Amid the rich and intricate world of luxury watchmaking, dial design and finishing are art forms unto themselves. While the watch industry has produced a nearly infinite array of different ways to display the time through a dial, the classical process of hand-engraved guilloché finishing remains one of the most desired and dramatic ways to create a watch dial. The latest release from Louis Erard is a brilliant and distinctive example of what makes traditional hand-finished guilloché so sought after, taking the centuries-old process in a decidedly modernist direction. The new limited-edition Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main brings together an elaborately decorated dial design with a sleek elegant case, all with a level of finishing that punches far above its price point.
Calling to mind both the marble parquet patterns of a Venetian High Renaissance palace and the mind-bending works of graphic artist M.C. Escher, the geometric dial pattern of the Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main adds an ocean of visual depth to the piece. The three-dimensional repeating cubic pattern is both unique in watchmaking and incredibly labor-intensive to achieve, involving a complex multi-step finishing process. First, brass dial blanks are finished with a deep black varnish. Each dial is then taken through the process of hand-turning on a manual rose engine lathe by the same individual master craftswoman at dial finishing specialist Fehr in La Chaux-de-Fonds, deep in the heart of Swiss watchmaking country. To complete the process, Fehr plates the brass exposed by the rose engine with rhodium, leaving a bright and highly reflective silvery finish behind. The end result is breathtaking, with the black diamonds and silvery ridged pattern combining to create the illusion of miles of visual depth on a perfectly flat surface. The rest of the dial design is cleanly minimal, with a printed Louis Erard emblem on the underside of the sapphire crystal and the brand’s signature blued steel fir tree handset.
To keep the focus on the complex craftsmanship of the dial, the 42mm stainless steel case of the Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main is kept dressy and elementally simple. The simple straight lugs, narrow rounded bezel, and the unique fir tree crown all work to complement the dial rather than draw attention away from it, but each of these polished elements is handsome and cleanly executed in its own right. Around back, Louis Erard adds a display window to the caseback to allow wearers to admire the beating mechanical heart within.
This beating mechanical heart takes the form of the tried and true Sellita SW261-1 automatic movement. The special élaboré grade example within the Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main adds a customized skeleton rotor with the brand’s signature to the handsomely functional powerplant, while providing a 38-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate.
Louis Erard finishes the Excellence Guilloché Main with a nubuck calf leather strap in simple black. This rich, textured material adds a casual edge to the refined design, while the suede-like appearance allows the matte black strap to fade into the background and maintain visual focus on the intricate dial. Subtle, timeless, and with a hint of laid-back ruggedness, this strap should prove a versatile companion for a variety of occasions and styles.
By offering a truly one-of-a-kind dial surface with world-class guilloché craftsmanship, the limited edition Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main brings a new take on a centuries-old finishing tradition to a surprisingly affordable segment of the watch market. Only 99 examples of the Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main will be made, and are available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for the Louis Erard Excellence Guilloché Main is 3,900 CHF. For more information, be sure to explore Louis Erard’s website.
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