny, they are different. But from afar, these differences can't be seen. One redeeming element of the Grande Sport is the dial. It is utterly gorgeous. Some people pointed out what they called faux patina on the dial. I must disagree and point out that patina does not turn orange. Rolex colors their lume a similar color on the Milgauss, especially with the white-dial version. Judging lume color boils down to intent, in my opinion. If the intent is to replicate the patina of the vintage watch, it better be extremely subtle or I find it grotesque. However, some lume is colored to supplement the color of the dial. I think cream-colored lume looks wonderful on a black dial. I also believe that highly pigmented lume is acceptable if it fits the overall design. Just look at the Milgauss or the basic Oyster Perpetual and you’ll see what I mean. I give no fault to Laurent Ferrier for this choice. It magnificently complements the rest of the dial. The Ferrier’s dial also features a fumé-like fade. It is a wonderful addition and something which can be enjoyed by the owner upon looking closer. Luckily, it shouldn’t be too loud when viewed from a distance.
Overall, the case design is a deal-breaker for me; and that seems to be the general opinion online. On the other hand, I am anxiously awaiting some tweaking in the future. The watch has potential, that’s for sure. But as for right now, I think you’d be better off buying just about any other Laurent Ferrier.