Amid the larger stylistic movements gripping the modern luxury watch industry, one subtler trend has largely flown under the radar – the return of sector dials. Across the industry, from boutique independent marques to massive names like Longines, brands have turned their attention towards the elegantly segmented and graphic dial layouts of the ‘30s through the ‘50s as inspiration for a new generation of vintage-inspired dress designs. Louis Erard is the latest brand to explore this classic style, combining a multi-finish sector dial layout with a handsome and period-correct salmon colorway. The new limited production Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta series offers impressively nuanced finishing, alongside a clean and wearable case design in a pair of sizing options.
Available in both 39mm and 42mm diameters, the polished stainless steel case of the Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta series takes a simple and classical approach to dress watch design in images. The long straight lugs feature a pronounced downward curve, the case side profile is softly rounded, and the smooth bezel is elegantly narrow to give the design an all-dial appearance when viewed from above. The 39mm model balances these elements cleanly and evenly in images, but the larger dimensions of the 42mm model give this variant a more modern and muscular edge. Both variants are fitted with sapphire display casebacks, and offer middling water resistance ratings of 50 meters.
The dial design is the true centerpiece of the Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta series. Louis Erard plays with both color and surfacing deftly in images, creating a design that feels both rooted in the classic dress watch designs of the ‘40s without becoming too beholden to any one specific inspiration. The dial surface itself shows off a wealth of depth and nuance in images, with a restrained salmon hue and a lightly grained matte finish across most of the dial. The radially brushed hours ring gives this color a chance to shine with a more dynamic surface, and the recessed 6 o’clock small seconds subdial gives the design a greater sense of depth overall while providing added texture with an azurage finish. Louis Erard contrasts the soft dial hue with charcoal gray for the brand’s signature fir-tree handset, along with the mix of printed indices and airy printed Arabic numerals. By avoiding a deep black shade for these elements, the Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta’s dial retains a sense of softness and nuance in initial photos, whereas a fully saturated black would likely overwhelm the rest of the design visually. As with the cases, both the 39mm and 42mm variants approach the proportions of these dials differently, and each model makes noteworthy compromises to the layout. The 39mm model offers the more classical look of the pair, with a more tightly packaged dial that adroitly splits visual real estate between the matte main dial and the brushed hours ring. However, these more compact proportions make the lightly printed outer minutes track difficult to read at a glance in images, and the 6 o’clock small seconds subdial overflows the 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock indices in what will likely be a divisive move among enthusiasts. Interestingly, the 42mm model appears to use the same subdial size as its smaller counterpart, leading to a partial printed numeral at 6 o’clock. The greater abundance of negative space gives this larger variant a more open, contemporary look in initial images, and the wider outer minutes scale improves legibility noticeably in images. Given these varied design quirks, a 40mm addition to the line would likely split the difference between the two models effectively and prove to be a hit among enthusiasts.
Louis Erard powers both versions of the Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta with the Sellita SW266-1 automatic movement. Louis Erard’s finishing on the SW261-1 is simple and functional, with matte finished bridges topped by a custom signed brushed skeleton rotor. The SW261-1’s performance is nearly identical to its center seconds-equipped SW200-1 counterpart, with a mediocre 38 hour power reserve and a 28,800 bph beat rate. Louis Erard finishes both variants of the watch with an extremely dark coffee brown calf leather strap, featuring black undertones and wheat-colored accent stitching.
With finely detailed dial finishing, a charismatic muted colorway, and a pair of versatile sizing options, the limited production Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta series delivers a nuanced and attractive take on the growing sector dial watch trend. While not rigidly restricted in terms of overall production numbers, both the 39mm and 42mm variants of the watch will be limited to only 100 examples made per year. Both versions of the Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta are available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for both models stands at 1,950 CHF as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.