In recent years, we’ve seen Swiss brand Louis Erard moving from a confidential manufacturer to a hot watch company, mostly due to a series of well-designed collaborations with great names in the industry – Alain Silberstein, Vianney Halter, Seconde/Seconde, to name a few. The latest name to join this list is Massena LAB, the creative horological studio founded by William Massena and specialised in designing and developing timepieces often with other watchmakers. If you know William, you’ll be aware of his love for vintage and classic watchmaking, which has already been demonstrated with the watch made by Luca Soprana. Using the same codes of 19th century marine chronometry, and specifically those of Antide Janvier, Massena LAB brings here with Louis Erard a far more accessible take on the concept, with the new and pretty attractive Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Massena LAB.
William Massena, the founder of Massena LAB, has a sheer interest in watchmaking in general, with strong knowledge of anything vintage or even antique. As a former head of an auction house and Managing Director of one of the largest watch forums, he had the time to gather a strong experience but also to refine his tastes in watches. The first pieces created under the Massena LAB were certainly appealing but also a bit expected. Classic vintage inspirations were visible in the Unimatic or Habring² models. Yet, the latest creations of the studio are more personal, more niche and less consensual. But, at least to me, extremely attractive, being tributes to an important era of the watchmaking industry – the 19th century. We’ve seen this with the Luca Soprana or the Massena LAB Erwin LAB03, and we see it back here, with the Régulateur Louis Erard x Massena LAB.
The inspiration for this new collaboration model is that of “the clocks and the marine chronometers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, in particular those by Antide Janvier and Ferdinand Berthoud. Marine chronometers of this period were not
only aesthetically beautiful – often with intricate, metallic dials – but also technically advanced in their ability to keep precise time over a long journey,” explains Massena. This influence is unmistakable when looking at the dial of this new Regulator watch, which is available in two colourways – the only defining element between the two editions.
For this new model, Louis Erard provides the technical canvas, understand the case, the movement and the regulator display. The artistic direction was left in the hands of Massena LAB, with the idea to bring elements of classic watchmaking yet respecting the accessibility of Louis Erard. We thus find back here the traditional case of the brand, a rounded, softly shaped 42mm steel case with polished surfaces. As always, this is a rather sizeable model, with a 12.25mm height and a 49.6mm lug-to-lug measurement, but the curvature of the lugs helps here. The case has sapphire crystals on both sides and is water resistant to 50 metres. A specific Massena crown has been added to the package.
The real deal on the Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Massena LAB is, without a doubt, the dial. Inspirations from antique marine chronometers are easily noticeable, whether for the layout, the textures, the colours or the indexes. Available either in a very Berthoud gold-plated colour or in a more subtle rhodium-plated grey version, the dial has a multi-layer profile. The lower plate, which carries the colour, has a rough grained/frosted surface with the two logos of the participating brands in black and slightly raised. On both models, the subsidiary dials of the regulator display (central minutes, hours at 12 o’clock, seconds at 6 o’clock), as well as the outer dial ring, are rhodium-plated and circular-grained for visual contrast and increased legibility. Time is read by leaf-shaped blued steel hands, again for a classic look.
While the rhodium-plated Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Massena LAB certainly will be the easiest to live with and the most discreet on the wrist, I must admit that the gold-plated version feels even more attractive and has an unbeatable charm… Something pleasantly outdated, antique without feeling old. The watches are paired with discreet black grained calf leather straps with tone-on-tone stitching, closed by a pin buckle and equipped with quick-release spring bars.
Under the transparent caseback is an automatic movement supplied by Sellita, the Calibre SW266-1 (the regulator version of the ubiquitous SW200-1). Here presented in élaboré grade, it is pleasantly decorated and comes with classic specifications – 38h power reserve and 4Hz frequency.
Availability & Price
The Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Massena LAB is released as a limited edition of 178 pieces per colourway. The watch is now available for purchase at www.massenalab.com, at www.louiserard.com, and at select Louis Erard retailers. It is priced at CHF 3,600 or USD 3,950.