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Louis Erard Excellence Régulateur Collection Signature Time

Louis Erard has made regulator dials a company trademark. It's a revisited trend that does not compromise on clarity, and it comes in manual and automatic versions.

France
By Vincent Daveau
Managing Editor France

When all functional aspects of a product are respected, the architectural beauty follows quite naturally. This vision, embodied in the phrase "form follows function" by the Chicagoan architect Louis Sullivan at the beginning of the 20th century, gives a pithy account of the directives that led Louis Erard to create regulator-type watches. Over time, these dials became like a unique brand signature, whose balance appeals so naturally to the eye of the connoisseur. In 2017, Louis Erard – a company founded in 1929 – is offering two different versions. Armed with their genetic codes, these two timepieces, with their original and streamlined expression of time, fulfill the longings of purists seeking to own a watch with powerful charisma.

The Distruptive Route

Given a bit of creativity, it is possible to offer all watch fans a different way to read time without actually degrading classic watchmaker norms. It's what Louis Erard chose to do. The brand's taste and stylistic options resonate loud and clear without needing to shake the foundations of the craft itself.

This ability to turn balance into a visual asset means that the company's collections will indeed draw attention to themselves, because the eye defines what it finds beautiful by tapping into the principles of general geometry. And this capacity to create visual disruption that can keep one's attention is expressed mostly through a collection with a time display that is out of the ordinary.

We often forget that this dial design is in fact the product of a key form of research by the industry craftspeople to improve the precision of their referential watches, which did not usually leave the workshop. To improve accuracy, one needs to reduce all friction.

And to obtain that result, watchmakers decided to put the hour, minute and second hands at the tip of the pivots belonging to the corresponding wheels. In so doing, they actually modified the classic aesthetics of the dials, while at the same time considerably increasing the precision of watches giving time in this fashion.

An Eye on Time

The most important feature of the 40-millimeter Regulator watch in steel is its visual purity and the readability of the dial. It is equipped with a manually wound mechanical movement using an in-house power reserve indicator module developed in collaboration with Soprod. This delicate and efficient watch goes to the heart of the matter by playing with the codes of classical watchmaking. What we like especially: The fine bezel that makes the radiating barleycorn guilloché dial look gigantic, the large cutouts of the two subsidiary dials that are superimposed, forming a kind of figure eight or a stylized hourglass. Obviously, it's the blued steel hands that make the whole ensemble look even more classical. In sum, this timepiece, with its separate power reserve indicator at 9 o'clock, extends the metaphor of tradition by featuring a dial inspired by the handsome precision regulators from the 19th-century watchmaking workshops.

Worthy of note, however, is the plain fact of having a power reserve indicator. Because of it, genuine aficionados will be able to wind their watches just enough to be in the segment that produces the greatest efficiency from the mainspring. This guarantees that the movement will perform better and deliver optimal precision. One must make sure that the tip of the power reserve hand is neither at the top of the scale, to avoid too much tension, nor at the bottom of the scale, to avoid loss of balance-wheel amplitude. Naturally, with this indicator, this this timepiece will be the one that the precision "freaks" and lovers of traditional products will prefer.

Different Associations

The automatic version of the regulator presented this year by Louis Erard will most probably appeal more to mechanical watch fans who are somewhat ahead of everyone. It's in steel as well, but the 42-millmeter case is coated in black PVD. It's decidedly more contemporary, and runs on an automatic caliber with a Dubois Dépraz module. In other words, it's a movement made for buyers who are not so well versed in watchmaking lore. It's graphics are a little more "street," as it were. The hands take their inspiration from the workshop regulators. The dial, as a whole, is symmetrical. The horizontal lines are balanced out by the vertical ones of the hour and minute compositions, which is delightful to the eye.

The time display is easy to read and is rounded off by the date, which appears in an aperture classically placed at 3 o'clock on a fine, guilloche dial with black treatment. To make sure the watch is in touch with current trends, it comes on a beige nubuck leather strap. This very fashionable connection gives a subtle hint at a vintage style, whose black dial does, after all, take away a bit from the classic look. Note, too, the several iterations, like the one in steel with a stamped guilloché dial that is especially alluring.

One thing the fans will definitely remember: the price-quality ratio for these models, which are beautiful, original, and finished with great care.

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