At Baselworld 2011, the Swiss watchmaker will present its new Excellence line of classic-styled watches. It looks like the new Louis Erard Excellence Regulateur Reserve de Marche (ref. 54230AA01), a model that is nothing but stunning in its reserved, even somewhat cold elegance, will be the flagship model of the whole series.
As the name implies and the dial layout proves, this is a regulator watch (which, basically, means that the hour and minute hands turn around different axes with the hour hand having its own sub-dial at 12 o’clock.)
Although, thanks to its beautiful design, this one looks like a completely new watch, it is in fact powered by the same ETA 7001 RE9 hand-wound caliber that animated the last year’s Louis Erard 1931 Regulateur Reserve de Marche timekeeper that was presented during the Baselworld 2010 event.
The movement is based on the good old ETA Peseux 7001 hand-wound movement with an extra module that was developed by Louis Erard and the Swiss complications specialist Soprod S.A.
For its slimness (only 2.50 millimeters in height) and robustness, the base movement enjoys a very good reputation even among the serious watchmakers (among others, it is used by Omega, Chopard, Blancpain and Chronoswiss; Eberhard & Co. used it for its 8 Jours watch.)
The movement is hidden inside a round stainless steel case. Being 40 mm in diameter, it looks very slender, which is important for a watch that is supposed to be worn with formal attire.
Its milky white dial looks to be sand-blasted and is perfectly matched with blued steel hands and finely printed Roman numerals on the hours sub-dial and Arabic numerals on the minute track.
The only thing that I do not really like here is the way the recessed hours and subsidiary seconds sub-dials remind me of Jaquet Droz’s signature figure-eight dials (like the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde SWROUGE watch, for example.)
Well, I am positive that the resemblance is purely unintentional.
Price is still unknown, but there is a good chance that the Swiss watchmaker will keep it below the €3000 mark*.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
* UPDATE ON PRICE: In the United States, the ref. 54230AA01 will be offered at a recommended minimum price of $4000 USD. This is more than your usual modified ETA-based regulator would cost, but, first, they will probably start offering pretty good discounts closer to the end of the year and, second, in my opinion, the timekeeper looks like it is worth every penny the Swiss brand plans to ask for it, especially if you compare it to hundreds of other dressy regulators that look like they were designed by the same tired guy and made at the same factory.
Photos: Louis Erard
Louis Erard Excellence Regulateur Reserve de Marche (ref. 54230AA01) hand-wound watch specification
Price: $4000 USD
Movement: Manual (hand-wound,) Caliber ETA 7001 RE9, based on ETA Peseux 7001, modified together with Soprod, Swiss Made
Movement decoration: Diagonal Geneva stripes, blued and polished screw-heads, gears with sunburst finish, gold “Louis Erard” inscription
Functions: Regulator hours, minutes, small seconds, power reserve
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Stainless steel
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 40.00 mm
Lug width: 21.00 mm
Case height: 9.00 mm
Dial: White, sand-blasted
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black leather strap with stainless steel folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides
Case back: Decorated