Laurent Ferrier Revisits Le Mans 1979 With New Sport Auto

The 47th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979 was interesting for a few reasons, among them being: the Porsche 935 taking 1,2,3; Paul Newman, with co-drivers Rolf Stommelen and Dick Barbour finishing second; Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason and three co-drivers driving a Lola T297 to an 18th place finish; and finally, future watchmaker, Laurent Ferrier, along with fellow Frenchmen François Servanin and François Trisconi, finishing third. Newman and company, racing for Dick Barbour Racing, would have finished in first had it not been for a stubborn wheel nut late in the race, but that honor would eventually go to one of Porsche’s Kramer Racing teams in the 41 car piloted by Klaus Ludwig, and the Whittington’s Don and Bill. 

Laurent would go on to work at Patek Philippe for the next 30 years before founding his own brand in 2009, with the very same François Servanin he raced with at Le Mans. It was this podium finish in 179, however, that has inspired their latest creation, the Sport Auto. As dry as the name may be, this is a new integrated titanium sports watch done in the now well established Laurent Ferrier ‘square in a circle’ style.

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“At the start of 2022, I am proud to unveil a tribute piece to the extraordinary adventure that we experienced as young men” Laurent says. 

The Sport Auto sets a dynamic blue dial with crosshair motif within a 41.5mm titanium case that measures 12.7mm in thickness. The case is less than straightforward, in a way that will either make you a touch uncomfortable, or fill you with joy at its unconventionality. The dial itself is circular, but is set within a squarish structure that’s framed by a (kinda) rounded outer profile of the case. It’s weird, but it also works (to my eye). 

The blue dial gets a light gradient toward dark at its edge, and sets a lovely contrast to the lume filled, teardrop hour markers, another of Ferrier’s signature features. It’s a very sharp dial, all told, but my favorite detail is the implementation of the date window at 3 o’clock. A large section of that side of the dial is framed, and a slow, shallow rake leads to the aperture itself at the edge of the dial. It’s unusual, and begs a closer look, and if you’re going to have a date window, you may as well do something interesting with it. Job well done here.

The likely star of the show here is the ​​caliber LF270.01, a micro-rotor automatic movement designed in the now familiar Laurent Ferrier style. The grey plates get beautifully chamfered edges and horizontally brushed surfaces, which host gold/bronze toned gears and detailing. It’s suitably sporty but there’s no mistaking this for anything other than a high-end movement with some real pedigree. And it’s got a price to match, at $50,000. 

The Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto is available now from authorized retailers as well as from the brand itself. Keep an eye out for live shots as we visit with the brand at Watches & Wonders this springtime. Laurent Ferrier.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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