ouis Erard’s Excellence Guilloché Main is introduced in a imited edition of 99 pieces. The 3D checked pattern catches the eye like a trompe-l’oeil: an unusual pattern on this type of finish, somewhat breaking the codes of the hand-guilloché dial. It resembles a contemporary interpretation of the marble parquet of a Venetian High Renaissance palace, crossed with an engraving by M.C. Escher.
The dials are made piece by piece by hand guilloché, one of the most traditional artistic craftworks of all. It is one of the rarer artistic craftworks that can be traced back through the entire history of watchmaking and continues to this day. In reality, it is the work of a goldsmith, where every motion of the hand counts, every gesture is the result of countless hours of work and exercises, the finished dial just a step. Like a pianist unfolding his concertos in a life of rehearsals and scales.
In this way, Louis Erard continues its journey through artistic craftworks. Hand guilloché is a new step, after Grand Feu enamel and before other artistic craftworks still to come. Always with the same objective: making the exclusivity of traditional skills accessible. And it goes even further. By making these artistic craftworks accessible, Louis Erard is fostering the perpetuation of these crafts, the survival of which depends on the world of luxury and remains fragile.
It takes several hours of work to complete just one of the dials of the Excellence Guilloché Main. They are made by the dial maker Fehr in La Chaux-de-Fonds, which regards its guilloché workshop as a precious treasure, and where each of these dials is manufactured, one by one, patiently, always by the same artisan.
The pattern is carried out on a manual guilloché rose engine lathe: a century-old machine made of cams, feelers, cranks and chisels. A whole mechanism with no regard for digital or automation. Here, everything is operated by eye and by hand. The artisan depends on her dexterity to create a pattern that is even, lively and harmonious. The demands are extreme: a single deviation in the pressure exerted on the chisel, a single broken line, and everything has to be redone.
This geometric pattern is devilish. It tricks the eye by creating depth in an image that is perfectly flat. The effect is reinforced by the black varnish, used to cover the dial before the guilloché, and the final rhodium plating that gives a silver patina to the brass exposed by the chisel.
We are far – very far – from standard practices in the Louis Erard price range, where watchmakers usually make do with stamping a pattern that imitates traditional guilloché. But to achieve the result of the Excellence Guilloché Main, there is only one way: respect for tradition and artistic craftwork.
- Movement: Automatic, Sellita SW261-1 calibre, 2 hands, 111⁄2’’’, Ø25.60 mm, height: 5.60 mm, 31 jewels, 28,800 VpH (4Hz), élaboré grade movement, special openworked oscillating weight with Louis Erard symbol, approx. 38 hours of power reserve
- Functions: Central hour and minute hands
- Case: Polished stainless steel, Ø42 mm, lug width: 22 mm, lug to lug: 49.60 mm, thickness: 12.25 mm, 3 pieces, domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides and Louis Erard logo transferred in black under the glass, movement visible through the transparent caseback, water-resistant up to a pressure of 5 bars (50 m/165 ft), signature fir tree crown, caseback engraved with “Limited Edition 1 of 99”
- Dial: Matt black varnish, checked pattern made by hand guilloché in the traditional way by Fehr & Cie SA (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland), rhodium-plated, hour circle and “Swiss Guilloché Main” transferred in powdered silver
- Hands: Signature fir tree hands in blued steel
- Strap Black calf nubuck leather with tone-on-tone stitching, polished stainless steel pin buckle, functional catch spring bars enabling the strap to be changed quickly
- Recommended retail price: CHF 3,900