For most watch brands, having an integrated sports watch in the catalogue is simply about meeting market demand and ticking a product category box. For Laurent Ferrier and his team, there’s a little more to the story of their latest timepiece, the Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto.
Before Laurent Ferrier was an independent watchmaker, he and his co-founder François Servanin raced in the coveted 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The year was 1979, and in what must be the only time where 2nd and 3rd place are remembered before the team that actually won the race, Laurent Ferrier and his team finished in third, behind another horological legend in Paul Newman.
Laurent and François began the race in 20th on the starting grid at the Sarthe circuit, Le Mans, before racing their Porsche 935 through a gruelling 292 laps, covering 3,988.254 kilometres and required a total of 24 pit stops. At the time Laurent was working at Patek Philippe, but it was François who said after the race, “What if after this feat, we continued the adventure as a team by making our own watch?!”
Thirty years later, that dream became a reality as the independent watchmaking workshop of Laurent Ferrier was established, which has since built a reputation as one of the finest watchmakers in the world. In 2022, however, both Laurent and François remember Le Mans as it serves as inspiration for the Sport Auto.
Both the case and bracelet are made from lightweight Grade 5 titanium, with the softly curved cushion case measuring 41.5mm in diameter. Featuring a sapphire crystal caseback and bold onion crown, the watch guarantees water resistance to 120m.
In classic Laurent Ferrier style, the round sector dial features a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, with a clean date window that reminds somewhat of an automotive air intake. The lance tip hands and comet-shaped hour markers are all filled with luminous material, just like a sports watch should have, while the graduated blue tone of the dial is less conservative than many of Laurent Ferrier’s other watches.
As you might expect from a workshop with the reputation of Laurent Ferrier, the real star of the show is the movement beneath the dial, which is the new LF 270.01 calibre. Featuring a microrotor to wind the movement, the LF 270.01 boasts 72 hours of power reserves and was completed with no less than 139 manual finishing operations.
So if you’re after a go-anywhere, do-anything sports watch with a real independent watchmaker on the dial, the Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto is a very compelling new timepiece. Likewise, if you’re after a watch with a link to the Le Mans of 1979, without spending over $25 million on Newman’s Rolex Daytona, the Auto Sport presents an affordable alternative with an RRP of CHF 46,000 (AU$70,350).