Louis Erard adds a new model, the Enamel Grand Feu II, to its Excellence series of limited edition watches created with hand-made grand feu enamel dials.
The latest model, with a dial that echoes a slightly larger version released last year, is a steel-cased 39mm time-only watch with a white dial that features the existing design’s blue markers, but adds a red XII and a few red lines of the small seconds display at six o’clock.
The watch’s rich dial and its deep colors are the result of a firing process in a kiln set at more than 800°C. The colors result from deposits of small layers of silica, oxides and potassium that, after firing, are fixed forever and permanently bonded to their metal base.
This grand feu technique is usually utilized for watches priced higher than those offered by this small independent watchmaker. However Louis Erard has found success offering a series of moderately priced limited editions that boast partnerships with watchmakers (including Vianney Halter and Alain Silberstein), notable designers and with small-batch grand feu dials.
With this strategy, the Le Noirmont watchmaker continues to raise its profile among collectors in search of relatively affordable watches with truly original, eye-catching designs.
The dials are made by Donzé Cadran, an art enameller based in Le Locle and purchased in 2011 by Ulysse Nardin. Inside Louis Erard places a Sellita automatic movement, visible through a clear sapphire caseback.
The watch boasts the brand’s signature ‘fir tree’ hands in blued steel and comes on an brilliant red grained calf leather strap with blue stitching and lined in Louis Erard’s signature blue grained calf leather.
With the new Excellence Guilloché Main II, independent Swiss watchmaker Louis Erard adds a second watch with a hand crafted guilloché dial to its expanding series of limited edition models.
The new watch, featuring a stunning diamond pattern dial, follows last year’s Excellence Guilloché Main that features an equally dazzling three-dimensional check pattern guilloché dial. And while the newest watch in the series also spotlights its hand-wrought dial, it also marks the debut of a fully original Louis Erard design that has been realized by artisanal dial-maker Fehr in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Unlike the earlier Excellence Guilloche Main, the newer edition focuses all attention to the dial pattern in part without displaying the Louis Erard name on the dial, a choice that echoes the 2021 Excellence piece the Le Regulator Louis Erard x atelier oi.
A Fehr artisan creates the dial using guilloché, a decorative art that originated in the sixteenth century. The artisan guides a chisel by hand to repeat patterns determined with a manual lathe cam. For this dial the pattern depicts an opened-up diamond with black flat spaces framed by a black track of minutes/seconds markers.
Louis Erard notes that this second Excellence Guilloché Main watch was designed according to Louis Erard board member and watch industry veteran Manuel Emch’s request that the design is fully original, and to “enhance and modernize traditional guilloché.”
Indeed, Louis Erard customized the watch’s dial production from scratch, inventing and manufacturing new cams and finishing the dial “from the first black varnishing to the final rhodium plating after the guilloché,” according to the brand.
A limited series of 99 pieces, the Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main II also features blued steel hands, a polished 42mm steel case with a clear sapphire caseback and water resistance to fifty meters. Inside Louis Erard fits a Sellita SW261-1 automatic movement.
With its Excellence series and ongoing, highly successful partnerships with watchmakers (including Vianney Halter and Alain Silberstein) and designers, this small Le Noirmont watchmaker continues to raise its profile among collectors in search of relatively affordable watches with truly original, eye-catching designs.
Movement: Automatic Sellita SW261-1 caliber, 28,800 VpH (4Hz), élaboré grade movement, meticulously decorated, special openworked oscillating weight with black lacquered Louis Erard symbol, approx. 38 hours of power reserve.
Case: 42mm x 12.25mm polished stainless steel, 3 pieces, domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides, movement visible through the transparent caseback, water resistant up to a pressure of 50 meters, signature fir tree crown, caseback engraved with “Limited Edition 1 of 99”.
Dial: Matte black varnish, open diamond made by hand guilloché in the traditional way by Fehr & Cie SA (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland), “Swiss Guilloché Main” transferred in powdered silver, signature fir tree hands in blued steel.
Strap: Black grained calf leather with tone-on-tone stitching, blue grained calf leather lining, polished stainless steel pin buckle, functional catch spring bars enabling the strap to be changed quickly.
With Silberstein you need to throw everything you think you know about watches out the window. Alain Silberstein’s creations are revolutionary. More than mere watches, they push the boundaries and question the very laws of ergonomics and design.
Perhaps the most famous Silberstein was the Krono, a chronograph that had a conventional dial layout from a positioning point of view with a Valjoux 7750 or Lemania 5100 movement inside, but with playful hands and dials that stretched design boundaries with geometrical shapes and bold primary colors.
I just had to have one of his creations and purchased my Rondo Smileday (#243 out of a 500-piece production) directly from Alain Silberstein headquarters in France.
Even now it remains my most prized work of art/timekeeping/conversation piece on the wrist.
Like any watch, it also makes a statement about the person who wears it and is a real attention-getter. Just the other night while out with friends, one of the busmen came up to our table to compliment my Rondo Smileday and to take a closer look.
Each day of the week on the Smileday is represented by a specific face and emotion (the picture attached shows Friday, the first of three consecutive smile faces (Saturday and Sunday are Big Red Smiles). Monday not happy, Tuesday still not happy, Wednesday undecided, Thursday, we are almost there.
The blue, red and yellow primary colors, red triangle crown make this a watch like no other. As playful as a Swatch but with all the inherent qualities of a $3,500 fine timepiece, my Rondo is still keeping great time. It remains one of the most reliable timekeepers in my collection.
While Alain Silberstein – the brand – is no longer active, Silberstein the man continues to produce occasional collaborations with horological partners such as MB&F and Philippe Lebru.
Fast-forward to 2020 when I discovered that Louis Erard and Alain Silberstein joined forces to create Triptych – a set of three associated watches intended to be appreciated together.
Louis Erard and Alain Silberstein together created La Semaine, Le Régulateur II, and Le Chrono Monopoussoir, produced in runs of 178 pieces each, with seventy-eight of each reserved for a three-watch collector’s set ($12,395). This left 100 examples of each watch available for individual purchases. Prices started at $3,900. Each watch is water resistant to 100 meters and comes secured on a nylon strap.
All 178 pieces sold within three days in early June 2021. The watches are not numbered, instead on the back of each case is engraved “1 of 178”.
While I missed out on the chance to buy one immediately, I was able to place my name on a waiting list at louiserard.com in case a watch became available (due to cancellation or return). I wondered at the odds and how many people might be on that list.
Lo and behold, in rather short order, after having my thrown my hat into the ring, I was informed by email that my lucky day had arrived.
Was I going to be the one who would secure a Louis Erard-Alain Silberstein Triptych watch? Would I be the first to respond? Why yes I would!
When my adventure began, I originally had my eye on the La Semaine, but in retrospect, I am very pleased to be receiving the Le Chrono Monopoussoir.
A return to the historic Krono, but with a singular twist: the chronograph is a monopusher with only a single counter. It’s a clean and concise expression of a stopwatch that perfectly complements the Silberstein style.
With just one push the chronograph hand is activated, another push pauses it, and a third push resets the chronograph to zero. Simple and elegant. It’s impossible to mix up the order in which to push the multiple buttons endemic to traditional chronographs.
Le Chrono Monopoussoir features centrally mounted hour, minute and chronograph seconds hands with a 30-minute chronograph counter at the 12 o’clock position. Silberstein also uses the Triptych to debut a new hour hand design, a red circle with a triangle pointer.
The watch’s titanium case is 40mm-wide with a lug-to-lug height of 47mm, and at 13.8mm-thick, it is the most substantial of the three. Louis Erard went for such an unmistakable case here, as it stylishly enhances Silberstein’s distinctiveness while also pulling off a cool sports watch that is like nothing else out there.
Some of the Triptych watches are already being sold online for double their cost. I for one don’t believe that such a fine watch should be leveraged for pure profit, but rather held and enjoyed for the work of art it is.
My own Le Chrono Monopoussoir is now in transit from Switzerland and I anticipate its arrival soon. To say that this particular watch hunt has given me a real thrill is no lie.
When Louis Erard debuted this watch late last year, we knew its days were numbered. This week the independent Swiss watchmaker announced that only a handful of models remain in the limited edition collection featuring a design by famed architect and watchmaker Alain Silberstein.
Available in two limited editions of 178 watches, the watch not only was Silberstein’s first-ever regulator, but it was also the first time Louis Erard had ever turned over its atelier to a guest designer. While the watchmaker did collaborate with watch designer Eric Giroud earlier in 2019 with a redesign of the Louis Erard Excellence Regulator, the collaboration with Silberstein gave the designer carte blanche.
As it turns out, Silberstein hadn’t designed a regulator in his four decades of making colorful, modernistic watches, so the function appealed to him on several levels. Fortunately, this also perfectly tied into the focus function of many existing Louis Erard offerings, primarily within its Excellence collection.
As a display seen historically on clocks used in watchmaking ateliers to set the hands of pocket watches, the regulator focuses the eye on a larger minute hand. Technically, by separating the indications of the hours, minutes and seconds, chronometric precision can improve.
As Alain Silberstein relates in Louis Erard’s promotion of this collaboration, the regulator transports him “far away to the clocks on buildings which historically told the time with just one hand, or to train station clocks.”
Silberstein created one design with two color combinations for Louis Erard. He started with a large arrow for the central minute hand, which is yellow on the black-dialed version of the watch and deep blue on the white version.
The remainder of the dial shows us pure Silberstein: the geometric simplicity of rectangles, triangles and circles. Bauhaus movement, which in 2019 celebrated 100 years since its birth, inspired Silberstein’s use of primary colors.
The 40mm steel watch, powered by an ETA 7001 manual-wind movement with Louis Erard’s own regulator module, is a bargain at its CHF 2,800 price tag (approximately$3,000).
Movement: Manual winding regulator with power reserve, ETA Peseux 7001 movement with Louis Erard RE9 complication, 21,600 VpH (3Hz), 42 hours of power reserve. Côtes de Genève decoration, blue screws and Louis Erard engraving. Functions: hours, minutes and seconds. Hour hand on counter at 12 o’clock, central minute hand, seconds hand on counter at 6 o’clock, power reserve hand at 9 o’clock.
Case: 40mm steel or stainless steel + black PVD, 3 parts, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides, case back with screws, top grade movement visible through the transparent case back, water-resistant up to a pressure of 50 meters, specially-decorated case back crystal with “Alain Silberstein X Louis Erard 1 of 178.”
Dial: Black and white matte or opaline (matte silver). Signature hands designed by Alain Silberstein. Red lacquered hour hand, yellow or blue lacquered minute hand, blue or yellow lacquered seconds hand, white or grey lacquered power reserve hand.
Strap: Black calf leather with signature stitching in red or brown calf leather with signature stitching in blue, pin buckle in stainless steel or stainless steel + black PVD.
Price: CHF 2,800. Developed in collaboration with Alain Silberstein in two limited editions of 178 pieces.