The guiding light behind Louis Erard, the Swiss watchmaking brand based in Le Noirmont, is to offer high-quality mechanical watches at a fair price. One of the brand’s star models, following its re-launch in 2003, is Le Régulateur. Inspired by precision master clocks of the 18th century, the distinctive feature of the regulator is the separation of minutes, hours, and seconds. Injecting new life into a historic complication, Louis Erard has invited watchmakers Alain Silberstein and Vianney Halter to provide their take on the complication. Rather than turn to watchmaking legends, this time Louis Erard has invited atelier oï, a leading Swiss architecture and design studio, to create a new dial for the regulator. The result is the Le Régulatur Louis Erard x atelier oï, a highly original and refined interpretation of the regulator with a radiant, kinetic contemporary soul.
Co-founded in 1991 by Aurel Aebi, Armand Louis and Patrick Reymond, the name atelier oï is derived from the Russian word troïka (a team of three). The headquarters of atelier oï is situated in a former motel of La Neuveville, just outside Neuchâtel. Currently managed by Manuel Emch – the figure behind the renaissance of Jaquet Droz and an independent consultant to the watchmaking industry – the prospect of designing a new dial for the Le Régulateur Louis Erard was warmly received.
The basic design tenet accorded upon by the team was to create a dial that would “radiate from the centre outwards”. Another requirement was to reduce the technical vocabulary as much as possible and evoke the shape of a sundial.
Although Louis Erard worked with designer Eric Giroud on a beautiful minimalist version of the Excellence Regulator, this latest collaboration has resulted in perhaps the most abstract interpretation of the watch to date. The dial has no markings whatsoever and is composed of a series of engraved lines. Like historical regulator clocks, the minutes are the protagonists and indicated by the longest of the three blued baton hands located in the centre of the dial. The lines are engraved into the matte “Black Or” slate grey base to create radiant light-catching reflections and contrasting shadows. The effect is similar to that produced by kinetic artworks that seem to be in constant motion depending on the light and viewing angle.
The hour and seconds hands of the Le Régulateur Louis Erard x atelier oï, located at 12 and 6 o’clock respectively, are also situated on the central axis and are the departure point for the engraved lines fanning out from their centre. The polished segments engraved against the matte background emanate like sunrays adding depth and volume to the two-dimensional surface. But, like any good design, there is a method in the creativity, and there are sixty segments on the peripheral minutes track with a more pronounced line every five minutes.
Case and movement
Like other models in the Le Régulateur series, the case is made from stainless steel and polished throughout with a 42mm diameter and a thickness of 12.25mm. The caseback is engraved with the inscription “atelier oï x Louis Erard Limited Edition x of 178“. And, like other straightforward three-hand regulator watches in the Excellence collection, the movement is an automatic Sellita SW266-1 beating at 28,800vph with a 38-hour power reserve. Naturally, the movement has been personalised with a special openworked rotor and can be viewed through the sapphire crystal window.
Matching the grey tone of the dial, the strap is made from grey Nubuck calf leather with tone-on-tone stitching and a polished stainless steel buckle. Functional catch spring bars allow the strap to be swapped quickly. Limited to 178 pieces, the Le Régulateur Louis Erard x atelier oï retails for CHF 3,500.
For more information, please visit Louis Erard.