Monochrome Watches
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6 Highly Original or Super Technical Takes on the Regulator Watch

Splitting time between hours, minutes and seconds six different ways.

| By Brice Goulard | 7 min read |
Raúl Pagès Régulateur à Détente RP1

Despite their original display, which splits time (for most of them) between central minutes, hours in a sub-dial at 12 o’clock and seconds in a subsidiary counter at 6 o’clock, regulator watches are some of the most classic you can imagine. The origin of these régulateur is nothing fancy, it has nothing to do with design choice, but it answers highly practical needs. Before the invention of precision digital clocks, watchmakers set and tested their watches against a master clock. Positioned where all the watchmakers could easily reference it from their bench, these highly precise clocks were most of the time equipped with a split display with the minute hand taking central stage. These have become a great source of inspiration for several watch brands (Chronoswiss, already in 1983, made it its signature style). And while the idea of splitting time in different portions of the dial remains the central idea behind a regulator watch, there is more than just one way to do it… Complications, opposite layouts, original designs; here are 6 of the most original or complex takes on the regulator watch. 

Louis Erard Regulateur x Cedric Johner

The regulator display has become a true signature of Louis Erard, with some of the most original watches with such a display… Think collaborations with Silberstein or Chaykin, modernist guilloche dials or minimalistic artistic approach, or even a tourbillon. The very latest Régulateur by Louis Erard is all about originality in the design, yet classism in the display. Made in collaboration with independent watchmaker Cédric Johner, the regulator plays on shapes to trick the eye. Although it comes in a classic round 39mm case, it looks hexagonal at first glance, thanks to a domed hexagonal sapphire crystal covering the dial. On the dial, the tricks are also visible with a hexagonal minute track, two concave sub-dials for the hours and seconds, and a strong sunray pattern that even accentuates all of these shapes. Inside is a Sellita SW266-1, which helps keep the price at a reasonable level. Limited to 178 pieces in each colour (mauve or blue).

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Quick Facts – 39mm x 12.82mm – round polished case with hexagonal dial opening – mauve or blue PVD dial with sunray pattern – classic regulator dial layout – Sellita SW266-1 automatic, 4Hz, 38h power reserve – grained calfskin strap – limited edition of 178 pieces per colourway – CHF 4,000

moritz grossmann tourbillon tremblage

When you look at the regulator section of MONOCHROME, you’ll see many “simple” watches. Well, not for Moritz Grossmann… Already known as the Benu Tourbillon, the brand adds a sophisticated edition this year with a so-called tremblage dial, a hand-hammering technique with the dial engraved by hand using a variety of burins. But what matters in today’s context is the originality and complexity of this regulator watch, with a horizontal layout – central minutes with a trick between 25 and 35 minutes, hours and seconds on the same axis slightly above the centre of the dial – simply because room is needed for the splendid flying tourbillon regulator (16mm diameter). In addition, the tourbillon performs its rotation in 3 minutes and not 60 seconds and comes with a fascinating stop-second function, an elastic brush made of human hair, which gently slows the balance down at the rim perimeter. One of the most fascinating regulators on the market.

Quick Facts – 44.5mm x 13.9mm – 18k white or rose gold case – German silver dial, galvanised in “black-or” with tremblage texture – regulator display with central minutes hours at 3, small seconds at 9 and 3-minute tourbillon at 6 – calibre 103.0, in-house hand-wound, 72h power reserve, 2.5Hz – alligator leather strap with butterfly clasp – Limited edition of 8 pieces per colourway – from EUR 198,000

Jacob & Co. Astronomia regulator

First unveiled in 2014, the Astronomia by Jacob & Co caused quite a stir, with its concept relying on planetary displays in perpetual motion, all under the control of a multiple-axis tourbillon. And this year, Jacob releases a spectacular take on the regulator display. In typical Astronomia fashion, its rotating movement carries three arms; one for the one-minute flying tourbillon and two for the time display. But this regulator is like no other… First of all the central indication is dedicated to the seconds, with the hours and minutes relegated in (rotating but always upright sub-dials). Second, the entire base of the movement on a translucent ring rotates counter-clockwise at the crazy speed of once per minute. Such energy consumption required the development of a constant force mechanism; an intermediate spring reloading six times per second. No doubt that this Jacob & Co. Astronomia Regulateur is one of the most impressive regulator watches now available.

Quick Facts – 43mm x 18mm – 18K rose gold and sapphire case – base dial in polished titanium, domed sub-dials in coloured polycarbonate – regulator display with central seconds, hours and minutes in separate sub-dials – one-minute flying tourbillon and entire movement rotating once per minute – calibre JCAM56, made with Concepto, 3Hz, 48h power reserve – alligator strap and rose gold folding buckle – limited edition of 250 pieces – USD 280,000

Raul Pages Regulateur a detente

Another highly technical take on the regulator, in a completely different attire than the Jacob above… Relatively simple at first sight, if not minimalistic, the magic of the Raúl Pagès Régulateur à Détente RP1 happens on the back. What Pagès has done is nothing short of spectacular, as he has managed to create a wristwatch-compatible detent escapement. A grail of chronometry that has rarely been fitted into wristwatches, mainly due to inherent weaknesses (resistance to shocks…), the detent escapement was used mostly in marine chronometers for its accuracy. Raúl Pagès made it viable in a wristwatch… and what a wristwatch. Superbly finished, elegant with a modern twist, it shows a classic regulator display with central minutes, hours at 12 o’clock and small seconds at 6 o’clock. Take a closer look at this in-depth article to understand its importance.

Raúl Pagès Régulateur à Détente RP1

Quick Facts – 38.5mm x 10.2mm steel case – sand-blasted and nickel-plated dial with recessed blue-lacquered small seconds subdial – classic regulator display – hand-wound in-house-made movement, pivoted detent escapement with anti-tripping system, 2.5Hz, 47h power reserve – black leather strap and beige leather strap – CHF 85,000 excl. taxes

Chronoswiss Strike Two

One of the most active ambassadors of the regulator watch – which has been a signature display since the creation of the brand in the 1980s – Chronoswiss has dozens of such watches in its collection, from classic to ultra-modern. With the brand’s latest creation, the Strike Two Series, Chronoswiss breaks its own norm with a horizontal regulator display. Here, the minutes are still centrally positioned, with the hours in an openworked sub-dial at 3 o’clock and the seconds in a guilloche counter at 9 o’clock. Hallmarks elements (knurled case, onion crown, screw lugs) are paired with bold aesthetics, including the H2O edition with a water-textured blue dial – the other one, in brushed grey and with gold accents, is more classic. Inside is a new movement for the brand, an automatic calibre developed with La Joux-Perret. Each edition is limited to 100 pieces.

Quick Facts – 40mm x 12.7mm steel case, knurled bezel and onion crown – horizontal regulator display with openworked minutes – base level with vertical brush (Golden Gear) or stamped and blue CVD-Coated (H2O) – Calibre C. 6000 made with La Joux-Perret, automatic, 4Hz, 55h power reserve – calfskin leather strap – limited edition of 100 pieces each – CHF 9,800

Garrick regulator mk2

Made in Great Britain, almost entirely customizable, equipped with an in-house developed movement and with a regulator display that doesn’t want to be symmetrical… The Garrick Regulator MK2 combines oddities to become one of the most characterful regulator watches available. First introduced in 2016, the Garrick Regulator was fully revamped last year with a reworked display, a more balanced layout and a new movement, the manually wound mechanical calibre UT-G02 replacing the old Unitas base. And what stands out with Garrick and this regulator is the ability to fully customize your watch. The base can be either frosted or engine-turned, available in an array of classic or original colours and you can even choose the colour of the movement (gold, silver, rhodium or black frosted). It’s not the easiest watch to obtain (only on order, with long build time) but the result is a very personal take on the regulator watch.

Quick Facts – 42mm x 11mm 904L steel case – frosted or engine-turned dial in various colours – exposed free-sprung balance at 6 o’clock – regulator display with central minutes, hours at 3 o’clock and seconds at 10 o’clock – Calibre UT-G02 in-house developed hand-wound movement, 45h power reserve, gold, silver, rhodium or black frosted finish – alligator or exotic leather strap – limited production – from GBP 9,995 (excl. taxes)

1 response

  1. Love this article dedicated to one of my favourite interpretations of time-telling; regulators!

    I’m a little sad that the underrated (by the wider watch community) and underdog, Patek Philippe 5235g and 5235r, were not on the list.
    Both timepieces have two escapement features from PP’s Advanced Research Department usually dedicated for Grand Complications (Pulsomax and Spiromax, latter made from Silinvar), and the 5235 series have Annual Calendar complication.
    This is my favourite regulator, with Raúl Pagès’ Régulateur à Détente RP1 my second.
    The dial design to overall shape, readability and useful features, including a micro-rotor, make this one fantastic everyday watch, and the discrete engraved PP name on the dial (off-centre at the 3 o’clock position) is just icing on the cake.

    Even so, thank you for a great Sunday read, and happy to see more articles around regulator watches!

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