Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Vianney Halter
Carl Eady reviews Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Vianney Halter, a collaboration between Swiss watch company Louis Erard and master independent watchmaker, Vianney Halter. Their union may appear surprising, but it is a milestone for both parties
A native of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Louis Erard started his watchmaking school and casing company back in 1929. Remarkably, within two years, he was producing watches under his own name and within six years, such was the demand for his creations, he had over 60 people in his employ. By the mid-50s, the brand was even manufacturing its own movements.
The company changed hands in 1992 and remained virtually dormant until 2003 when, having been acquired by private investors, production was resumed. Since then, the brand has gained an enviable reputation for creating high quality, classically inspired timepieces offered at surprisingly agreeable prices.
In 2019, collaborations with Alain Silberstein and Eric Giroud proved highly successful, providing Louis Erard with a link to the world of high-end watchmaking and an appetite for more collaborations. Few could have anticipated their next move would be an alliance with one of the most highly respected and ingenious independent watchmakers of this present-day era, Vianney Halter.
Halter exploded onto the horological scene in 1998 with his ‘Antiqua’, an outrageous perpetual calendar with deep porthole inspired windows and precious metal dials. He presented the watch as his interpretation of a modern-day marine chronometer. His fame ultimately led to a meeting with Max Büsser, who was working at Harry Winston at the time. Harry Winston Opus 3, made in collaboration with Vianney Halter was a beguiling masterpiece with jumping hours, minutes and date, all displayed digitally through a series of six portholes.
Halter’s supreme watchmaking skills, coupled with a fascination with science fiction, led to probably his greatest creation – the 2013 GPHG winning, Deep Space Tourbillon. Taking inspiration from the Star Trek series, it is a challenge to categorise, for under its domed sapphire crystal sits a triple axis tourbillon which combines micro-kinetic sculpture and cosmic Haute Horlogerie.
The Frenchman clearly has a philosophical outlook regarding man’s journey on earth and beyond – and the more one begins to understand him and the thinking behind his pieces, the less surprising his partnership with Louis Erard becomes. For Vianney Halter, this partnership represents an opportunity to reach a wider audience and briefly share his watchmaking philosophy with a new tier of enthusiasts.
Their union has produced Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Vianney Halter, arguably one of the most attractive launches of the year, displaying a cohesive respect for each firm’s brand identity.
Given Vianney Halter’s love of historic watchmaking, it is fitting that a regulator design was chosen for this project. Regulator clocks appeared around the middle of the 18th Century, offering unrivalled accuracy and a unique, quick to read display, separating the hours, minutes and seconds using independent dials. Prior to this collaboration, Halter had fashioned unconventional masterpieces that separated key functions into discrete indications, but he had not produced a regulator per se, whereas for Louis Erard, it was, and continues to be, a speciality of the house.
Taking Louis Erard’s ‘tried and tested’ Régulateur format, Halter has enriched the dial with many of his inspired finishing techniques which his fans will instantly recognise from his ‘Antiqua’ and ‘Classic Janvier Sun & Moon’ pieces. The upper silver plate sports radial brushwork, adding a wonderful depth to the dial. There is also a pleasing symmetry with the dial, accentuated by a curvaceous figure of eight recess in the centre which accommodates the hour and second dials. Both sides of the regulator dials are flanked by further recesses, exposing a microbead-blasted baseplate that provides a neat backdrop to the satin brushed cartouches.
A black chemin de fer graces the edge of each subdial and is paired with Halter’s well-turned Arabic numerals. The abundance of monochrome tones serves as a fitting canvas to Halter’s superlative hands. Each hand is cut from steel, then heated. During this oxidisation process, the hands pass through a colour spectrum that, when timed to perfection, achieves an almost regal blue, propelling the brand even deeper into the realms of luxury status. Resembling fountain pen nibs, the shape of the hour and minute hands are a trademark of Vianney Halter. Their elongated tips have needle-like ends which serve to enhance legibility.
The 42mm case is fashioned from stainless steel and is highly polished. It has an imposing presence, yet sits comfortably on the wrist. A studded and extremely tactile crown at 3 o’clock sports the Louis Erard logo, though it is clearly inspired by Vianney Halter’s famous high-end pieces.
With anti-reflective treatment on both sides, the case’s glazing gives a crystal-clear view of the dial from all angles. The exhibition caseback affords views of the Sellita movement within.
Powering the Régulateur is the tried and tested Sellita SW266-1, already employed in some other Louis Erard models. Running at 28,800 vph (4Hz), the movement has a power reserve of 38 hours. Given the watch’s modest price point there is minimal decoration on the movement albeit, the brushed rotor is embellished with Louis Erard’s logo.
To complement the beautifully blued hands, a navy-blue strap is fashioned from nubuck calf leather. It is secured with a simple pin and polished stainless-steel Louis Erard buckle. For convenience, a strap exchange system provides owners with the means to change the appearance of their watch without the need for tools. However, the supplied navy-blue strap is the perfect accompaniment to the watch. It adds a luxurious texture to the composition and leisurely dimension to its contemporary persona, hence it is unlikely owners will want to stray from the suggested pairing
Vianney Halter, like some of his contemporaries, dwells in the upper echelons of independent watchmaking. He is fully aware that his creations are greatly admired by many but the preserve of a select few. His collaboration with Louis Erard has given him the opportunity to share his watch designing prowess with a much wider audience, whilst remaining true to his own ideals. Rich with Vianney Halter’s DNA, Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Vianney Halter has much wrist presence and will undoubtedly attract many admiring glances.
For Louis Erard, working with the multi award-winning master watchmaker has offered an opportunity to connect with a higher level of collectors and is an endorsement of the quality they deliver within the affordable luxury segment.
Produced in a limited edition of just 178 pieces, this will certainly be a highly sought-after timepiece.
- Model: Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Vianney Halter
- Reference: 85237AA51
- Case: Polished stainless steel; diameter 42 mm; height 12.25 mm; water resistance 50ATM (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and exhibition caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds. Hour hand on counter at 12 o’clock, central minute hand, second hand on counter at 6 o’clock.
- Movement: Sellita SW 266-1 calibre; automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 31 jewels; power reserve 38 hours
- Strap: “Oceania” blue calf nubuck leather with tone-on-tone stitching, polished stainless steel pin buckle, functional catch spring bars enabling strap to be changed quickly
- Price: CHF 3,500 (RRP as at 26.10.2020)
- Limited Edition: 178 pieces