Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase

Angus Davies gets ‘hands-on’ with the surprisingly affordable Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase, a watch equipped with a complete calendar and the elegance of the 1930s.

This detailed review of the Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase includes live images, specification details and price.

Louis Erard - ESCAPEMENT - watch blog by Angus Davies

In a few weeks time it will be Christmas day. Overexcited children will wake their parents at an unseemly hour, desperate to open their Christmas presents. Moreover, for many the day will also consist of overindulging, consuming copious quantities of food and drink.

As a young child, a favourite present was a Cadbury’s ‘selection box’. These brightly coloured, rectangular-shaped boxes were full of my favourite examples of chocolate confectionary. I can still recall the sheer pleasure of seeing a ‘Dairy Milk’, ‘Fudge’, ‘Flake’, ‘Curly Wurly’ and ‘Crunchie’ all packaged in one cardboard box, conveniently located within close proximity to my bulging belly.

The foolishness of youth would result in my gutsily consuming all the contents of said box in a matter of hours, despite having already devoured a gigantic Christmas meal worthy of a leviathan. Invariably, the impetuosity of youth, along with my obvious lack of wisdom, would result in an inevitable bout of nausea.

My point is that sometimes when confronted with too much, we can often become overwhelmed. The same could be said when it comes to the indications presented on a wristwatch. When a watch displays many functions, it can prove excessive and the wearer is left confused.

Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase - ESCAPEMENT - watch review magazine by Angus Davies

Those watches which masterfully display many functions while remaining simple to interpret, should be respected. The classically styled, Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase is one such example, succinctly imparting information with seemly style.

Prior to writing this review, I have had little exposure to Louis Erard’s timepieces. However, I have always liked complete calendar watches and the design codes of the 1930s, hence my attraction to this particular model. Furthermore, this watch, on the face of it, offers an impressive specification for a comparatively modest sum of £1,950 (RRP as at 19.11.2015). It was therefore, for these reasons, I felt the classically styled, Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase was deserving of ‘hands-on’ evaluation.

The dial

The dauphine hour and minute hands are faceted and presented in a deep, golden tone. The slender central sweep seconds hand is equipped with a counterweight. Its narrow tip interfaces with the scale depicted on the flange, marked with a combination of Arabic numerals and black strokes.

Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase - ESCAPEMENT - watch review magazine by Angus Davies

The golden hued hour markers are applied, bestowing depth and a welcome quality, which is especially notable at this comparatively modest price point. The hour markers consist of Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock whilst the remaining hours are denoted with triangular-shaped indexes which sparkle brilliantly in ambient light.

Louis Erard has expended much effort on the dial composition. The silver toned dial canvas features a sunray motif with fine lines emanating from the central axis. Below noon, the brands nomenclature is printed on the dial surface, sitting above two apertures, one revealing the day and the other displaying the month. The edges of the two aforementioned apertures are bevelled.

In the lower portion of the dial , a moon-phase indication resides. Close examination with a powerful lens reveals much detail on this function, with golden stars and the moon shimmering magnificently. A blue hand, equipped with a crescent shaped tip, circumnavigates the perimeter of the dial, collaborating with Arabic numerals to indicate the date.

While there is a lot of detail on the dial, at no stage did I feel overwhelmed by the display. Each function is delivered in a neat, user-friendly form. Indeed, much is said, but courtesy of clear diction, interpretation of the various functions proves simple. Moreover, despite the accessible asking price, the watch delivers a palpable sense of quality, reaffirming my belief that this segment of the market place is highly competitive and would-be watch buyers have never had it so good.

The case

The 42mm stainless steel case is highly polished on all surfaces. With some watches this can seem a tad gauche, however, in this instance, the decision making process of Louis Erard’s design team proves to be very wise. The dial design exhibits a tasteful but slightly muted character. By presenting the steel in a ubiquitously gleaming form, the case lifts the dial, bringing it ‘out of its shell’ and augmenting the overall appearance. This watch exhibits elegance and masterfully avoids appearing outré despite the numerous indications presented. Furthermore, the aesthetic codes employed should ensure the design proffers lasting appeal, sidestepping the fickleness of fashion.

Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase - ESCAPEMENT - watch review magazine by Angus Davies

The crown design is interesting. It consists of a stepped profile with a knurled circlet adjacent the caseband and proves simple to manipulate. Completing the crown design is a contrasting, smooth polished section near its leading edge, exhibiting a small diameter and readily basking in ambient light. This design detail confers much eye appeal.

Gracing the highly polished caseband are four correctors for adjusting the day, date, month and moon-phase. The tip of a ballpoint pen is required to make the occasional adjustments, for example when a month contains only 30 days, however, it proves to be a simple process.

The lugs do not protrude far from the case and taper sharply downwards, enticing the strap to envelop the wrist comfortably. The brown calf leather strap fitted to my press loan timepiece proffered agreeable tactility and the double folding clasp should ensure the strap retains its factory fresh appearance for longer than a pin buckle.

I would have referred a satin-brushed clasp as I predict with extended use, it will acquire scratches on its highly polished form. However, this is a small point and does little to diminish my overall liking for the watch.

The movement

Louis Erard has equipped the 1931 Moonphase with an ETA 2824 base with a Dubois Depraz 9000 module. Both component suppliers are noted for producing reliable, robust components and provide the reassurance of Swiss quality.

Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase - ESCAPEMENT - watch review magazine by Angus Davies

The frequency of the movement is 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the power reserve is 42 hours. The oscillating mass features Côtes de Genéve motif and is signed ‘Louis Erard’. Perlage is visible on the bridges and mainplate. Blued screws are also in evidence. Indeed, the level of finishing is very good for a timepiece at this price point.

Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase - ESCAPEMENT - watch review magazine by Angus Davies

An exhibition caseback, retained with six screws, allows the wearer to appraise the movement within. The watch is also fitted with a hacking seconds, proving very useful when synchronising the timepiece with a reference clock.

Closing remarks

Christmas is a time where many aspects of life are delivered to excess and there is a tendency to feel overwhelmed. However, unlike some companies which overburden the wearer, Louis Erard has delivered many delicious specification details, prudently portioned, with all the functions presented proving simple to digest.

The Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase is a very agreeable complete calendar watch which is attractively styled and imbued with many subtle details not typically found on watches at this price point.

Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase - ESCAPEMENT - watch review magazine by Angus Davies

I am conscious that I have mentioned price several times within this article, however, the specification and finish of any watch is directly linked to the outlay a would-be buyer is asked to make. In this instance, I am very impressed with the value offered by the 1931 Moonphase and certainly anticipate reviewing further Louis Erard watches in the future.

Technical specification

  • Model: Louis Erard 1931 Moonphase
  • Reference: 31 218 AA11.BDC21
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42mm; height 11mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; day; date; month; moon-phase indication
  • Movement: ETA 2824 with Dubois Depraz 9000 complication; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve 42 hours
  • Strap: Brown calf leather strap supplied with double folding steel clasp
  • Price: £1,950 (RRP as at 17.11.2015)

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