Louis Erard Excellence Regulator Gradient Dials
A historic display gets an injection of colour.
Louis Erard’s Excellence collection is populated with regulators, a historic display that had fallen into disuse but that is becoming more and more prevalent in watchmaking today. Usually reinterpreted in classic design codes, Louis Erard is determined to show the regulator in a new light and has invited external designers to jazz things up. We’ve already seen Alain Silberstein’s zany colourful Bauhaus take on the regulator and Eric Giroud’s sleek minimalist contribution. Now it’s time for the more classic Excellence Regulator model to get a makeover with the incorporation of gradient dials in three on-trend colours: green, blue and grey.
Although regulator clocks gradually faded into disuse, they were originally developed in the mid-18th century as master clocks to offer the most accurate time readings available. The distinctive feature of regulators was the separation of minutes, hours and seconds. The minutes became the true protagonists of the dial read with a large sweep hand, while the hours and seconds were usually relegated to smaller sub-dials, with all three hands working off different mechanisms. The unusual layout of the regulator is inching its way back into watchmaking with interpretations that range from ultra-classics from Patek Philippe and Glashütte Original to contemporary skeletonised models from Chronoswiss (the brand that has made regulators its speciality) all the way to Hamilton’s affordable Jazzmaster Regulator cinema.
Case and dial
Slightly smaller than Eric Giroud’s 42mm designer regulator, the three new models are housed in stainless steel cases with a 40mm diameter, the new ‘dress’ watch size that still ruffles the feathers of purists but that is gradually becoming the norm. It is even described as a ‘unisex’ watch by the brand. Housed in a relatively simple 3-part case with straight lugs and a thin bezel, the steel surfaces are polished and the caseback has a sapphire crystal to see the movement.
It’s all about the dial here and all three models bear the same black figure-eight sub-counters in the centre with the hours at the top and the small seconds at the bottom. The hours sub-dial features classic Roman numerals while the seconds are indicated with Arabic numerals (15, 30 and 45) and long, thin markers. The gradient colour of each dial is lighter in the centre and gets darker and more intense as it reaches the periphery. In addition to the gradient effect, the dials feature an attractive sunburst satin finish.
The all-important minutes are relayed on the external track in 5-minute increments picked out in a grey colour to contrast with the dial. A long silver-coloured lance hand extends all the way to the track to mark each minute with maximum precision. The three hands for the time indications are positioned on a vertical axis and equidistantly separated to underscore the symmetry of the dial. A power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock is counterbalanced with the brand name and the word Regulateur at 3 o’clock.
This trio of Louis Erard Excellence Regulateur Gradient Dial watches is powered by a movement based on the ETA Peseux 7001 (top grade) architecture, with a proprietary module on top. The hand-wound movement offers a power reserve of 42 hours and is decorated with blued screws and Geneva stripes.
If you like regulator displays and want something with a little more pizzazz, these new Louis Erard Excellence Regulator Gradient Dial collection fit the bill. Louis Erard wants to show us that regulators don’t need to be stuffy classic watches, that they can be jazzed up and enjoyed on a daily basis. I’m not sure that a 42h power reserve merits a power reserve indicator, but for many of you, this beats a date window. And on a hand-wound watch, it still makes sense.
The Louis Erard Excellence Regulator Gradient Dial collection comes with a black calf leather strap with an embossed crocodile pattern and a stainless steel folding clasp. The retail price is CHF 2,490.
More information at louiserard.com.
I suspect that the reason that the regulator style watch fell out of favour is simply because the single dial with three hands is the most effective way to tell the time at a glance, which is what most people want from a watch.