A couple of years ago, not many people had clocked Louis Erard on their radar. In a very short period of time, however, the brand has grown in stature and is now recognised as a go-to brand for original collaboration watches made with famous designers or watchmakers like Alain Silberstein. Another forte of Louis Erard is its dedication to traditional decorative techniques, like enamelling and guilloché, used in more contemporary contexts. But perhaps the most attractive feature of Louis Erard’s watches is the fact that quality and good design are not accompanied by outlandish prices. The latest demonstration of the brand’s commitment to taking métiers d’art out of their classical context is the guilloché dial of the Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main II, a limited edition of 99 pieces with a bold geometric motif.
The design of the large pyramid or diamond shape dominating the dial, with its series of squares diminishing in size as they reach the apex, seems to reach up towards the sapphire crystal. Set against a black varnished background, the silver lines are engraved into the metal. The central pyramid or diamond is surrounded by circular patterns adding a dynamic kinetic and 3D sensation. Similar to the Op art of Victor Vasarely or the abstract illusionism of Frank Stella, the optical illusion produces an impression of movement, often with patterns that seem to rise and fall, depending on the angle.
Following the footsteps of the first Excellence Guilloché Main I, with its engine-turned dial and Escher-like pattern, the second Guilloché Main II is also made by the artisan dial maker Fehr & Cie based in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Instead of relying on the existing repertoire of the 80 principal guilloché patterns that are used to decorate classical dials, Louis Erard asked the dial maker to recalibrate the operating range of the manual rose engine lathes to create the original geometric pattern. This meant inventing and manufacturing new cams, large metal stencils that the lathe scales down and translates into a design. Entrusted to the same guillocheuse who produced the Guilloché Main I, the artisan spent many hours tracing the pattern of all 99 pieces with the manual guilloché rose engine lathe.
The only other elements on the dial are the blued steel fir-tree hands for the hours and minutes and an unobtrusive minutes track set against a black background with the words ‘Swiss Guilloche Main’ transferred in powdered silver. To ensure that nothing gets in the way of the mesmerising design, not even the brand name is featured on the dial.
Case & Movement
The 42mm polished steel case with a height of 12.25mm and a lug-to-lug measurement of 49.6mm is similar to other Excellence models and has a domed sapphire crystal protecting the dial and a sapphire caseback. The movement is a respectable elaboré grade Sellita SW261-1 automatic with an openworked rotor, a frequency of 28,800vph and a power reserve of 38 hours.
Availability & Price
The Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main II comes with a 22mm black grained calfskin strap with a blue lining coupled with the always appreciated quick-release levers. The watch is limited to 99 pieces and retails for CHF 3,900.
More information at Louis Erard.com.