Contemporary By Nature: The Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta
There’s something to be said for a good, versatile watch. Not everyone wants or needs a rugged dive watch with 500 meters of water resistance. In fact, the majority of people don’t. For the average person, you could argue that a more appropriate watch combines sporty and dressy elements for those who want something they can wear every day but isn’t bold and “in-your-face” like a tool watch might be. When Louis Erard first released the Excellence Petite Seconde, it catered to that demographic nicely, offering a quality timepiece at an affordable price. Now, with the Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta, the brand offers that same classic design but with a bit of color for those who want something a little more individual.
I’ve seen a few Louis Erard watches up close and personal over the last year or so. While I can admit I’m not in love with every single model, I really can attest to the build quality of these watches. Combined with the price point, there’s a lot of value on offer here if the designs do tickle your fancy.
A bit about Louis Erard
Louis Erard founded his eponymous brand in 1929 in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Initially, it functioned as a school for watchmaking, but in 1931, he began to produce and sell watches. Fast forward to the modern-day, and Louis Erard is based in Le Noirmont, Switzerland. The brand is renowned for its mechanical watches and its signature regulator dial layouts in particular. Louis Erard primarily uses tried-and-tested movements from more prominent movement manufacturers like Sellita rather than in-house calibers. This is also the case with the Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta. It’s is a major contributing factor in how the brand can offer excellent watches at affordable prices.
The Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta
Where the original Excellence Petite Seconde came in 42mm, Louis Erard has decided to offer a slightly smaller 39mm option with the new Terracotta model. I think this is a smart move. Bezel-less watches can often wear significantly larger than their on-paper sizes might suggest. I chose to spend some time with the 39mm version for the purpose of this article, and I am thrilled with the decision.
At 12.25mm, the watch is the same thickness for both the 39mm and 42mm versions. That might sound like it’ll throw the smaller 39mm off balance, but I found the proportions to be excellent. The watch sat comfortably on my wrist thanks to the gentle downward curve of the lugs. I had no issue with the thickness, but I am used to wearing watches with similar measurements.
Shades of earthy terracotta
I’ve found that Louise Erard watches can be tough to photograph. I don’t think press photographs ever do them enough justice. Thankfully, our man Nacho did an excellent job with the ones for this review, and I think they reveal a little more of the watch’s character. The Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta dial combines classic looks and warm, earthy colors. It’s this refined execution upon which Louis Erard has made its name. Presented in differently finished shades of terracotta and anthracite, the dial has a sector-style layout that makes it a visually engaging experience. The dial is comprised of three different sections.
The main dial has a matte-effect terracotta finish. In the central portion, at 12 o’clock, proudly sits the Louis Erard logo. The raised, inset hour ring provides a contrasting circular-grained finish, also in terracotta tones. The glossy anthracite hour numerals offer some much-needed color contrast. Finally, the seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock offers an excellent visual focal point. The circular texture combines wonderfully with the sector style and dashed minute markers. Combining these three elements creates a dial with just the right amount of contrast and color. Whereas the original silver-dialed Excellence Petite Seconde was a little “plain”, the terracotta on show here adds a lot of character.
Louis Erard has used an elegant handset to keep track of the time. I don’t usually go into too much detail about hands, but I like the shape of the hands on the Excellence Petite Seconde. They’re supposedly inspired by the fir trees that grow in the Jura mountains, where Louis Erard is based. I think we’re getting mighty close to the descriptions I’m more used to hearing from a particular Japanese brand here, but whatever. The distinctively shaped hands are coated in the same anthracite hue as the hour numerals. Regardless of the inspiration, the shape wonderfully complements the dial without being over or under-dressed for the occasion.
Left a little short…
At this price point, the straps that watches come with never blow me away. I guess many people will have a decent collection of straps at home, ready to swap out at a moment’s notice. However, if this is someone’s first watch, their “go-anywhere-do-anything” piece, then that likely isn’t the case. There was nothing wrong with the strap in terms of quality. The dark brown Baranil calf leather strap felt good to the touch. The polished stainless steel pin buckle worked well, and quick-release spring bars were a welcome addition, allowing quick strap changes.
So what was my issue? Well, the strap was ridiculously short. I couldn’t fit it to my wrist, but thankfully Lex Stolk volunteered his hairless wrist for the photographs. He has slightly slimmer wrists than me, but even he had it on the last hole. It was a stretch! If you’re a larger-wristed individual, you’ll probably need a larger strap than the 80/115mm length provided. Please bear that in mind! I had to swap the watch onto a different strap to wear it and get a feel for it on the wrist.
Solid Sellita runs the show
I mentioned two features of Louis Erard watches above — Sellita movements and regulator dial layouts. The Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta features just one of those classic brand tropes, and it’s obvious which one I am referring to now. By process of elimination, I am referring to a Sellita movement. In this case, it’s a Sellita SW261-1 élaboré grade movement. It’s an automatic movement with a small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock and 38 hours of power reserve.
I have no issue with Sellita’s movements. Some people are a little bored of them. While I can understand that, there’s nothing wrong with a reliable movement beating away inside your watch, especially one that is relatively cheap and easy to service. Sure, Sellita may not be an “adventurous” movement choice, but it doesn’t need to be. I see the Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta as a daily beater for a collector with slightly more classic tastes. With that in mind, the movement choice is ideal. Plus, it keeps the retail price to sub-CHF 2000. That’s a win in my book.
Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta: Price and availability
The Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde Terracotta is available in 42mm and 39mm sizes. The model is limited to approximately 100 pieces per year by reference, with a retail price of CHF 1,950. For more information, please visit the official Louis Erard website.
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