Presented in a slightly oversized (though almost impeccably proportionate) stainless steel body, the Louis Erard Excellence Ladies Chronograph (ref. 82 234 SE 01) not only has its razor-thin bezel set with dozens of finely cut diamonds: It is also animated by a rare Swiss-made caliber.
The ultra-compact self-winding movement was designed by ETA to be used exclusively in watches designed with the better half of humanity in mind. In fact, the new timekeeper is one of the most elegant “ladies” chronographs set to be revealed at this year’s Baselworld show.
It takes just a glance to see (with a certain pleasure) that the new watch is designed around the same lines that were introduced by the Swiss watchmaker last year when it first presented its current Excellence collection of luxury timekeepers. Coming equipped with classically shaped hands that seem to be crafted from blued steel and featuring more or less standard dial layout, the watches could look generic, if only they weren’t that beautiful.
This particular model, for example, arrived in a relatively large stainless steel case that measures around 36 millimeters in diameter.
Since the timepiece is powered by a small ETA 2094 self-winding ebauche, which is less than 24 millimeters in diameter (more than four millimeters smaller than the omnipresent ETA 2824-2,) the watch belongs to the “huge by choice” class of gadgets: the only reason they made it so large is because they wanted to provide some extra real estate for all these diamonds that are shining on the bezel.
The caliber is based on an ETA 2004-1 blank movement, which is, in its own turn, a more compact version of the good old ETA 2892-A2 ebauche that watchmakers around the world love so much.
This is not a natural-born chronograph: the tiny engine is simply equipped with a chronograph module that rides atop it increasing the total jewels count to 37 stones while making the mechanism more difficult to service. The chronograph function of the ref. 82 234 SE 01 is operated by means of two pushers placed at 2 and 4 o’clock.
Small movements rarely look good inside oversized cases, yet this particular watch produces a good impression, mainly because the extra dial space was used wisely with a set of 12 long and thin Roman numerals. Visually dominating the dial, the numerals successfully divert your attention from the three recessed sub-dials effectively making the face look less cluttered.
As I have already mentioned, the thin bezel of the Excellence Ladies Chronograph is decorated with seventy TW F-G VS-SI diamonds together weighing around 0.7 carats.
At this moment, I don’t know how much Louis Erard plans to ask for this beautiful piece, but it is worth a look when it finally comes to a boutique near you. The watch is expected to be officially presented in flesh in March during the upcoming Baselworld 2012 show.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Photos: Louis Erard
Louis Erard Excellence Ladies Chronograph (ref. 82 234 SE 01) specification
Movement: Automatic, ETA caliber 2094, modular chronograph, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 37
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Movement decoration: Branded oscillating weight
Functions: Hours, minutes, chronograph, date, small seconds
Power reserve: 40 hours
Case: Stainless steel, polished
Bezel: Set with 70 diamonds
Size: 36.00 mm
Dial: Mother-of-pearl, white
Hour markers: Black
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: White leather strap with stainless steel pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective