Louis Erard continues its odyssey in artistic craftwork. Now, the Excellence Guilloché Main, still in a limited edition and with the same contemporary take on the tradition of artistic craftwork. Each dial is made by hand, piece by piece, with an attention to detail normally reserved for the absolute top of the range.
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.
In this model, a limited edition of 99 pieces, Louis Erard combines tradition and contemporary watchmaking, as is to be expected. The case: modern, sleek in polished steel, 42 millimetres, water-resistant to 50 metres and with a signature fir tree crown. The strap: black calf nubuck leather with pin buckle. The movement: automatic Sellita SW261-1 with hour and minute function, visible from the open caseback. The dial: hand guilloché and signature fir tree hands in blued steel.
Finally, the shock of the price: less than 4,000 Swiss francs. This is, it must be said, completely unheard of, considering the type of finish and the level of exclusivity. The art and style of Louis Erard taking up the challenge of fine watchmaking. More artistic craftworks will follow.