Louis Erard La Sportive Ultima RS Limited Edition
The Louis Erard La Sportive Ultima RS Limited Edition is a bi-compax chronograph, featuring both a telemeter scale and a tachymeter scale. Its 42.5mm steel case is presented in a matte black PVD finish. This limited-edition watch has been produced in collaboration with the specialist British supercar company, Ultima Sports Ltd.
When some consumers contemplate purchasing a new watch, they may well consider a Breitling, an IWC, an Omega or a Rolex. All of these companies make superb watches. Indeed, from a personal perspective, I am desirous of several models from each of these four brands. However, sometimes when we look beyond the obvious choices, we can discover something different, characterful and equally compelling.
For example, look at supercars. The majority of affluent buyers will probably consider an Aston Martin, Ferrari, McLaren or Porsche. Based on personal experience, I know they will not be disappointed. However, the British supercar manufacturer, Ultima Sports Ltd, provides various mouthwatering alternatives.
Founded in 1983, Ultima is based in Leicester. It can supply petrolheads with cars in both kit form or as ready assembled models. The brand has set numerous world speed records. The Ultima RS is the marque’s fastest-ever supercar, capable of 0-60mph in just 2.3 seconds with a top speed in excess of 250mph. Interestingly, within this esoteric domain, Ultima ownership is comparatively affordable with prices starting at £52,995 for a basic model, supplied in kit form. The Ultima RS is a little more, priced from £89,995 in ‘basic spec’, ready assembled.
Louis Erard is a Swiss independent watch company. While it may lack the brand awareness enjoyed by some of watchmaking’s big brands, it nevertheless makes some superb watches that are different to mainstream timepieces and, similar to Ultima, it offers excellent value for money.
Despite both firms being based in two different countries, they share much in common. It may be for this reason that the two companies have chosen to work together. Indeed, Louis Erard is the ‘official timing partner’ of Ultima Sports Ltd.
To mark this relationship, Louis Erard has released La Sportive Ultima RS Limited Edition, a bi-compax chronograph, presented in a 42.5mm stainless steel case featuring black PVD treatment. The model is limited to just 60 pieces, granting an agreeable dose of exclusivity.
I recently received an example of the watch, allowing me to appraise the model over a week-long period.
Silver-toned leaf-shaped hour and minute hands, located in the centre of the dial, float above a sea of white glossy tones. Each hour is denoted with a slender black baton save for 6 o’clock, where a date aperture displaces the usual index, and noon, where Arabic numerals impart meaning.
A black minuterie frames the central dial area. It is marked with a series of black strokes as well as accompanying Arabic numerals, positioned at 5-minute intervals. When the chronograph is used to measure an event, the markings on the minuterie allow the wearer to read-off ¼-second values. Personally, I did struggle to read these latter markings, however, younger eyes should have no problem. Rest assured, I found all other dial markings highly legible.
Two snailed subdials dominate the dialscape, delivering an eye-catching contrast, as a result of their colour and their matte finish. A 30-minute chronograph register is positioned next to the crown, while a small seconds display is located opposite. The bi-compax dial layout proffers symmetry and delivers a wonderfully harmonious appearance.
The date is presented at 6 o’clock in red against a white disc. Its subtle use of colour augments legibility while enlivening the dial.
A tachymeter scale is presented in silver tones and occupies the central area of the dial, while a telemeter scale hugs the periphery of the dialscape. The telemeter scale is presented on a matte black circlet, heightening the dial’s overall charm.
As previously mentioned, the 42.5mm case is formed of stainless steel, treated with black PVD and exhibits a matte finish. Unlike some PVD treatments I have seen, this example adheres steadfastly to the case. Indeed, if I did not know better, I would have assumed the case was hewn from one block of homogenous material. It exudes quality from every facet.
The crown, pushpieces, bezel, lugs and caseback all share the same unassuming, matte finish. Everything is understated, playing a deferential role to the dial indications. The caseback is domed and considerately nuzzles the wrist, providing an impressive ergonomic relationship with the arm.
An exhibition caseback affords views of the self-winding movement. The pane of sapphire crystal features Ultima branding and proclaims the model’s limited-edition status. Unlike some watches where the text significantly impairs the view of the movement, the self-winding calibre remains highly visible.
Once again, Louis Erard has procured another interesting strap. It is formed of black calf leather with an eye-catching carbon style weave. It bears a strong resemblance to the lightweight material beloved by motor-racing teams and it has a sumptuous tactile feel.
The Louis Erard La Sportive Ultima RS Limited Edition is equipped with the self-winding Calibre ETA Valjoux 7753. Unlike its famous sibling, the ETA Valjoux 7750, this movement features a recessed push button at 10 o’clock, allowing the wearer to quickly correct the date.
In this instance, the oscillating weight has been personalised for the brand. The brushed weight emulates the appearance of a steering wheel and incorporates a series of apertures, which afford superior views of the self-winding movement.
According to the ETA website, the frequency of the balance is 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the movement features 27 jewels. Louis Erard state the watch has a power reserve of 48 hours.
There is no escaping brand awareness and badge snobbery leads some people to favour the ‘usual suspects’. In many cases they will be happy with their purchase. However, there is some merit in looking beyond the obvious choices and procuring a product that confers exclusivity and virtue.
Having read numerous articles about Ultima, I have established they hold numerous world speed records, surpassing the performance of some very famous car marques. Moreover, by virtue of its limited production capacity, each Ultima supercar delivers a high quotient of exclusivity. Now, I know about Ultima Sports Ltd, I want to experience time behind the wheel of one of its cars. And that is my point, we seldom possess perfect knowledge, meaning we may well overlook an example of greatness within our midst.
In terms of Louis Erard, my own knowledge of the brand has grown exponentially in recent years. It clearly obsesses over the minutiae. For example, the dial of the Louis Erard La Sportive Ultima RS Limited Edition features glossy and matte surfaces in close proximity, providing seemly contrast. Likewise, the juxtaposing of black and white hues is a tried and tested winning formula. Close examination of the subdials reveals they are snailed. In addition, the date numerals are depicted in an ebullient shade of red. The brand from Le Noirmont repeatedly obsesses over the smallest of details and, by default, enriches the ownership experience.
Measuring 42.5mm in diameter, the case is optimally proportioned and should suit a broad array of wrist sizes. The PVD treatment looks superb, while the caseback incorporates tasteful branding and features an ergonomic shape, heightening wearer comfort. Even the strap shows the brand has expended time fussing over the tiniest of details.
Louis Erard does not suffer from delusions of grandeur by purporting to be the last word in haute horlogerie. Indeed, its modest prices preclude such an approach. However, considering this watch costs CHF 3,100 (including Swiss taxes – RRP as at 13.8.2020), it delivers more than many other models competing at this price point and feels more expensive than its price would suggest.
Similar to Ultima, Louis Erard once again demonstrates there is much to be gained by looking at independent brands.
- Model: Louis Erard La Sportive Ultima RS Limited Edition
- Reference: 71245NN32.BVA42
- Case: Stainless steel with matte black PVD treatment; diameter 42.5mm; water resistance 5ATM (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front; exhibition case back.
- Functions: hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph; tachymeter scale; telemeter scale
- Movement: ETA Valjoux 7753; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 27 jewels; power reserve 48 hours.
- Strap: Black calf leather with carbon style weave paired with matching PVD pin buckle
- Price: CHF 3,100 (including Swiss taxes – RRP as at 13.8.2020)