One of the best watches of this year comes courtesy of Louis Erard. Or better, series of watches. The Le Triptyque Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein is the perfect example of how a collaboration between two brands can lead to spectacular results. Fresh of the success of that partnership, Louis Erard today introduces the next collaboration timepiece. Together with atelier oï  the brand has developed the Le Régulateur Louis Erard x atelier oï. This conceptual timepiece takes Louis Erard’s collaboration series to the next level.

The challenge with conceptual timepieces is how to integrate a concept into a practical instrument like a wristwatch? That is why many of the conceptual timepieces we often see are related to time itself. One of the best conceptual timepieces of 2021 is, without a doubt, the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando. The watch is the perfect amalgamation between taking the concept of time and integrating it into a timepiece. The story of the Japanese Mikazuki that represents the crescent moon was integrated beautifully into the Octo Finissimo. For their collaborative effort, Louis Erard asked Swiss architecture and design company atelier oï. The central question: How to materialize space and time? 

The conceptual idea

It is a simple question to ask. But the answer to that question is not always that easy. It’s why there is a bit more to this story. The idea behind the watch is to visualize the changing spirit of a watch. Watches used to be instruments that tell the time. With the connected technology of today, that role has changed. More than ever, watches are admired for their history, technological mastery, and luxury status. It’s this changing role that atelier oï wanted to express with the watch.

Instead of coming up with an entirely new watch, Louis Erard provided their Excellence Régulateur as the canvas for the challenge, which resulted in an exploration of a dial that would tell the story. On top of that, the watch needed to be affordable. A big part of this collaboration series is making accessible what is often reserved for a select audience. So there were plenty of challenges for atelier oï to work with. It does not always mean the challenge is more extensive. Restrictions can very well be excellent guidance in a creative process. For the dial of this watch it leads to extraordinary results.

Louis Erard × atelier oï

Overall it was a challenge that was in good hands with atelier oï. Louis Erard and atelier oï are from the same region in Switzerland. Additionally, Louis Erard’s Manuel Emch did an internship at atelier oï in the 1990s. So there is more than just one connection between the two companies. As a first in the series, atelier oï is not a company with a watchmaking background. The company is active in design and architecture and has worked for many great luxury brands. I like the connection between design and watchmaking because it leads to new views on watch design. But in this case, the inspiration for the design came from historical and very familiar territory.

Le Régulateur Louis Erard x atelier oï

The shapes on the dial are inspired by the traditional sundial. Furthermore, the central motto for the design was: “To radiate from the center outwards.” The result is a watch with a 42mm polished stainless steel case featuring a slate grey dial that features engraved asymmetrical rays. Rays that play with the reflection and contrast of light. As you can see, engraving is executed in its purest form of drawing lines. Lines spring from the two smaller blue baton hands indicating the hours and the seconds. It essentially divides the dial vertically into two parts. The also blue central minute hand hovers over the dial and the smaller hands, creating its own dynamic.

As you can see, the lines in the dial create a significant visual effect. Depending on the light and the angle you look at the dial, the presence changes all the time. It’s a fascinating concept that deserves, or better, needs no interruption. That is why you will not see a logo on the dial. But as you probably have seen, the practicality of reading the time is not lost with this concept. The minute circle is still very much present at the outer edges of the dial. On top of that, every line that indicates five minutes is more pronounced. It’s not only an ingenious concept; the execution also makes it still very easy to read the time.

Familiar specifications

As mentioned, the watch features a 42mm stainless steel case that is 12.25mm thick. It has a lug-to-lug of 49.6mm and a lug width of 22mm. The watch comes with a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides. On top of that, the watch is water-resistant up to 50 meters. If you turn the watch around, you can see the movement through the sapphire caseback.

Louis Erard equipped the watch with the automatic Sellita SW266-1. The brand uses this movement for all its regulator watches. It operates at 28,800 vibrations per hour and offers a 38-hour power reserve. Next to the sapphire display caseback, you will also see the caseback engrave with “atelier oï x Louis Erard Limited Edition 1 of 178,” indicating the special limited edition status of your timepiece.

First thoughts

After collaborating with Alain Silberstein, this new Le Régulateur Louis Erard x atelier oï is entirely different. What I greatly appreciate is that Louis Erard uses their collaboration series to surprise us constantly. At first glance, this new timepiece might seem very conceptual. But look past those first impressions, and you will see there is great logic to the idea and the execution. I have to give atelier oï credit for coming up with a modern interpretation of a very traditional concept. A concept that has withstood the test of times flawlessly.

That link between the past and the present perfectly represents the idea of the changed perception of watches. It would be great to see the watch from up close and play with different light conditions to see the real magic. But if that happens, remains to be seen. Louis Erard will produce 178 pieces of the watch, which will probably go fast. The watch will be available at a retail price of CHF 3,500. Considering the conceptual nature and execution of the watch, you would think that a watch like this would be a lot more expensive. But the affordable price makes this watch and the entire series even more special. I can’t wait to find out what is next!

To find out more, visit the official Louis Erard website.