Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Excellence Regulator
The Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Excellence Regulator combines the brand’s talent for delivering both quality and value with the distinctive design language of the famous Parisian, Alain Silberstein.
Alain Silberstein was born in Paris but has spent a significant amount of his life living and working in Besançon, a city with a proud history of making clocks and watches. Moreover, Besançon is located close to the Swiss border and the latter country’s legendary watchmaking capital, La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The French designer graduated with a diploma in interior architecture and model making and initially worked as an interior designer. In 1990, he established his own eponymously-named watch company. Unfortunately, it ceased operations in 2012, however, not before Alain had showcased his bold use of colour, geometric shapes and textured surfaces.
Monsieur Silberstein’s talents did not escape the attention of other watch brands. As a result, he has since worked for an array of companies, including MB&F, Romain Jerome and, more recently, Louis Erard.
Over the last few days, I have been wearing the Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Excellence Regulator. Its styling has certainly attracted attention from onlookers. Indeed, despite all parties observing social distancing, in the present Covid-19 era, the brightly-hued watch has never gone unnoticed.
The Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Excellence Regulator is available in two versions, one with a white dial and a second in black. My press loan was presented in the latter shade and incorporated Silberstein’s three favourite colours, blue, red and yellow, upholding his design philosophy. Furthermore, the limited-edition model playfully encompassed various geometric shapes, again another Silberstein trademark.
A speciality of Louis Erard is the regulator watch. The Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Excellence Regulator displays the hours on a dedicated silvery-white subdial, positioned below noon. An ebullient red triangle points to the prevailing hour.
Consistent with other regulators, the minutes assume the lead role. An eye-popping, oversized yellow hand, with a sizeable arrowhead, points to the minute track. This track features a combination of yellow and white strokes of differing lengths.
Despite the hour and minute hands conveying meaning with a notable degree of flamboyance, the small seconds display exhibits a comparatively restrained character. The seconds track comprises of small dots which collaborate with a blue serpentine hand to succinctly convey meaning.
A particularly useful function found on this hand-wound watch is the power-reserve indicator, positioned at 9 o’clock. A svelte hand sits above a recessed circlet. When the mainspring is devoid of energy, this hand points to a soupçon of red positioned on the edge of the circlet. Conversely, if the movement is fully wound, the hand of the power-reserve indicator points to a white mark located below.
Appraising the side profile of the watch, the sapphire crystal (anti-reflective treatment on both sides) is flat and sits flush with the top of the bezel. The flanks of the case resemble a bowl-shape with the diameter of the caseback proving narrower than the dial area. This latter detail allows the wrist to flex more readily, augmenting wearer comfort. Six screws hold the caseback in position. The lugs taper sharply downwards and the distance between the lugs is 48mm (approximately).
Louis Erard has chosen to equip the Excellence Regulator with an exhibition caseback. However, it has also inscribed the pane of sapphire crystal with a combination of text and logos. This was the only detail which I found a tad frustrating. I prefer an exhibition caseback because it affords views of the movement, however, the array of inscriptions on the crystal impaired my view. On reflection, I would have preferred a clear exhibition caseback or a solid caseback with contrasting white text and branding. Nevertheless, this is only a minor criticism and no doubt some wearers will disagree with my opinion.
The watch is housed in a 40mm steel case with black PVD treatment. It is supplied on a black calf leather strap with ‘Alain Silberstein signature stitching in red’ and a pin buckle in black, matching the case finish. The judicious use of red stitching enlivens the ensemble, inducing a welcome sense of cheer.
Since the 1980s, Louis Erard has used the ETA/Peseux 7001 movement, often adding complications as required. The Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Excellence Regulator perpetuates this strategy pairing the movement with the brand’s RE9 complication.
Having worn the watch for a few days, I have enjoyed the daily ritual of winding the mainspring. This task provides a welcome intimacy between the wearer and his watch. If the winding action loses its smooth rotating motion and starts to graunch, the owner will immediately know that something is amiss eg requiring service or repair. While automatic watches prove easier to wear day to day, nothing supplants the cathartic process of winding a manual movement.
Despite this Louis Erard model being keenly priced (£2590 – RRP as at 2.7.2020), there are some wonderful episodes of considered design and refined execution. The bridges are decorated with Côtes de Genève motif while the crown wheel and the ratchet wheel are embellished with sunray-brush. In addition, the movement features an abundance of blued screws, consistent with fine watchmaking practice.
I have enjoyed my time with the Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Excellence Regulator and will be sad to return it to its rightful owner. The legibility is very good, the PVD treated case is superbly executed and its size should suit most wrists. Furthermore, the movement is beautifully appointed and the model is keenly priced.
However, there is an elephant in the room, namely the styling of this watch. Louis Erard has not chosen to play it safe with this limited-edition model. Its design is thought-provoking and could even be described as outlandish. Its bold and brave styling will inevitably polarise opinion. Personally speaking, I love the appearance of the watch.
In my opinion, the Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Excellence Regulator transcends fine watchmaking – it is a piece of wrist-worn art. The Swiss watch brand talks of Silberstein’s use of a ‘basic spectrum of blue, red and yellow, inspired by the Bauhaus movement’ and it is clear to see what they mean. Nevertheless, I cannot help thinking of Pablo Picasso’s Cubism Period, with the artist creatively incorporating different geometric forms with limited use of colour. Quite simply, this is a watch for free-spirits and fun-loving individuals who choose to reject conformity
This avant-garde creation is not only well made and keenly priced but it also exudes an air of happiness and optimism, two useful qualities during this challenging period in history.
- Model: Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Excellence Regulator
- Reference: 54230NS62.BVA09
- Case: Stainless steel case with black PVD coating; diameter 40 mm; water resistance 5ATM (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and exhibition caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; power-reserve indicator
- Movement: ETA 7001 with Louis Erard RE9 complication; hand-wound movement; frequency 218,600 VpH (3Hz); 21 jewels; power reserve around 42 hours
- Strap: Black calf leather strap with ‘Alain Silberstein signature stitching in red’ paired with a black pin buckle
- Prices: £2,590 (RRP as at 2.7.2020)
- Limited Edition: 178 pieces