In the summer of June 1979, a green coloured Porsche 935 Turbo marked N°40, was on a rolling start at the 24 hours of Le Mans race. Engine hot and rumbling, (as the safety car got out of the way) the 3rd participant from the Porsche Kremer team sets off on a 24-hour endurance test of man and machine. On the door, signed; Ferrier, Servanin and Trisconi.
The passion for sports racing and haute horology set Laurent Ferrier and Servanin on a common destiny beyond the race tracks. In 2019, Servanin invested in Ferrier’s roots and experience in watchmaking, and the eponymous independent maison, Laurent Ferrier was born.
Laurent Ferrier, Servanin and Trisconi’s No.40 would come in at 3rd position, just a little behind Paul Newman and ahead of 57 other cars consisting of both professional and amateur teams in the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans.
At Geneva Watch Days 2023, Laurent Ferrier presented the Sport Auto 40, a new edition of the “Série Atelier ” collection paying homage to the brand’s historical relationship with motor racing and more specifically, the viridian green Porsche 935 Turbo that both founders of the brand co-droved at the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1979.
Inheriting the aesthetic codes of Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto collection, most notably the soft-barrel case design, the small onion crown and the air intake-like recess into the date aperture, unique to this model is the viridian green gradient dial in opaline finishing, combined with the orange Super-LumiNova on the white gold indexes and hands, and the emblematic cross-hair in purple, recreating the powdery, period-accurate paint job of the 1979 Kremer Porsche 935 T N°40. No. 40 appears subtly on the white opaline subsidiary dial, slightly embossed in white.
Other consistent features with the Sport Auto collection includes the 41.5mm grade 5 titanium case is satin-finished in general, and polished at the edges to further elaborate on Laurent Ferrier’s streamlined silhouette and the grade 5 titanium bracelet which is also satin-finished, is light and soft to the skin and wears comfortably on the wrist even on a sweltering day out on the race tracks in June. The choice of satin over brushed finishing on most of the titanium parts are most probably indications of what 1970s sports car finishing looks like – muted.
Under the hood, the micro-rotor powered Caliber LF270.01 drives the Sport Auto 40 at 28,800 VPH for 72 hours. Access the engine through the back for a rear-wheel drive sports car and just like any other Laurent Ferrier timepiece, the level of attention to aesthetics is as extensive as the dial side. The movement alone sae more than 139 hand-finished operations. The almost three-quarter bridge on the Cal. LF270.01 is satin-finished and ruthenium-treated, creating a grey overall that combines with gold and rubies to project a highly modernistic appeal. The anglage on every bridge is manually finished, including the unique bridge setting the micro-rotor in place, which is finished with gentian wood or diamantine. On the 950 platinum micro-rotor, one will find intricate hand-decorated lines of achievements set by N°40 in the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans race, from the drivers’ names, date, miles achieved, recorded timings etc.
It is indeed a memorable and unforgettable race that deserves to be recorded in any way possible.
The Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto 40 is essentially the Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto introduced a year earlier, with stylings of the very car Laurent Ferrier and François Servanin raced in and thereby, a direct tribute to the founders of the brand. For any fans or existing collector of Laurent Ferrier watches, the Sport Auto 40 is clearly a must-have collectible. While not all may share a common passion for sports racing, porsches or the number 40, the limited production Sport Auto 40 does present a uniqueness that cannot be replicated on any other brand and models; the green opaline dial.
Honouring the spirit of the 1979 24 Hours of Le Man race is also what this limited edition watch does and somehow, it got to me, not because I am a fan of autosports racing, but because of the spirit of competition behind the story. An amateur team was able to come in 3rd position, beating the odds against a pool of professional drivers and their team. It is a race of merit with equal opportunity for all and the honour is anyone willing to put in the extra effort, and perhaps, with the help of a little talent.
If the gradient viridian green dial appeals to you, or if my sentiments on this watch somehow resonates, you might want to quickly check put your name to the list as only 40 pieces of this watch will ever be produced.
Model Number: Série Atelier Sport Auto 40
Collection: Série Atelier
Water Resistance: 120m
Case Shape: Barrel
Case Length (mm): 41.5mm
Thickness (mm): 2.70 mm
Case Material: Grade 5 Titanium
Crystal: Domed sapphire crystals
Caseback: Screwed-down Sapphire case back
Dial: Gradient viridian green opaline dial with green and anthracite transfers Matte white opaline small seconds at 6 o’clock with semi-glossy opaline “40”
Indexes: 18K/750 white gold 210Pd with orange Super-LumiNova